Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I had my "first" experience with hill training last night.

I say "first", but really what I mean is my first experience with voluntarily running up a hill.  (Attempting to run up a hill is more truthful.)

Back in "the day" I had to run up something called "AG Hill".  I was in the Army Guard, in Officer Candidate training.  The AG (basically the man over the whole Arkansas Army National Guard) had his office on this massive hill (the tallest spot on the camp, naturally).  It was almost a rite of passage to run up that thing.   I remember thinking at the time, "WHY would anyone ever choose to run up a hill unless they were being chased by a pack of wild dogs, or maybe a chainsaw killer!"  (See, the person chasing me would have to be carrying a chainsaw for me to even consider I could outrun him.)

Last night, in my desire to continue closer to 26.2, I found out why.  The after effect was nothing short of amazing.  I also became intimately acquainted with the phrase, "it's all down hill from here."

It's funny because my husband and I were just talking about that concept the other day when we where hiking.  He prefers to go up the steepest part of the mountain we hike, pretty much as fast as he he can get to the ridge and enjoy the "stroll" on top.  I've always said I'd just prefer the stroll!  I whine and complain all the way up.  "It's so hard.  My leg hurts.  My heart is going to beat out of my chest.  Why'd we have to choose this path?  Is it really worth it???"   (Bless his heart...HOW does he put up with me??  I'm surprised he even allows me to go hiking with him.  He knows what it's going to be like with me, and yet, he still wants me with him.)

The thing is...first of all he LOVES me and KNOWS as soon as we get to the top I'm going to forget what that hill was like and completely enjoy the time on the ridge.  Second of all, he was a runner and knows all too well what it's like to push past the pain.  In the middle of pain, all I think about is pain.  He, on the other hand, thinks about the reward--the PAY OFF.

Last night I think I got it....way more than with the hike.  When I got to the top of the hill, both times (yes, we ran it twice as if once wasn't enough!)..."it was all down hill from there."  It felt like I was flying!  I ran easily.  My heart rate just kept dropping even though I was running faster than I have in a long time.  It dropped well below what it usually is when I run.  I felt like I could go on for hours!!  Nothing hurt at that point.  (Yes, I'm serious...I don't know why, but I felt much better at the top of that hill....unless I've blocked out the real experience from my mind???)

The second time up the hill was harder than the first for me.  Even after that great feeling coming down....I still didn't want to go up again.  My logical thinking, knows-me-better-than-I know-myself husband would tell me there's two main reasons for that...

First, my body was more fatigued the second time.  Physiologically it really was harder to go up that hill the second time.

Second, I am an IN THE MOMENT kind of gal.  I don't seem to think about what will come next.  I think what ever emotion/physical sensation I'm having RIGHT NOW will continue on forever.  "It" will always feel/be exactly the way it is right now.  That's the main reason I'm writing this entry--because I think I'm going to forget what I felt like on the down side of that hill.  The next time I try run with wild abandon up a hill, I want to remember what the pay off was the last time.  I'm hoping writing about it will solidify it in my Swiss-cheese brain.

I want to remember the pain, and remember the fact that the pain was over at the top.  I ran faster and further than I ever have on that down side.  (That's the advantage of being an in-the-moment kind of gal, I didn't dwell on what happened going up, I was completely focused on how great it felt running over 9 minutes at the fastest pace I've run to date and not feeling like I was going to die!)

I was lucky enough to end up running alongside an amazing ultra runner (blogger "Sirius Ultra Runner") who so graciously slowed his rabbit pace down to give me some great tips.  He said he believes hills are where he wins races.  His personal preference is to go slower up the hill, conserve energy and then utilize that energy on the down side to run much faster.  He said the mistake some people make is to walk up the hill and then never go any faster than they have before-wasting the "extra".  He also said the key to training is to go further each time than you did before.

The hill we ran is broken up into two parts (basically). I ran up the first part, and walked pretty much the rest.  I did shuffle at times, but not for long.  My goal, by the marathon in December, is to run up the whole thing!!  (The hill....hopefully the marathon, too, but, to be clear, I was just talking about the hill.)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!


  1. Persevere, O In-The-Moment Girl, and you'll have many more of those exhilirating experiences!!

    Also, remember, your logical thinking, knows-you-better-than-you-know-yourself husband is pretty much always right, so listen to him more. :-)

  2. "WHY would anyone ever choose to run up a hill unless they were being chased by a pack of wild dogs, or maybe a chainsaw killer"? This is the wisest question I have ever heard!!!
    However here "we must" because I live in a hilly city.

  3. Funny Dana. You know I run when I am on the road (one or two days a week) because Hotel's have terrible work out options and their treadmills are almost always rickity old things. So I run outside.

    Last week I ran in Quantico, VA and it was, of course, very hilly. But I noticed on that run that I never think a hill is a big one until I get about half way up. Running down a hill doesn't seem like a hill at all, then going up I somehow do not notice it until I can't breath anymore and wonder why...

    So this run last week was only three miles long but every single step of it was either up something or down something. My HR Monitor almost exploded. Man running in Florida was easy.


Don't hold back, tell it like it is....