“Get Freaking Fast” Plan : Hills

Not that anybody comes here for advice – except maybe what liquor to pair your electrolytes with or where to score a cute running skirt for $7.97 – but after a few inquiries from people (who probably forgot who they were talking to) I guess it’s time to address the whole “Getting ‘Fast’” thing.

Reminder : “Fast” is subjective, and I still really don’t know what I’m talking about.  Take that for what it’s worth.

I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you the secret to becoming a faster runner – YOU HAVE TO RUN FASTER.

Duh obvs.

Now y’all know I’m a fan of not really working hard or committing a lot when it comes to running.  (Ahem, NoTrain Racing)

But running at the same pace at varied distances got really fing boring to me.  Welp,  time for ANOTHER. RUN. JUST. LIKE. EVERY. OTHER. DAY. Yay!”  I was so stuck on the thought that my hobby had to be “fun” I stayed in my comfortable, easy zone and just ticked the miles off.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

That got old like, a long time ago.  But you know what turns out is ACTUALLY fun?

Being good at something.  Seeing improvements.  Accomplishing more than you thought possible.

Kicking ass.

As soon as I started seeing progress from those first couple track sessions, I was hooked.  I started prying information out of every knowledgeable source I could chase down – ‘How do I get faster?’  ‘What else can I do?’  ‘If I ran xx in :xx, what should I run yy in?’

(The mental image you should be picturing is me with a pencil stuck in my hair, frantically jotting notes in a steno pad with 17 excel spreadsheets open and thick-framed glasses on. Total #runnerd moment)

The general concensus on the secret to speed from the running brainiacs I’ve ruthlessly been harassing?

  • Track, hills, tempo

I had the track business down, having thrown my little runner heart at it as fast and as hard as I could at the Track Parties with Coach “Faster Bunny” Margot.  Last week I decided to checkanother item off the “to do” list on my “Get Freaking Fast” Plan :








If you’re looking for an ass-kicking, schizophrenic workout, hill repeats is your ticket. 

This was a longer hill (.7 mi each way) but it was nice because just as soon as I thought I might really have to stop and walk or throw myself into on-coming traffic, I’d hit the top and got to run ALLLLL the way down.  By the time I got to the bottom each time I’d forgotten how bad it sucked and was ready for the next climb.

We never claimed to be very smart, us runners.

Ok that’s unfair. I never claimed to be very smart.  Maybe you are.  But if you are smart, you must at least be kind of crazy.  Takes one or the other (or both) to be a runner I’ve learned.

  *  What are your thoughts?  Do you like to make it hurt, or are you a zen/fun/stress-buster runner?  Necessary evil or unnecessary stress?  When did running get so complicated????

Sarah OUaL


31 thoughts on ““Get Freaking Fast” Plan : Hills

  1. I am in the same boat. I am not a fast runner by any means, but I would like to get somewhat fast. Last night I ran on a track and 10 laps are a mile, so every fifth mile I would sprint. I loved it! I enjoyed feeling dead at the end, it made me feel like it was worth it!


  2. I think how one trains should depend on the target race distance. Marathons do not necessarily require lots of speed work/lactate threshold/VO2Max stuff. One of the things I took away from a seminar/class thingy run by the Y (we have this thing called Fitness Palooza where they have like sessions for different fitness disciplines) was from a running coach/author/PhD-of-something-kinesiology-related was that simply running more mileage will do more for the half and full marathon than speedwork. If you already run like 50+ mpw, then you add tempo, etc. But if you’re down at 30 mpw, then bumping up to 50 (just regular easy miles) will do more than doing a bunch of speedwork. However, if you’re training for something like the 5K or 10K, then speedwork is the way to go. That was his assessment/advice.

    Also concur that running hills will definitely make for a stronger runner.


  3. I’m working on getting faster, eventually I’ll actually do some of those faster things like track workouts, hill and tempo runs. For now, I tell myself I’m going out for an “easy” run and then push myself until I feel like I’m going to die… and keep pushing. It’s great. If I knew before the run that I was going to do that to myself then I probably wouldn’t get out there. Ha, anywayyyyys, those two cartoon pictures made my day. I saved them to my computer and everything. So funny.


  4. A long long long time ago when I was a fast runner in HS and College I was a hill badass. Living in central Ohio and going to school at Muskingum will do that. Now I’m a big hill WIMP. Damn you northern Ohio.


  5. OMG. I’m literally laughing out loud at your pictures. Living in Florida has a little disadvantage when it comes to hill training. Living on the West Coast of Florida is a ginormous disadvantage. The nearest “hill” is an hour..and that’s actually a causeway. womp womp. I avoid hills. I avoid races with “hills..ahem causeways.” and if I do choose a race w/ a causeway I “run for fun.” LOL bc Lord knows I’m not going to PR on a course w/ any kind of incline. I’m such a puss.


  6. 1) That is a fantastic photo sequence! Haha!
    2) I looooooveeee me some good tempo runs and speed work but really try to avoid running hills or doing hill repeats at all costs. I’m going to look for some though because I’ve signed up for the SF Marathon (2nd half) and it’s better to cry during training now than on race day :P


  7. I just found your blog, SR, RR, and a few others a month or two ago.. I haven’t really ever been a runner, except maybe 10 years ago when I was in the Army and they made me do it. But I have been sooo motivated by all your blogs so I signed up for my first half and started running two weeks ago: (3) 3 milers last week and then a 3, a 5, and a 6 this week. Yesterday I attempted 7 (on an empty stomach and without water.. derrr) and at mile 4.5 I was spent! Dehydrated and just weak. Hence me only making it to mile 6. How do you stay hydrated and strong enough to keep going?


  8. Like a previous poster said, mileage is what’s going to help you most for a marathon. But hills make you stronger, and the track stuff makes you faster. By having speed, it makes your marathon pace that much easier. I never ran with you before today … you’re fast right now. Faster than you think, by a lot. Keep doing the speed work but focus on your endurance and you’re gonna shock the world in October. It’s gonna be rad and I can’t wait to caddy!


    • Does this mean I need to run more than I already am? I’m hovering around 50 mpw and honestly it’s driving me insane as is. I got other stuff to do, y’all!

      And yeah. Today she rocked. As I mentioned before, pretty sure I couldn’t have completed that workout pre-boston last spring.


  9. Have you been to Seattle? Talk about some major hills. I see people running them and I think they must for sure be crazy!! I continue to research and strategize ways to run entire races downhill. There must be a way!!


  10. Some smart runner person told me hills are speed work in disguise.
    I’m the same way about hill repeats, running or on a bike. They hurt soooo bad but then it’s over, you get a little reward and then forget how bad it was.
    I’m a little bit of both types of runners though. I go through stages.
    Congrats on getting some speed! :-)


  11. I have the same shorts…great taste girl.
    I love to suffer sometimes bc I feel so bad ass afterwards, if I survive. but sometimes I need the easy mindless miles for my head. it’s so cool to see how those killer speed and Jill work-outs impact your runs, though. being nuts is awesome :)


  12. I like running with a purpose, but don’t always like the burn that comes with it. But, then I love feeling great afterwards. So, a schizo workout like your hills sounds just about right.


  13. I would love to train on flat roads ALL the time, but I know that is out of the question. That being said, hill running is my favorite kind of training. Sometimes when I am driving around I see a hill and think, “I would love to eat that hill for breakfast.” I’m sick. I know.


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