In Dallas anyway.
It never fails. When I declare to my group (no matter what group it is, friends or runners I coach) that we are running hills, I always get the same response. As in, "unnnhhh, do we really have to do this?" My answer, as always, is "Yes, hills make you powerful!"
There are two types of hill workouts I like to incorporate into my training. Recently, I introduced my group to these, on separate days and weeks, of course.
Now, you must understand that we live in a very flat part of the state. The gorgeous Texas Hill Country does not reach up this far North. So you really have to seek out hilly neighborhoods for hill work. They may not be as plentiful or as steep as your hills but they'll do!
First off are rolling hills. All this means is that you incorporate a neighborhood with gently rolling hills into your tempo or long run. My favorite hood for this is less rolling and more "oh mah guah, does it EVER flatten out?" but I love it. Funny, I can usually only convince friends to run this neighborhood with me once. Hmm. I'll even take the same streets over and over to get some good hill time in. Up and down. Keeping my shoulders back, my head up and my arms pumping hard.
I am also particularly fond of Hill Repeats. Ah, repeats. Hill repeats will make a man out of you. Er, or wo-man as the case may be. (no boobs yet though) I start at the bottom and sprint my way up, focusing on form and speed. For beginners, I'll have them run up for one minute then jog back down. Repeat. 6 x 1 min to start. Next workout 8 x 1 min, working their way up to 10 x 1 min.
Me? I usually do 12 x 2 min. Run up for 2 min, jog back down. I try to reach the same point on the hill each time. Believe me, if you honestly go all out on your first time up, it's quite difficult to keep that pace! But no sandbagging on your first run just to make the others doable!
Hills make your stronger. Period. They'll improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as work those leg muscles in a whole new way. They'll give you confidence and, ahem, a better booty. What? Where do you think those hills muscles come from? (still no boobs!)
I've neglected my hill work a bit since MCM and I'm sure I'll regret it this weekend at White Rock. You see, about mile 21 you roll up into a hilly neighborhood. (which is really just mean) Two large hills, back to back, affectionately called the Dolly Partons. Get it? BOOBS! We're klassy with a k here in Dallas. The bright spot about approaching these hills, when you are so exhausted you'd pay good money for a ride on a Lil Rascal Scooter, are the Dolly Partons at the aid station. See? Hills get you boobs! Lots of 'em!
These men dress in blond wigs, dresses and um, well, boobs. They dance, they sing, the encourage - they are a HOOT and a HALF! I love to see the Dollies! They bring smiles to so many racers at a time when smiles are hard to come by.
Imagine my delight to learn, that one of my new "frunners" is married to a Dolly! That's right, Erik is a Dolly! He's sitting out this year to run his sweet wife Michelle in as she completes her very first marathon!
You can be sure that come race day, around mile 21, I'll be pumping my arms, holding my head up high and looking for all those blond heads and big boobs, a signal that the Dolly Partons have arrived!
*and a special thanks to sweet Shabby Princess who met me last night for rolling hills! She's not even training for anything and agreed to fight rush hour traffic to come run some chilly, hilly miles with me! What a great frunner!
What is your favorite hill workout? Do tell!