The Hills (can I be Lauren Conrad?)

Another tale from the “Don’t Die on the Hills of Hood to Coast” saga.

Last night I hit up a new route (thanks for the rec, Deirdre!) for my weekly dose of climbing and trying not to choke on my lungs.

First, I’d like a Spoiled SoCal High Five for getting out there despite these unacceptable conditions :

The sun seriously did not come out AT ALL, all day, and look at that ‘humidity’!  Precipitation ACTUALLY FELL FROM THE SKY.  I got hit by a drop probably once every 10 steps.

(The midwesterner in me has officially fled the scene.  So embarrassed.)

Anyway, the new spot boasted a 1 mile loop with a decent climb, which I planned to do six times.

But I after a strangely stressful day at the office, I wasn’t in the mood for zoned-out lap running.  I wanted to rage run, and the .25 mile steep (by non-hill-runner terms) climb was screaming to have some angry intervals pounded out on it.

So I scrapped my plan, took off, and let the hills have their way with me.

I made sure to run HARD – focusing on picking up my knees and landing on my toes – on both inclines.  I wasn’t watching my pace during, just focusing on getting to that point where my butt & thighs were burning at almost the same intensity as my lungs.

After a *flat* mile cool down, I finished 7 miles with about 2.5 of climbing (467 ft total).

Now, I’m not that well-educated on proper approaches to specific workouts.  Actually I’m not really that well-educated on anything, except maybe beer or the local Thai place’s takeout menu, but scientifically technical running is definitely at the bottom of my knowledge bucket.  So please take anything I post here with a grain of salt; it’s not meant to be the running world’s next big breakout training plan, I promise.  All I’m trying to do is get through Hood to Coast without requiring serious medical attention or needing my teammates to stand at the top of the hills with cupcake bribing me to finish.

Actually, that’s kind of a brilliant idea.  Team Noon Van #1?  Thoughts??

But what I DO know (aside from cupcakes), is for true intervals you should peak, run down as your recovery, and then head right back up.  I think.  Right?  Anyway, those little valleys in my peaks and spare time at the bottom make this less of a “proper” hill interval, but I still felt pretty badass afterwards.

Rules & guidelines be damned  –  If I’ve got jello legs the next day (which I do) I call it a success.

  *  Are you a scientifically, pre-planned, order & execute type of runner?  How are you as smart as you are?  Or do you have someone bossing you around and drawing your routes for you?  I’m looking for max efficiency with minimum book-reading or brains required.

Sarah OUaL


13 thoughts on “The Hills (can I be Lauren Conrad?)

  1. The amount of recovery depends on what you want from the session. Some runs I’ll use a long recovery – better for working on leg speed and efficiency. Sometimes a shorter recovery is better because it keeps your heart rate high for the whole session, and can improve your lactic threshold (I think?). I usually mix it up depending on what my last session was, and how I’m feeling that day.

    I think the session that you just did definitely counts as quality work :)


  2. Interesting. I have been running hills lately…a long, mile-long hill. I run up, run a little loop and run down again. I’ve loved it and am BUZZING at the bottom. But now I wonder if hill repeats of a shorter slope but pushing myself harder would be better. Any thoughts? I like your elevation chart very much.


    • I’ve read there’s benefits to both – same way doing many 400s vs. a few mile repeats are both effective, just in different ways. I’m hoping to find a longer gradual hill to run as well.


      • I wonder if it depends on the kind of hill you’re training for? I imagine it would. I’m training for the SF half in two weeks time (aagh) when we have a couple of longish, steepish hills so I’ve been running a long, steep hill. But maybe that’s not right. They are totally addicting though…I can’t wait for Hill Run Mondays and I know that’s crazy!!!


  3. You might be surprised how applicable common sense is to run training. You can put fancy words on things like “fartlek” and “interval training” but the bottom line is that to race well you need to train on a course that is similar, sometimes faster than race pace, most of the time slower. I’m certain you’ll do just fine at HtC, the battle is more mental (getting out of the damn van for the 3rd rotation) than it is physical.

    But as to your question about how structured we are when we approach our training, that varies by the individual. Some type A personalities thrive on “the plan” and following it to a T where others find some creative expression in pulling stuff out of their butts (e.g. me, since I can’t cook or paint or play guitar.)

    I recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s book:


  4. The only knowledge I have about running are from my training group that was 1.5 months long and from reading articles/blogs/asking my AT friend. I ask my husband questions all the time (he has been running since he was like 13) and he has no clue. I think I know more than he does now haha Some people are all about the logistics and science, and some are just in it for the run!


  5. Oh man I REALLY don’t want to die at Hood to Coast! My legs are nothing as crazy hard as yours, but my speed / hill work and just plain running in general has been mediocre at best lately! Eeek! Only a month away!


  6. Pingback: Hill Prep (the non-running parts) | Once Upon a (L)ime


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