Olympic Silver Medalist (2004), NYC Marathon Champion (2009), Boston Marathon Champion (2014)
Monday afternoon I watched Meb Keflezighi run the final 2.5 miles of the Boston Marathon. On a day that was emotional for so many it was like a story book ending for an American to win the marathon for the first time in over 3 decades. Emotions aside, watching the way Meb powered through those final miles with two runners narrowly behind him was inspiring, and made me want to be out there racing again.
This time last year I was studying for my last biochem quiz of the year (thank goodness!) and nervously anticipating my first half marathon. Since I was in the middle of a busy semester and still new to distance running I was incredibly nervous I hadn't trained properly.
I use the Nike+ app to track my distance and paces when I run. The first screen shot I took a year ago today, and the bottom one I took this morning. Clearly I've upped my training frequency and mileage. Even though my average pace hasn't gone down much I've gotten a lot faster on my shorter runs. Despite my sparse training in my first half marathon attempt there was one aspect of the Nashville I was ready for even though I hadn't thought about it much- the hills.
Since I began running outdoors in Miami, when I moved to the Northeast I had no idea how to approach running uphill. For the first several months I used to walk everytime I got to a hill, which didn't help me get better at all. It wasn't until I started training in Central Park that I was forced to learn to run the hills- partly because there are so many of them and partly because I was training with Nike Run Club and they made us do hill workouts. As much as hill workouts suck they have tremendous benefits, especially when you are combining them with strength training.
In honor of my two cousins that will be running this years Nashville Half Marathon--Go Kendall and Kinsley!!-- I thought today would be the perfect day to talk about tips for running hills and incorporating hills into your training. These are all things that people have suggested to me over the years and I've found to helpful, but you have to find what works best for you.
Tips for Running Hills
- Treat hills like speed work- pace yourself as you start the climb and then once you get a little over half way up the hill steadily start to increase your speed
- Use short strides- this helps reduce the effort you're exerting so that you're able to make it to the top of the hill
- Focus on your breath- your heart rate starts to increase quickly when you're running uphill and you tend to start going anaerobic; focusing on your breath will make sure you're getting the oxygen you need
- Focus on your form- a lot of people have a tendency to look down at their feet while they're running uphill which reduces the amount of oxygen you're getting and forces the hamstrings to work harder instead of utilizing the entire core. Maintain your tall posture and eyes forward.
- Mentally break it up- try not to let the size of the hill daunt you; instead look for signs or landmarks throughout the hill and focus on getting to those points and then the next one, sometimes I count backwards from 60 over and over to distract myself.
- Hill Repeats: Pick a hill that is a decent size and set a time for yourself (10, 20, 30... minutes); practice running up the hill as fast as you can and then run back to your starting position at a recovery pace--count how many times you're able to run in the hill in your designated time. Strawberry fields in Central Park has a great hill for this, New Yorkers.
- Practice makes perfect: ideally you should include some hilly terrain in your runs at least 3 times a week; if you're training for a particularly hilly course try to mimic the course terrain at least once a week
- Get creative: if you live in a particularly flat area (like Miami...) find ways to incorporate climbs into your training like running stadium steps or overpasses. If all else fails incorporate a treadmill hill workout into your routine once a week.
- Focus on power and core: Don't forget your strength training- the more power you have in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes the better you'll be able to power yourself up those hills. Incorporate lunges, squats, box jumps, and planks into your strength workouts.
|My favorite sign from Nashville|
Good luck to Kendall and Kinsley!!! Here's hoping your race is more of a run than a swim this year!