Hills are something almost completely foreign to this midwestern girl. I grew up in the flat farmlands of Indiana where even a sledding hill was hard to come by. Hill training was introduced to me in middle school by the man who I’ll give credit to starting my running career, my cross country coach. Once or twice a week the team would gather in the middle of a nature park and run back and forth on a ramp descending the incline much more gradually than we’d eventually have to run back up it. Once at the bottom, rather than turning around and running back up the back and forth ramp, we had to run straight up a steeeeeeeep hill (think steep like greater than a 45 degree angle!). To add to the competitiveness of it – we had to record the number of hills we were able to get in during the duration of practice. I’m sure Coach (known to most as Crazy Running Man, and to some as Budd Glassberg) really enjoyed creating the categories – 1-5 hills = Elephants, 5-7 hills = Billy Goats, 7-10 hills = Mountain Lions. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I was always a big, slow elephant watching in awe/fear as the graceful and strong mountain lions passed me over and over, sometimes going uphill twice for my once.
So you can see feeling like an elephant isn’t really something I enjoyed and that’s why in all these years I haven’t returned to hill running. Until now. Hills are a fantastic way to build leg strength so that you can run faster on a flatter terrain. The one problem is still my location. No longer in the flat midwest, I’m in the flat mid-south Mississippi River Delta. AND today storms were predicted so I had to move it inside. Now, after living in Ireland for almost half a year, I’m no baby about running in the rain but I’m not about to get caught at a higher elevation in a lightning storm – but that’s just me.
That means I had to get creative with the treadmill. 5 laps of hills on the Auction Street bridge were on the agenda (see, still an Elephant!) so I need to get an equivalent of 10 uphills. I decided to do it interval style and here’s how the workout eventually came together:
- 1 lap warm up at 6.5 mph
- 1 minute uphill at 11% grade, 6.0 mph
- 2 minutes flat, 6.0 mph
- Repeat 1 minute uphill, 1 minute flat nine more times.
All said and done, it took about 30 minutes and I got a little more than 3 miles in. I much prefer the Auction Street Bridge because on the treadmill there is no downhill, you’re constantly working, none of that easy flying at a faster speed. And I’ll admit, I do miss the mountain lions lapping me on the uphill….
AND on a side fitness note – a goal I set last fall was reached today – 1 BODYWEIGHT PULLUP!! Thanks to my trainer Lisa at Inside Out!