I hate hills. I hate walking up them. I hate running up them even more. I don't even like walking or running down them. Both directions are painful. Sure, I love the speed I pick up on the way down but I'm so slow on the way up that the fast downhill doesn't do me much good.
Because of this hatred of hills, I don't do them. I avoid them at all costs during training. Naturally this bites me in the a$$ when I'm faced with a hill during a race but after 8 years of endurance racing, I still haven't sucked it up and tackled hill training.
On Saturday we had a group practice with Team in Training. It wasn't my day to coach but I still came to get some miles in and to get to know the new participants. We met at Highbanks Metro Park which has a nasty hill. It's hard to get much distance in at this park without going onto the trails (we avoid taking the large teams on the trails because it can be hard to keep track of everyone and us coaches hate when we lose someone, especially in the woods). That leaves one nasty hill to climb and often times we have to climb it more than once.
I only intended to make one trip up the hill and back plus a loop around the bottom of the park for a total of 4 miles with my walkers. I made it back and was just hanging around chatting when my buddy Lisa came running by. It was one of her last long runs before she starts tapering for a 1/2 marathon and she had 12 miles for the day. The Team was all finished up but she still had several miles left and didn't want to do it alone. She trucked along beside me (at a much slower pace than her own) for months so the least I could do was run with her. I told her I'd do a loop with her (1 mile, I'm a lame friend). She gave me "that look" and I got suckered into climbing the hill again and adding 3 additional miles to my morning. But hey, what are friends for?!
Now for those of you who don't avoid hills or live in a more hilly region (it's pretty darn flat here in Central Ohio), this probably doesn't seem like much but for me, this is hard work. The first trip up was fine because I was walking. The second trip however was running. I warned Lisa before I started up with her that I had never actually run up the Highbanks hill before and I might not make it all the way. I made it but my heart rate was jacked up!
Later that afternoon I noticed that my lower back was sore. I was annoyed that I was sore and I came to the realization that I need to stop avoiding hills. I need to accept that the reason I hate them so much is because I suck at climbing. I suck at climbing because I avoid hills. Maybe if I ran/walked up hills more often, I wouldn't suck and then I might not hate them so much. Genius.
With that still fresh in my mind, I incorporated some "hills" during my treadmill workout tonight. Short on time and with a growling stomach, I planned on 3 miles. To make it "interesting," I slowly kept increasing the incline and then picked up the pace. I ran until my heart rate was jacked up (technical term) and then I started to decrease the incline but kept the pace the same. When I got back to a fat surface, I decreased the pace a little to let my heart calm down. I repeated 3 times. I didn't feel any worse for the wear afterwards so that's good. It really wasn't so bad....but then again, I had control over the steepness and the length of the "hill." You can't exactly do that outside. Oh well, this is just one step towards my journey to incline acceptance.