Wednesday Workout: Hills. Ugh.

Hills are not fun.

When I was on the cross country team in middle school we ran hills on the local “ski” hill. It was a big, long, man-made hill in Lisle, Illinois called Four Lakes.

Yeah, it's not really great for skiing but it's TORTURE for running.

Yeah, it’s not really great for skiing but it’s TORTURE for running. (Image courtesy of panaramio.com)

Basically, our workout went like this: run as many of these as you can in the time that we’re here. Ready? Go!

It was pretty much my least favorite workout.

But hills make you strong. And hills make you fast. And hills gotta be done.

Ok fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I did hills this morning. Happy? 2 miles up to the park, 6 Cat Hill repeats, 1 mile to a cab (I was running late for class).

Rawr! (Image courtesy of icametorun.com)

Rawr! (Image courtesy of icametorun.com)

Cat Hill is about 0.2 miles up not a crazy-steep grade but enough that I, you know, feel it and wanna die. I did 6 with jogging in between.

I’m not the biggest fan of this exercise because it’s suuuuper haaaaaard (I’m whiny today) but very effective in working at maximum aerobic capacity while building straight-up strength in the leggys.

Gotta get strong in the legs if I have any hope of PR-ing in Jersey.

Excited for Jersey!

Excited for Jersey!

Do you run hills? Does your hill have a cool name with a cool cat on it? Is it a ski hill? I mean, an actual ski hill. Not my bunny hill. No offense, Four Lakes.

Off to my Pathology midterm. Everyone say a prayer.

Now go out and run.

Combo

Remember when I told you I would crawl under a rock sometime in the next two months? Yep. It happened yesterday. Nearly 4 hours of intense lecture after which I went home to re-write notes (which took all afternoon) and then nearly fell asleep in my sushi.

Welcome to summer school!

No Hamptons weekends for me. Give my regards to the ocean.

So, today is a Combo post. Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays + Workout Wednesdays.

Readysetgo!

This week’s BTAT is and Ode to Father Time. I have a very vivid memory from five weeks ago in the hospital when Time was all I was thinking about. Remember how my pain treatment failed me in the immediate hours post-surgery? It was awful. Everything hurt, I was nearly in tears and screaming for someone to put me out of my misery.

When the nurse fixed it and the doctor gave me a booster, I asked how long it would take to kick in. He said no more than ten minutes. I focused on the clock on the wall in front of my bed and thought, “Ok, clock. Let’s do this.” I watched the second hand click by, counting down the minutes til the pain would go away.

Before long, the pain was gone and I was sound asleep.

Post-pain treatment fail nightmare. I look…better?

Time goes by whether you want it to or not. That is the beauty about Time.

When I was tied to the treadmill this past year, I would watch Time pass by instead of miles. I couldn’t see the miles like I could when I ran outside, but I could see the Time. And I watched and prayed that those stupid numbers would tick by faster because OHMYGOD 10 miles on a treadmill is LONG!

I want Time to slow down for some things. Like my sweet baby niece who is just the cutest right now. Time feels like it’s slipping away with her. For her, and so many other people in my life, I wish that Time would slow down.

Holy cow, Peanut. You are so cute. But please just stop growing up SO FAST!

But it doesn’t. We age, we grow, we heal, we move past the good and the bad. Time does this for us. Time forces us to move beyond the past and into the future. And that is always Better Than the Alternative.

And now for Workout Wednesday!

Tonight I am coaching the luluemon Run Club in Central Park at 7pm on the 72nd St. Transverse (we leave from the E. 66th St. store at 6:45pm, if you want to meet us there). This will be my first “public” run back from surgery and I’d love for all of my runner friends to come on out and run with me!

If you like to sweat and need a little Cat Hill in your life, come on out and join me! We will for sure take a picture of our beastly efforts. What? You don’t like ugly runner pictures? Oh boy. I question our friendship.

Your workout today, as well as ours tonight, is hills. Hills are a great interval workout that strengthens both the glutes and quads while preparing you for going up and down and up and down like so many races do. Here’s an kick-ass hill workout for you today:

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 10-15 minutes up and down the hill NO STOPPING IN BETWEEN as many times as you can
  • Recover
  • 4-8 sprint up/slow jog down, recover fully in between (number depends on how long your hill is and how in shape you are)
  • 1 mile cool down

It’s a relatively short workout, but effective if you really push it. Remember, not every workout has to be hours and hours long to be effective. Make the most use of the time and each individual set for maximum results.

Hope to see you on Cat Hill in Central Park tonight. Say hi if you see me!

Now go out and run!

The “Hills Make You Fast” Workout

I talk about it a lot, speed work, and I think most people are cool with Mile Repeats, Yasso 800s and Tempo Runs. What most runners shy away from are HILLS. Oh yeah, those dreaded HILLS.

But why? Well, to be honest with you, no workout in the world makes me want to vomit than a good old fashioned hill workout. Pushing your body on a flat surface is only about one thing: speed. Pushing your body on a hill is about speed AND power. It’s brutal but worth it.

So, how do you go about putting together a hill workout? I’ll share my most brutal favorite one with you.

There is this hill in Central Park called Cat Hill. Why is it called Cat Hill? Because there is a very large cat on the hill. You have to see it. Anyway, the hill is about a quarter of a mile (.25 mi) from the Boathouse to the stop light at the top of the hill. Here’s what I do on Hill Day:

  • 1-1.5 mi easy warm up
  • Sprint up the hill, jog slowly down (4-6 times)
  • 1.5-2 miles at race pace

The warm up is an absolute necessity with this type of workout. If you don’t warm up, you won’t be able to reach your max speed on the hills. The idea is to run each hill repeat in the same amount of time as the one before. Don’t forget to find a hill that is at least .15 mi long so that you get more than a minute on each hill. I think I did 5 last time before I was sure I couldn’t do anymore. I was totally trashed. Those last few miles are to stretch your legs out, find a comfortable breathing rhythm and let your muscles relax before you stop dead in your tracks and collapse on your couch.

It may feel like you didn’t run all that far–and you didn’t. However, distance isn’t the goal here, intensity IS. If you are hitting those hills with everything you’ve got, you will see an improvement in your distance running. If you are loafing about and phoning in your hill workouts, you will see no improvement whatsoever.

Got guts? Hit the hills. They will rock your *running* world.

Now go out and run!