Heading for the Hills

I’ve been loving the weather the last couple of weeks and I’m taking full advantage of it by running longer hill workouts than I’ve been doing this winter. I’ve spent the last couple of Sundays running repeats up and down Burleigh Hill in St. Catharines. It’s been nice to get those workouts back into the weekly routine.

I say “nice” like I’ve really missed killing myself with at least five or six climbs of the not-so-gradual incline that stretches more than 800 meters. But my hill workouts were a big factor in my success in 2012 and are definitely an important part of my training formula.

I’ve read in several sources running hills improves strength as well as confidence. I know those hills I’ll face on the course will seem to shrink if I spent time running hills before race day. A flat course seems so much faster, too.

UPDATE: I will be aiming at a new personal best at the Jordan 5k April 6. It’s a fast and flat course so I’m hoping all those hills will come in handy.

Not only am I working on how I climb hills, but also how I descend: that could be the X-factor for moving up a place or two at the finish. Read what Pete Magill had to say about hill workouts in Running Times Magazine.

Hill training for me starts with the weekly Burleigh repeats, where I try to keep a steady pace during the climb (with my heart rate reaching about 90 percent at most) with a float back down to the bottom (heart rate back around 65 per cent). Most of my outdoor running routes include hills of some sort, as well. I’ve been doing my speed workouts on an indoor track over the winter.

I’m hoping all this hill training will not only help me nail some ambitious paces this year and set new personal bests, but also prepare me for some trail runs I’m targeting this year. There is the Head for the Hills 10k coming up April 20. I’ve got the Spartan Beast race in July, a half-marathon obstacle race that goes up and down a ski hill.

I’m excited about trying trail racing this year and understand it’s going to be a bit different from the flat road races I’ve been used to. I’m looking forward to the new challenge. Of course, I’m also adding more trails to my weekly workouts as well. But that’s going to be another blog post.

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