Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Gasping

Hill workouts started last night. I am a strange duck. I LOVE HILLS. I love every thing about them. I love the intensity, the lactic acid build up, the waves of nausea at the end, the lightheadness, the ache deep in your legs as you struggle to maintain proper form on the last summit attempt. A great hill work out leaves one with a sense of exhilaration and a real sense of accomplishment.

Hills are your friends. When you're doing the last 10K in the marathon, all the hills you've done in training will come back and join you. They'll bolster you and serve as your wings. You just have to be willing to pay the price to earn your "Hill Wings". And the price you have to pay is pushing back your lactic acid threshold. It is hard, uncomfortable, uncomprising work. There is no way around it and the only way to get the benefits out of hill training is to committ to it wholly, completely and without reservation. Hill training is all about committment and about how badly you want to improve and get better.

I have found after having done a half dozen marathon clinics with several hundred participants that two things invariably reveal how someone will fare in their first marathon. First, if someone manages to attend most of the clinic and do most of the training runs they will almost certainly finish, barring an unforeseen disaster. And that in itself is the greatest accomplishment of all. What an achievement! And for your first marathon, finishing should be your primary goal. But of course, most of those Type A goal-setters who sign up to run a marathon also have a time goal in mind. And I have observed that how close people come to making their time goal is predicated by how hard they work during hill training and how disciplined they are during the Sunday long, slow distance runs.

As a rule of thumb, the people who nail their time goals the first time out are those who push hard in the hill work outs, and then have the discipline to run within themselves on Sundays. For me, the only way NOT to run hard in every work out and burn myself out is to train with a heart rate monitor. But the smart runners seem to instinctively grasp and understand that each of the training sessions in the clinic should be run differently. Their work out efforts reflect whether they are building strength or stamina or endurance.

That's the beauty of training for the marathon. Part of the paradox, is that to be successful, you can't always go all out. To be successful you have to be as smart and as disciplined as you are committed and hard-working. Sometimes, it's smarter and much better to run slower than faster. That little gem only took my a few years and a half dozen marathons to figure out. And it's still a work in progress.

There is no use my denying that one of the main reasons I love hills, is that they are a part of the marathon training where being a mesomorph comes in handy. Is even an advantage. Big quads are fun to have in any distance under 500 metres! It's one of the few times that being a sprinter is rewarded.

Here are some great articles on Hill Training:,5033,s6-51-54-0-1063,00.html

Last night, four long hills, got my heart rate up to the mid 170's and then on the last hill I let myself taste 182 for about ten seconds. But, knowing that my MAX VO2 test is in two days, I eased up. I'm hoping to see over 200 on the treadmill!


Blogger The Humble Narcissist said...

Feedback for Vince,

I have one suggestion. Convert your units into miles and degrees farenheit and put them in parenthesis. You’ll attract a broader audience. Currently, I do this whenever reading your "Boston or Bust" Blogspot. I just have a hard time thinking in metric.


1:51:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home