This past Saturday, my long run group had planned to do one of my favorite long runs. The run has a little bit of something for everyone: a short time on the bike bath, three miles of trails through Glover-Archibald Park, some street running, down through the zoo, a killer hill at mile nine, and a downhill finish. Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit on Friday and Glover-Archibald turned into a mud pit. No one wanted to do a mud run so one of the guys in the group suggested running up Foxhall, a street nearly parallel to Glover-Archibald, which would be the same distance, minus the mud. Although the elevation change would have been the same regardless, skipping the fun of trail running meant a steady 360 foot climb over three miles which was pretty hellish especially since my strength is definitely lacking these days.
Back at Filter for our usual post-run caffeination session, we talked about the run and agreed that running up Foxhall was pretty painful. This conversation led to us talking about how each of us handle hills on our every day runs. Some, like the person who suggested running up Foxhall, are masochistic and enjoy the challenge of hills. Others see hills as a necessary evil and incorporate hill repeats into their workouts once or twice a month. I am firmly in the camp that has a complete dislike for hills and avoid them as much as possible. While my weekday running routes generally include running up Capitol Hill, I view this as a necessity and otherwise try to keep my running routes flat and painless. Running is often painful enough, why make it even harder?
To make up for any lack of leg strength due to my aversion to running up hills, I do some serious lower body strength training twice a week, usually in tandem with hard runs such as a tempo run or interval session. This routine includes a variety of lunges, squats and dead lifts that leave me pretty sore the following day. Still, it does not make up for the lack of hill running. Therefore, in addition to the measly 50 foot climb up Capitol Hill on a select few weekday runs and whatever hills are involved in the Saturday morning long runs, I am going to incorporate hill repeats into my workouts at least every other week. Using this handy how-to from Running Times I am going to start with some short hill repeats. Hopefully within a month, I will be able to confidently run up rather than avoid hills with the benefit of a smoother, faster stride.