We can't stop here man! It's Bat Country!
No, I'm not talking about lysergic acid diethylamide. I'm referring to the other LSD. The long, slow, distance run. It won't make you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel, but it can be a challenge if you are not prepared.
As your attorney I advise you to strap on a fuel belt, grab a pack or two of GU, and take it slow.
For god's sake man! I just want to run. Taking it slow is for sissies.
There seem to be two camps regarding the distance run in marathon training. In my limited training, I think that most plans call for your distance runs to be much slower than your actual race pace. Sometimes, even 1-2 minutes slower per mile. The other camp calls for you to just get out there and run. Training your body to run slower is counterproductive. I haven't really decided which side I prefer, but I also don't shy away from a challenge. This week I decided to "take it slow" but include a lot of hills on the route.
This morning's training called for 10 miles. I mapped out a 10.7 mile route using the mapping tool at Dailymile. I accepted a challenge (Honest Abe) which required 16 miles to be logged between Saturday and Monday. I was determined to hit this number with today's long run.
The beginning part of the course took me up and down some gentle hills as I made my way to the end of my street. This is about 3 miles, and as I turned the corner, my watch read 29:00. A little too fast I thought. I slowed down, as miles 3-6 were predominantly uphill. Mile 6 was sort of mixed, and most of Mile 7 was uphill as well. Around mile 8, I realized that I was actually running much faster than I thought I would (around a 10 minute mile). I decided that for the last 3 miles, I would alternate between running a bit harder, and slowing down to a nice slow jog. I ended up finishing with an average pace of 10:02 over the 10.68 mile distance.
The vertical ups and downs have an interesting effect on me. My mind chatter oscillates between things like "Well this isn't so bad, take it nice and easy." to "You fool! What made you think you could run TWO consecutive uphill miles?". My knees lodged several formal complaints on the longer uphill stretches.
However, after I had been out for 5 or 6 miles, a strange thing started to happen on these rolling hills. I began to get (closer to) comfortable. I won't say I was completely at ease with the hillier course. I used to despise hills. This is why I've made sure that my last few long runs have included ample hill time. I'm not about to let some stupid elevation change get the better of me.
So, in my limited hill running, I've come to several conclusions/tips that work for me. I thought I'd share. Your mileage may vary.
1. When running uphill, take smaller steps. I try not to reduce my level of effort, but just to cut down my stride length.
2. Lean forward. I sort of visualize myself falling up the hill. I try to keep my hips leaning forward while ascending.
3. When nearing the top of the hill, run through it. Don't let up until you have crested and are heading down the opposite side.
4. Use the downhill as a recovery period. This has been especially helpful on courses with rolling hills.
5. Have fun! Hills don't have to be the enemy. If you can get over the mental barrier and let yourself just have a good time with the challenge, they are a bit more palatable.
Up until this point I've only included hills on my LSD runs. I'll probably have to switch it up at some point and include hill repeats and some other type of hill training. If you've got any hill running tips, please feel free to share them!
Until next time: run, run, run.