Hill Drills & Weekend Recap

Good morning! As we are in New England, we woke up to a blanket of snow this morning following a couple of weeks of warm spring-like weather. As they say, if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait five minutes, so hopefully that means the snow will melt soon!

The weekend started off with some happy hour drinks after a long week including a nice Friday morning run (I’ve cut back on alcohol and sweets over the last 6 months or so, but am a true believer in moderation and enjoying life as well!).

Photos from Friday morning run:IMG_2952IMG_2932

A fun Friday was followed by a long run on a sunny but cold Saturday. Mark and I started our run together and split ways half way as we ran separate distances. We took the train out to a town west of Boston, Newton, on the Boston Marathon route (roughly mile 16). 

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We ran from there along the marathon course back into the city, and I did an extra loop to total 18 miles. The part of the course we ran included the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill, which was perfect preparation for the marathon. They say that practice makes perfect in developing good hill running form! 

Boston-marathon-elevationmap

My coaches sent me some great hill running tips written by Team Oregon:

One of the few places where most runners can improve technique is on hills. The problem on hills is not really a question of form as much as a psychological approach. As Team Oregon states, most runners view an uphill as a barrier or challenge. They charge the uphill either in an effort to get it over with or as a demonstration of their strength. This having been done, they rest on the following downhill, holding back so as not to get going too fast. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to do in order to run the hills efficiently.

The most important thing to learn about running hills is the notion of even effort. The goal is to expend only slightly more energy running uphill than you would when running on the flat and not to expend much less energy running downhill than running on the flat.

Common hill running mistakes as stated by Team Oregon include:

  • Attacking the uphill: A quick ticket to oxygen debt. Hill races are rarely won by the person who is the fastest at the bottom. You must concentrate on relaxing and metering out your energy over the hill. Many hills are steepest at the bottom and flatten out near the top. A well run hill has you picking it up at the top and into the downhill transition.
  • Over striding uphill: Remember that the muscles of the legs are major pumps for the blood supply of oxygen and fuel while running. A short quick stride helps supply more fuel and oxygen than a long slow & one uphill. This is the same reason that it is more efficient to use low gears and a fast cadence when riding a bicycle uphill rather than high gears and a slow cadence.
  • Looking at your feet: Maintain your posture uphill and downhill by looking into the distance. Hunching over or looking at your feet will tense up your muscles and hinder your breathing and balance, (not to mention exposing yourself to collisions with solid objects).
  • Resting or holding back on the downhill: If you do not accelerate on the downhill, you will lose the opportunity to get something for nothing. If you don’t believe this, try running downhill with a pulse rate monitor and notice how much faster you can run at the same pulse rate than on the flat. A sure sign that you are holding back is the sound of “plopping” from your feet as you run downhill. Work on increasing stride length and using your arm swing for balance.
  • Not thinking ahead: Look ahead for variations in the slope up or down and adapt to them immediately. If you have to wait until you are tying up from lactic acid uphill or hearing the “plopping feet” downhill to change your form, it’s too late and you have already wasted energy.

 

Drills for developing your hill running technique include:

  • Uphill: Take short steps (baby steps) as if riding a bicycle in low gear. Use your arms in a straight back and forward and up motion to help lift your arms and legs. Concentrate on relaxing your upper body and particularly the back of your upper legs. Look where you are going and not down at your feet.
  • Downhill: Don’t hold back. Go for it! Lengthen out your stride to take advantage of the hill. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. Let your arms swing to the sides and across your body to help keep your balance and to rotate your hips to improve stride length. Concentrate on using the muscles in the backs of your legs to push you forward. Remember, you can go a lot faster than you think and still be under control.
  • Transitions: Strive to maintain your cadence and make a smooth but immediate transition in your form and stride length as you go from uphill to downhill or as the slope changes. Anticipate the changes in terrain and change your form and stride length accordingly.

I am going to continue to follow these great hill running tips and drills as I prepare for the Newton hills in Boston, and other hilly races.

Following the run on Saturday, Mark and I went out for his birthday dinner #1 (today is the actual big day!)

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Our Sunday was spent celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Boston style in South Boston (“Southie”) and then catching up on life, including finishing our marathon of Breaking Bad on TV. Such and addicting, well-written, but disturbing show. Looking forward to moving on to something happier :)

Thanks for the pics, @mkcorcor212 & @sheiladunning!IMG_2957FullSizeRender (2)

My coaches and I decided that I should run every other day between now and Boston, cutting out one of the mid-week runs. I have 8 scheduled for today along with a lot of stretching. One more long run next weekend and then it’s taper time!

What was your favorite activity this weekend?

Do you practice hill training regularly? 

What is your current favorite TV show? I need to recs!

 

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62 thoughts on “Hill Drills & Weekend Recap”

  1. Looks like you had a great weekend – a long training run followed by a few drops of the black stuff ! I went for a cycle ride along my usual marathon training route – the banks of the river Rhone. It’s the only flat piece of ground around here. But, that and thanks to reading your blog, it’s inspired me to get out there and do some more running… If all goes well, I may yet enter a race !

