The Hills are alive (with the sound of panting...)

No, not "The Sound of Music" but the sound of panting and gasping for breath!

Today marked the beginning of a new type of run training -- the loved and hated Hill Work! My trainer decided that I should start doing some training on hills to better prepare myself for running hills during races and to help me run faster by building up leg strength. Well, that sounds like a great plan, right? But HILLS!? I have dreaded this moment, and now it is upon me.

So I got up this morning as I always do around 5AM, got dressed and drove over to this nice hill where my son's doctor office is located. I met Meghan there, in the darkness, at the top of the hill to find out how this was going to work. The first thing she told me was "You are doing the running, I will be watching your form and providing encouragement." Okay, so the pain would be mine to bear alone. I get it. :)

This hill is a .32 mile stretch of road that follows an upward "S" curve as it goes from 750ft above sea level to 900 ft. I believe that represents a 6% incline from start to finish. Now I have walked on treadmills at that incline level and higher during my TEAM Weight Loss classes at LifeTime, but I am not sure if the 6% incline on the treadmill is the same as the 6% on this hill. So I was somewhat skeptical that I was going to be able to do this without significant PAIN. LOL

So Meghan tells me how this is going to work since I have never done hill work before:

1) Jog a 10 minute easy run just to get warmed up.
2) Then I did three reps of:
- walk down the hill
- run up the hill
- take a one minute rest, and repeat
3) Then do a 3-minute hard run through the neighborhood, followed by a 5-6 minute walk back as a cooldown.

The first time running up the hill, I ran the whole way up the hill at a 10:45 pace, only breathing heavily towards the last part of the hill. I was pretty darn proud of myself for actually making it up the hill! Of course, my brain was telling me "Good luck doing that a second and third time!" Meghan was pleased with the effort and sent me down the hill for the second rep. She stayed about mid-way so that she could watch me coming up the hill and then as I passed her continue to judge my form.

The second run was a LOT more difficult. I was doing well the first half but then I started feeling tired. But Meghan was urging me to keep going and then to charge the final few feet to the finish. So my pacing was 10:45 but those last few seconds were at 9:36! I was pretty pleased with myself but now, I was feeling tired and not so sure I could do the third run.

The third run was really tough. I was tired from the second run and was feeling it even before I reached the midpoint. Meghan was encouraging me, and I think she knew I was thinking walking the last third of the hill. But I did not want to show weakness so I toughed it out and finished the third run with a pace of 10:54. I was quite winded at that point and took a few minutes to recover.

Then Meghan said I should run hard for 3 minutes to see how my legs felt. She said it would feel good to run them out, and that I would likely feel faster now that I had done the hill work. I was skeptical but I did what she asked. I ran the 3 minutes at a 9:03 pace -- not sure where that energy came from! Then I walked back to cool down.

All in all, I put down 3.61 miles this morning in about 51 minutes. My first concentrated hill workout was in the bag, and I lived to tell the tale! Now I will start adding a hill workout to my schedule once each month, and gauge my improvement either in terms of speed and endurance. Hills: you gotta do the work, but you don't have to love it! LOL

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