My three weeks of hill workouts started today. It wasn’t a bad day for running; humid, but overcast and not too hot. There was a little drizzle, but the heavy rain in the forecast held off till after I was finished.
I do my hill workouts on roads near Tufts University in Somerville. When I leave the house, I’ve got about a mile on the flats to warm up before I hit the first hill, a third-of-a-mile climb up Broadway from Alewife Brook to Teele Square. That’s just a warm-up hill. The real work starts when I hit Packard Ave. The hill there is a little shorter but significantly steeper, climbing 90 feet in a quarter-mile.
I do hill workouts to build leg strength, but they’re intense enough so I’m also continuing to build my cardiovascular fitness. It only takes me a quarter-mile of hill running to get my heart rate just as high as it gets after one of my 800 meter intervals on the track.
It’s only the first hill week, so I wasn’t sure how many repeats I should do. I went into today intending to run Packard Avenue a minimum of four times in addition to the climb up Broadway. I managed to sneak in an extra one before deciding that was enough for the first day.
I ran up Packard hard enough to leave me breathless at the top, hard enough that it seemed like a good idea to walk for the first 30 seconds or so of the trip downhill so I could catch my breath before jogging to the bottom. It was an intense pace, but I managed to run each one at about the same speed, a speed that happened to be just about my marathon goal pace. If only I could run a marathon at that level of effort….
The nice thing about hill running is that there’s a lot less pounding on most of my body than there is in other high intensity workouts. If I did lung-busters like that on the track, or heaven forbid, going downhill, my back would be killing me. Hills do put extra strain on my calves, but they seem to have held up well today.
Packard Ave is closer than the track, and five quarter-mile climbs isn’t as far as seven 800 meter intervals, so my mileage for the day was less than I’ve been doing on Tuesdays. It’s not that much less, so it’s not important to make up the difference, but if I feel perky enough on Thursday, I might do a few extra miles. Keeping my numbers up helps me keep my confidence up.
(5.8 mi. run; 147#)
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