Monday, February 13, 2012

February 6-12: Hills. And Hills.

One common subject of race-related complaints, besides running side-by-side with Mack trucks, is the course elevation profile. In particular, people dislike hills. 

You know, hills like this one on Wisconsin Avenue between Davenport Street and Brandywine Street. 

Which is just one of about 40+ hills just as steep within a mile of where I live. I have no scheduled running "hill workouts," but it goes without saying that any run starting from my neighborhood includes a hill workout by default. There are hills in every direction. I had to contend with hills during my Monday morning tempo run. I wrestled with the Tenleytown and Massachusetts Avenue hills during my swim-run session on Friday. And then there was Sunday's cold and gusty long run...up and down hilly Connecticut Avenue.

Hills. They follow me. Here's how they factored into my life last week:

Monday: A 50 minute run with a 20 minute tempo section at 9:16 pace, including some serious hill love, in the morning.

Tuesday: 3200 meter swim practice with DCRP masters in the evening, which was, no joke, one third breaststroke. My left hip/”The Situation” did not appreciate that.

Wednesday: An early morning gym session with 20 minutes on the elliptical as a warm up, and 40 minutes of weights for the meat of the workout. Evening mile repeat party at the track, descending from 8:55 to 8:31 for 4x1600 meters.

Thursday: 75 minutes on the trainer, largely in heart rate zone 2 with some spin ups and harder intervals thrown in.

Friday: My blessed bi-weekly day off from work, and an opportunity for my coach to throw 2-3 hours of fun at me. This week, it was an hour of swimming, which included 5x300 yards pull with paddles (e.g. the shoulder killer), followed by an hour of running at my “new easy pace” of 9:35-9:45/mile, which is just a tad faster than my “easy pace” of high 10s earlier this winter.

After conquering that hill up to Brandywine pictured above, it was time to spend half an hour lifting heavy things in a blissfully empty gym.

Granted, even in the morning or evening, the free weight area is inhabited by just me and maybe a dozen dudes giving me funny looks when I pull out the 40 lb dumbbells. But at 11 am? Nobody.

Saturday: A 3700  meter swim workout with DCRP, during which I swam frustratingly slow (struggling to maintain 1:35/100 meters) and tried to ignore my poor, aching shoulders.

Sunday: In theory, a 10 mile run with first 6 miles at my “new easy pace” and the last 4 miles building to goal half marathon pace. In practice, a 10 mile run dedicated to just surviving the single digit wind chill conditions with 30+ mph wind gusts. The overall pace was 9:34/mile, but the headwind was so bad for the last 2.5 miles that I felt like I was pushing a truck. I made the whole experience more tolerable by pretending to be a Viking. It more or less worked. A quick 20 minute pool running session in the afternoon loosened up my legs nicely.

Which is important because the workout schedule for this week beckons.

Worst part of the week: Slow swimming. Dislike.
Best part of the week: Running fast. On hills.  


  1. "pretending to be a Viking" ...ha, maybe I need to try that sometime!

  2. Hills are hard, but they make you so strong. I'm better at running up them (the ones that aren't too steep or long) than speed-hiking up the big long climbs. That's where I really need to improve.

  3. Tempos on hills - challenging, but they do teach you how to pace.

    Sunday was ridiculous. I added on some mileage by running past the Kennedy center -- I could have sworn I was running in place.

    I do believe I recognize your gym as well - I think I squat there on Sundays post long run.

  4. My neighborhood is super hilly too. It's more of a good thing but I don't always believe that while I'm running them.
    40 lbs dumbells? I want to hear more about that workout please.

  5. Oh HILLS. I need to get on that. I'm just so comfortable with my 6 miles a day of flat terrain, and it's time to take it up a notch. Love your blog by the way. Newest follower!

  6. The only reason that I kind of like hills is because I actually pass people on the uphill, both on the bike and running. However, these other people then kill me on the downhill.

  7. This is the longest I have EVER gone without running, so while I am going crazy I am also living vicariously through your training. :(

  8. It is somewhat nice to be stuck having to run hills all the time. Then in races you either find the course normal or easy.

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