We’ve been over fartleks. We’ve discussed intervals. We’ve cruised through tempos. And now we’ve come to the bottom of the hill. We’ll get to the top and I’ll have nothing left to say about speed for at least a week. I’ll have taught you nearly everything I know and you’ll all be speeding past me next time I see you in the park. Isn’t that right, Kathleen?
Those who run in Prospect Park know about the hill. Or should I say The Hill? I believe Micah and I named it Devastation Pass last summer when we were training for the Ragnar Relay and our half marathon. We enter the park at Grand Army Plaza, veer to the right, run around the park counterclockwise, and hit Devastation Pass just before we exit and run home. It’s more the luck (or unluck) of the location of our apartment that puts the hill so close to the end, when we are less fresh than we were 30 minutes before. But it’s a blessing in disguise because by that point, we can say, “We’re nearly to the homestretch. Let’s get there quicker.” So we push up the hill with the knowledge that we’re almost home — only 1 1/2 miles to go! — and the faster we get up that thing, the less time we’ll have to spend pushing ourselves up it.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that powering up the hill was one of our more effective training tools. Because, you see, running up hills makes you stronger. No matter how you slice it, tackling hills will make you a stronger, faster runner. Take them 10 seconds at a time at an all out effort and you’ll increase your strength and build your “fast-twitch” muscle fibers. Take them long (miles long) and slow(er) and you’ll have the nicest quads on the block. If you have only one hill to choose from, run up it, jog (or walk, or walk backward) down, and run up again. If you live in a hilly place, try to hit as many as you can while you are out on your run. If you live in Nebraska, or any place that hills are as common as hen’s teeth, I’ve heard that parking garage ramps will do the trick nicely.
To the hills, everyone!