Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hills and more....

I enjoy running up hills, but am a disaster downhill. When I was living in Siena, one of the joys of being outdoors was running through the Tuscan countryside.  Naturally it was hilly and running up these hills in 40 degree heat (100 degrees farenheit) was mind-numbing!  Running in the evenings was delightful, as the sun would be setting, the sheep would be wandering across the road, and I would meet my friends along the way.  Admittedly they would be on horseback, as they never quite managed the running thing. Still, it was nice to see everyone and sometimes we would go for an aperitivo afterwards.
The issue with hills are, once you get out of the habit of running up them, it is quite hard to get back into it.  This past winter during my little races, there were some steep bits, but no real hills.  And yet these 'steep bits' felt like Kilimanjaro at times.  Huffing and puffing I would get over them, and just as I started enjoying them, the downhill started.  Herein lies the rub:  I manage to pass loads of people on the hills (even though I might be struggling myself).  Then once the downhill starts, my legs refuse to move and all these people (and more) pass me in turn.
The last straw came with the Witch City Triathlon.  On the run I came up behind a very fit looking chap.  He was going fast, but I knew I could go faster.  The thing with guys is that when you pass them, they feel the necessity to chase you down and then you have to run flat out (or at least that is the case for me). I passed him on the hill, held it together, but then he started chasing and yes, he passed me.
So, I have started doing a 40 minute run once a week that is only uphill. I have been doing it as part of my programme, and thus far I can cope with 40 minutes. When I started it was agony, but now it seems almost enjoyable. I know I should do some intervals, but I am curious to see how much faster I can go uphill.
I do this particular run on a treadmill which is set on a 1.5 incline, and run at 5.8 mph. My initial speed was 5.7, but I am trying to go a bit faster. Today was good, as I ran 3 miles uphill and then did half a mile on the flat which also included the warm down (I had to go to my Buddhist meeting and was a bit short on time). What would I not give for a long end of summer run in the hilly countryside of Tuscany! I think I would appreciate those hills a lot more now!

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