One of the more interesting parts of training for my first half marathon has been the addition of weekly hill training sessions. Where we live in Houston everything is flat, flat, flat. There are no hills to be found anywhere around my neighborhood. There are a few small hills in the park where I do long runs but it is mostly one long flat trail.
But the most significant message conveyed about the Chosen Marathon for Adoption that I'm going to run in October I've gotten from my friends is how hilly the course is. When I look at the elevation changes of the course I am incredibly intimidated. It looks like miles and miles of an uphill climb.
So when my training program says 35 minutes of hills or 40 minutes flat, I choose the hills. I learned during my 5k training program that running hills develops completely different muscles that help even on flat courses. A few hill intervals...especially some sprinting and skipping up short hills...helps build push-off power in the calves.
I'm an engineer after all, so the geek in me loves the technical aspects of how our anatomy is affected by running and training. I read all the science of running articles I find.
Anyway, in order to do our hill training we have to find hills. There's one big artificial hill along nearby, from the bottom to the top of an artificial levee at the Addicks reservoir. The problem is our running group has more than 800 runners so if even a small fraction of those meet to train on that hill at the same time it's too crowded.
So my group runs on top of a parking garage of an upscale shopping center a mile from my house. It's very convenient! We run laps around the top deck and run hill intervals up and down the last ramp, which is always empty. It seems funny but it works.
Last night my husband was away and I had no sitter so I took the kids to the gym to run my hill workout on the treadmill. The downside of that was not having a coach to guide me and not being able to run downhill, which is also important training.
So I set the treadmill program for intervals...two minutes flat followed by two minutes at a 3% grade. The objective is to remain upright and at the same running pace. It's super hard.
I glanced over and noticed the guy next to me was running hill intervals too! I don't know why, but that was motivating. It was almost like having a running partner...if he could do it, I could do it. I made up stories in my head about what race he might be training for.
Hill training is fun because it's different. It presents a new and different challenge than just running forward for a long time. I woke up incredibly sore from lots of new muscles last night's workout discovered, and that's a good thing.