How To Prepare For A Hilly Race

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Iraq10

View of some of the palaces on one of my long runs!

Six years ago, I was training for my first Boston Marathon. I was incorporating tempos, intervals and long runs into my 40-50 mile weeks (I peaked at 55 miles). The only missing component were the hills. At the time, I was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq – and while I was fortunate enough to be on the largest American base in the country (which afforded me miles and miles of road to run on!), it was flat as a pancake.

There was one hill (man-made) called “Signal Hill” which US forces used for all the long-range signal equipment. Signal Hill had a paved road that was roughly .3 miles uphill (steep uphill!). And at two points going up the hill, there were paved roads around the hill.

This hill became my best friend. Rather than do hill repeats once a week, I made it a point to run up that hill at least once each run – and most runs 2-3x. It didn’t matter if it was an easy run, recovery run or long run – I was running up and down that hill.

Fast forward to the 2009 Boston Marathon. My husband was running beside me around mile 19-20. I had never seen Heartbreak Hill in person nor did I know the exact point it comes in the race. We had just finished a bit of climbing and I saw a sign that indicated we had crested Heartbreak. I looked at my husband and asked in disbelief – and with the biggest grin EVER – “That was Heartbreak Hill?”.

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    Birthday #33 + Finding My Rhythm

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    Last week was a solid week of training. I feel like I have found my rhythm – I’m working hard during the workouts, running easy on the easy runs and feel recovered and energized through it all.

    I ran a total of 73 miles, did core work 4x, strength work 3x, cross trained 2x (30 min each on trainer) – and did most of it while single parenting for the week. My husband has been traveling a lot for work lately and I was worried about how I would fit in all of these miles either with the stroller or on the treadmill.

    I’ve learned that there will be always be an excuse if you let yourself have one. If you really want something, you will always find a way.

    I also know that there are plenty of people busier than me – either at home with their kids, working full time or managing full time work and being a parent. Anytime I start to make an excuse, I think of these people and how they make their training work…and suddenly my busy week seems a bit easier.

    73 miles, 7 runs, 3 workouts. Highlights are below:

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      Scotland 10k Race Recap

      Race outfit

      I got up early Saturday AM (5am) and did my usual pre-race routine: Drank my coffee, nursed the little guy who had just woken up (and decided not to go back to sleep), ate a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, drank some Nuun, packed my bag and was out of the house by 6:30am.  

      I picked up my friend, Leticia (and her friend), and we made our way to the UWS.  After leaving the car in a garage by my sister’s building, I ran to the park and continued doing short out and backs from the start corrals as part of my 2-mile warmup.

      I got into the start corrals by 7:45 (the race started at 8am) and tried to stay loose and warm. Despite beautiful weather this week, it was a chilly morning in NYC – with the windchill, it felt like it was in the upper 20s.  My race outfit changed about 10x during the previous 24 hours.  I went with Nike shorts, PRO Compression Socks, Saucony Guide 6s, Lululemon tank, Saucony long-sleeved shirt, and Saucony gloves.  {this is post-race but the only clothes picture I have!}

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        Long Run Mental Toughness

        elevation

        Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an awesome and fun giveaway!! =) =)

        Since I haven’t blogged since this post, I figured I’d share my workouts from last week with you.

        Monday: 30 min bike (9.3 mi) + 5.5 mi speed workout.

        • 1/2 mile warm-up
        • 2 miles: 12:28
        • 2 x 1 mile: 6:07, 5:59 (1st sub-6 mile post-baby!)
        • 1/2 mile cool-down

        Tuesday: 900 yd swim + 60 min bike (17.85 mi)

        Wednesday: 900 yd swim + 5 mi tempo run. Swim went great – swam back-to-back days and arms felt totally fine.  Run: warmed up for the first mile (7:30 – started at 8:15 pace and was down to 6:30 for the last minute), stopped the treadmill, stretched one last time, caught my breath and began the workout.  My goal was 6:30 4 miles (No starting slow and speeding up). My legs were exhausted from back-to-back cycling and swim days but didn’t quit despite wanting to about 4010839302 times.

        Thursday: 3 mile recovery run (7:50 pace).  Tested out the new Saucony Virrata shoes – initial impression is that I really like them…but I want to wear them a few more times before I do a review on them.

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          Hills Are My Friend

          Photo Courtesy of Michelle: elleroos.wordpress.com

          Photo Courtesy of Michelle

          If you are like me, then you know that hills suck when you are doing them.  But they pay dividends on race day.

          My target race this spring is the NJ Marathon. Even though it’s a pancake flat course, I am incorporating some hill-specific workouts as well as general hill training into my training plan. Knowing that I’ve done hill training is a huge mental boost for me when I’m racing. I feel stronger knowing I’ve done those hill repeats.

          There are a few ways that I incorporate some hill work into my training:

          – Choose the route with hills.  If you have the choice between a totally flat course and one with some rolling hills (during training runs), go for the hills.  Your splits won’t be as fast, but it will pay off in the end.  I was confronted with this choice the last two Saturdays on my 12 and 14 mile runs.  If I run south from where I live, it’s almost entirely flat.  I decided to run north which has three back-to-back hills that would each rival cat hill in central park.

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