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  2. Great advice on the hills, definitely something that can always be improved at least for me. Favorite activity this weekend was the first bike ride of the year, just 10 miles as I had an 18 long run Sunday, but nice to be back on the bike. Don’t really watch TV shows, just not enough time and we dumped all our cable channels a while back, so live sports is about it for now!

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      1. yeah, i actually have completed 4 triathlons – sprint distance a couple years ago before the running took over…i’ll have to write a post about them someday, they were a lot of fun and I’d like to do another one sometime, just not sure when I can fit that in! Yes, almost taper time…one more long run this weekend, then a 2 week taper.

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  3. Thanks for sharing the tips on hills. I am totally guilty of using the downhill as recovery and this was a good reminder of how to approach hills. Looks like a fun St. Patrick’s Day in Southie!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing the hill running tips! There are hills EVERYWHERE around me, so unless I plan on running back and forth on the same 1/2 mile of road, I’ve got to deal with them, and I am so guilty of resting on the down hill. As far as shows go, I’m loving Homeland and Longmire(netflx) right now. I am also a big Walking Dead fan- I never thought I’d watch it, but I got hooked! Happy training this week! I hope the snow melts fast- I am enjoying a day off from school, but I’d like it gone asap!

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    1. Thanks for the TV show recs! I watched a couple of episodes of the walking dead and think it’s super catchy but a little gross! Yes lets hope the snow melts asap! Happy training to you as well :)

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  5. Great photos & tips – thank you.
    I have to practice in the hills as there isn’t anything else here but since someone told me to look ahead going uphill I’ve been doing much better – definitely recommend that.
    Enjoy your training

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  6. I have to run hills just by living in the area I do. Luckily, I don’t fear them as much as I used to (doesn’t make them fun at all!) I’ve actually heard that lengthening your stride on downhills is a recipe for a muscle strain. I think speeding up is good, but too much can waste energy. Great tips though!

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  7. Really interesting tips! I love hills, but there’s still so much room for improvement, especially on the downhill, which I typically hate.
    I ran a half this past weekend without adequate training which was a feat in itself. :)
    For TV shows, I love all the Bravo shows, but if you want something of higher quality, I’d definitely recommend Homeland or the Wire.

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  8. fun weekend — great job on the 18-miler! always feels so good to have those long runs done. hmm i’m not much of a TV person but i do love Scandal, and i enjoy Blue Bloods (mainly b/c my parents love it and got me into it — i love the family theme). best part of my weekend was alllll the down time with the boy. hope you have a great week!

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  9. Ugh I wish I had read this post before my race! I had a doozy of a hill at mile 9, and I felt like I never really recovered from it. I looked down at the ground instead of straight ahead, which was a huge mistake. I’m hoping hills will get easier at some point!

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  10. Great hill recommendations. They’re my favorite. I love the challenge of managing your tempo on the uphill and then just letting yourself be free on the downhill. Especially on a technical trail, it seems a great way to push yourself into a flow state (the zone).
    So much love for Breaking Bad. I think I’d like to start it over again, but not sure I have the time these days…my wife and I have been enjoying the relatively new Netflix series Flaked and Love.
    I too, enjoyed a long run of 16 miles this weekend. It’s been awhile since I pushed up into the teens. Now I want to do it again this weekend. Best of luck at Boston.

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  11. Nice post and photos. Looks like a nice mixture of playing and partying hard.
    Yes, enjoy hills now, and think they are very beneficial. I do attack them, but don’t usually slow on downhill, as just let myself go and free run.
    Did a 9 miles run last week, and 12 yesterday, building up to mid-May marathon. Going well so far.
    Just watched the new X-Files from USA recently. Peaky Blinders and Happy Valley the best series I’ve watched from U.K. recently, with similar themes to Breaking Bad.
    Good luck with your training…

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  12. Delayed reaction, talking television, and later thinking about writing about Edvard Munch’s Scream painting, after watching a Scandinavian art doc last night, your group photo reminds me of Friends, which I really liked back in the day. Hope you’re having as much fun.

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  13. I’m absorbing your hill tips as a newbie runner, all help gratefully accepted!
    I don’t know if it’s available in the US but The Night Manager I’d pretty great. I’m hooked.
    Thanks for stopping by my new blog.

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  14. Love the tips on hill running. I’m a long way off from being healthy enough to start running again, but when I did run I loved breaking technique down to determine how to run more efficiently. This was an awesome article and luckily for me, it supported most of the rules I tried to follow on my hills as well.

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  15. Looks like a lot of fun mixed in with those runs. Happy Birthday to Mark and enjoy yourselves.

    Breaking Bad is a great show, though any show that follows a story arc that runs from protagonist to antagonist will be kind of a downer. Living in ABq is fun as we have all those sites nearby. The dam where they get picked up to start new lives is just around the corner from my house! People always stopping to take pics.

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  16. These are great tips. I have done a very hilly trail race the last 2 years and found I just died on the steep up hills.. and I have been doing the opposite of this!! I am going to start adding hill training like this in my program. Thanks!

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