Monday, January 25, 2010

Hills! Sort Of

Ever since I did some hills repeats during a snowshoe run two weeks ago I’ve been meaning to get back out to hit the hills again. It’s the weakest area of my running right now and has been for the past two years. I just haven’t put any effort into improving it either. Uphill running makes my plantar fascia pain worst so I’ve been avoiding them. Since my PF was sore anyway from Saturday’s run in the soft snow I said “WTF, might as well do hills today.”

Well, it was raining hard here making a run on the trails a soggy proposition. And I can’t run roads either. That would destroy my PF for sure. That left only one option for me, the treadmill. Or as I lovingly refer to it “The Dreadmill.” I absolutely hate running on a treadmill but figured it was better than me sleeping all day. Down to the basement I went to dust of off the cobwebs. Not really but you get the idea. It’s been a while since I’ve fired up the beast. Like two and a half years!

I don’t ever run with my iPod because I find it distracting. When it comes to dreadmill workouts I make an exception. I WANT to be distracted! After a 15 minute warm-up I boosted the incline to 3% for 5 minutes. It didn’t feel much different than running on a level surface but I thought it best to start out conservatively. After a 2 minute break on 0% I went up to a 5% grade for the next 5 minute climb. This also felt easy. So far, so good.

After another 2 minutes of flat running I started my third 5 minute ‘hill’ by jumping to 7% incline. This one felt more like I was running an actual hill. I was definitely putting in more effort and starting to break a sweat. Another 2 minute break and I was back to climbing at a 9% grade. I focused on proper form this time. Chin up, slight forward lean, arms a little lower, shorten my stride, higher knee lift and up on my toes. More like riding a bike than running.

One last 2 minute break and then I did my 5th and final 5 minute climb at 11%. This one had me breathing heavy after 2 minutes and I had to use more arm swing to keep pace. I was working hard and loving it! I don’t think doing hills this way is a substitute for getting out on the trails where you have to contend with uneven terrain, rocks, roots and the ground given way underfoot. I do like the fact that the treadmill doesn’t allow you to slow down when you get tired. It’s keep pace or you get whipped off the damn machine!

It was a hard workout but songs on my playlist like Senses Fail’s “Bite to Break Skin”, Breaking Benjamin’s “Diary of Jane” and Skid Row’s “18 and Life” kept me motoring uphill at a good pace. I was enjoying the music so much my 15 minute cool down turned into a 30 minute one. I got in a 75 minute workout with 25 minutes of hills on a rainy Monday morning. I’ll take it.

PF is very sore now. Time to hit the ice pack.


  1. Hills on the Dreadmill in your basement? Are you are a glutton for Punishment? Pamper your calves and achilles and your PFs thank you. Come to Ward and we'll do some repeats...or you can do some repeats while I roll film.

  2. Oh, I love that big ass hill! Let me know when you want to hit it and I'm there.

  3. Music is a must with hills, or track workouts. Glad you tackled the hills. There is something awesome in doing something that is hard and you keep putting off. Brad Hudson recommends doing short sprints on really steep hills, and then longer strides on less steep hills. These are supposed to work similarly to strength training. I can't believe you ran hills on the mill. That is way harder than running hills outside! Too bad you did not do Derry. It was tough but awesome! People were super friendly! You may want to check out Stu's 30K in March, similar course, just longer!

  4. I find night time and bad weather give me a chance to run hills on the actually fits in quite well.

  5. Steve, Nah, I hate their music. I just like their hair. Reminds me of 'back in the day' when I had hair and was sporting a 6" high afro. Only time in my life I was six feet tall.

    Ana, I can't run roads at all. Not since July 07 when I developed PF and it decided it liked me so much it would never go away.

    Kevin, I ended up enjoying the workout and plan to hit the 'dreadmill' for hills one day a week.


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