Run for the Hills!

We moved, again, in December. I absolutely LOVE our new place and I love the running routes around here.  There are tons of great trails and hills, so I’ve been getting into shape very quickly.  My New Year’s Resolution for 2014 is to run 1000 miles.  That’s less than 3 miles a day.  This *should* be doable.

While I’ve always been a bit of a nut with running, especially tackling the toughest hills, I’ve really become obsessed with going longer, steeper, higher.  I use the MyTracks app on my phone while I run and it gives me my mile splits, total time, elevation (both total and per mile split) and percent grade.  I used to faithfully use MapMyRun, however it’s GPS isn’t working in our new area.  I get excited at the end of every run to go over my stats and see just how high (and fast) I’ve gone.  The graphs illustrating my climbs make me giddy.

Here are some screen shots from two of my favorite courses.

wpid-Screenshot_2014-01-09-07-33-31.png wpid-Screenshot_2014-01-19-21-48-52.png
(Ignore the “moving time”, I had a glitch today and didn’t run that fast! But that 764 ft of elevation sure was fun!!)

Hill Running Tips:
Hills are a fantastic way of building strength, speed, and endurance, but I understand that not everyone is as enthusiastic about them as I am.  Don’t be daunted by the steep hills; embrace them!
1. First and foremost, address the hill.  This is probably the best advice I got from my high school running camp.  One of the counselors told us that just as a baseball player must address the ball in order to hit it out of the park, so must a runner to overcome the hill.  As you approach the hill envision yourself floating over the top.  Then, look at it dead on, take a deep breath, and go for it.  I like to name my hills (I’ve named the trail hill Sampson, another Whitney, and one Hank) and I greet it.  I know it sounds silly, but grunting “Hello hill!” as I start seems to break through the mental barrier that some hills have.
2. Practice good form. Keep your shoulders & neck loose, swing your arms evenly, and shorten your stride.
3. Don’t worry about maintaining speed as much as maintaining effort.  And, if the effort needs to take a break, WALK for 20 seconds then start back up again.  Do not stop moving.
4. Mind tricks work great when the legs don’t want to.  Pick a spot up ahead and focus on it.  “If I can make it to that mail box, I’ll be good…I can reassess if I really need to stop then.”  If breathing is the problem, try doing ten to twenty lunges instead of just walking.  Trust me, running won’t seem so difficult then!  You can always just lie to yourself too.  Today I told myself “Oh, yeah. I remember this hill. It looks pretty steep but isn’t really that long.”  A mile and a half later I was at the top 🙂
5. Mix it up and don’t run the steep hills every day.  If you have no choice but to run a hill, try walking or changing speeds every couple of days and keep them in (fairly) small doses.  I’ve suffered from Achilles tendinitis for 12 years because of over doing it on the hills.  If you experience soreness, take a couple of days off from the hills.  Always trust what your body tells you.

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