Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Captivated by the Hills





What is one thing about running that captivates YOU?

For me? It would have to be hills!!

Specifically, the "little block" of hills across the street from my house. We've all heard the phrase, "hills are speed work in disguise." Well, I tend to believe it.

My house is situated on a "normal-sized" city block (I think), and my street has a nice-sized incline with my driveway almost at the halfway point. That means almost every run either starts (or stops) on a hill for me.

But the little block across the street is a sweet (and sometimes, salty) little bonus. This little block itself is smaller than usual, and requires three laps around it to arrive at a mile in distance (my "residential" block only requires two). But, in doing those three laps, one climbs six fairly short (but steep) hills in the process.

Take notice of the pics below...to give you a visual.

This first set of pics were taken at the base of my driveway (kitty-corner from the little block's NW corner)...the top pic is looking east, and the bottom pic is facing south.



facing south
This next set of pics are taken at the top of my street's hill...the first one is facing back north (towards my driveway) and the other is at the SW corner of the little block, heading east.



heading east
As we continue on our journey around the block, the next corner (SE) shows both views...looking back west (where we just came from) and (around the corner), headed north.


going north

Finally, as we reach the final corner (NE), we can see the view from where we just came (facing south), and also the final stretch, headed back towards my driveway (facing west).



due west
And, a shot from the halfway point of the final stretch....also facing west, with my driveway at the bottom of the hill (See the car on the right, in the above pic? This pic was taken while standing in front of that car).

final stretch, ending at my driveway
Let me just say that these pics do not do the hills justice. I've never done a GPS search for the actual elevation gain, but it's a steep grade for such a short distance.

Basically, two of the four sides of this little block (the west and east sides) have gradual inclines (or declines, depending on which direction you're going), and the other two sides (north and south) have the short (and steep) hills.

So, what does this have to do with running? This little block across the street gives me an excellent course for speed training and hill work.

Often times, I'll do a series of laps and vary the speed. I also alternate the direction I run those laps...maybe do three laps in one direction (for a mile in distance), then switch and do three laps in reverse. Sometimes I sprint up the steep hills and use the "gradual" hills for recovery, making it sort of like a Fartlek drill. Whenever I'm doing a running streak and need a quick "daily streak mile," I sometimes utilize this little block right across the street. It's especially convenient in inclement weather because I never have to go far from my house. Of course, the neighbors probably wonder what I'm doing, but none of them have ever asked (yet).

Interesting as well, the "bigger" block (where my house sits) not only has the gradual hill on the east side (as pictured above in the first set of pics), but there's also gradual hill on the back (west) side as well. Two laps around this block gives me a mile in distance. Often times, I'll alternate laps around both of these blocks (little, big,little,big,little) for two solid miles of hill training.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of track running (#boring), and we all know I detest the treadmill (#evenmoreboring). I don't mind running hills, though. Typically, I run these hills once every 2-3 weeks, sometimes not even that often. I try to keep it flexible and fun. And, by running around these blocks in different directions, it allows for varied terrain (none of these streets are level) which helps in eliminating over-use problems that come from running the same route/terrain/slope all the time.

How about you? Do you incorporate speed work into your regimen? Do you routinely train on hills? Think I'm crazy?

I'm linking this with Deb (from Deb Runs) for the Wednesday Word...today's word is captivate, and hills do it for me.

Also, I'm linking this with another great link-up to checkout: the Running Coaches Corner....hosted by Running on Happy , Suzlyfe , Crazy Running Girl and Coach Debbie Runs.



35 comments:

  1. I'm boxed in by hills in my neighborhood. I live at the top of a really steep hill, so I usually walk to the bottom, but then I have to run up a hill to get out. I always felt trapped by hills, not captivated. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can relate. As I said, every run starts or stops on an incline....often times that final incline is the toughest, especially if it's a hot summer day!

      Delete
  2. So not a fan of hills. Fortunately, we have very few of them around here. When I go to my parents' place in northern Wisconsin, it's a different story! I do tackle those hills though and am rewarded when I get to the top without stopping. Interestingly, I've looked at the elevation on my GPS and it's nothing compared to what I ran in California!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember that area near Big Sur...we were driving on all those hilly, winding roads...the kids were almost car sick!

      Delete
  3. Well, yes, I do think you're crazy. :)

    I actually do like the speedwork at the track (we usually do it in a group, though). The surface is so much kinder to my IT Band.

    My neighborhood has some very small inclines/declines and then some relatively steep hills. It's where I run my hill repeats (and sprints).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've done some speedwork at the track (the college track is only a few blocks from my house...and is free to the general public), but it's SO repetitive LOL. The gal who leads the speed sessions usually has us running the drills counter-clockwise (the "usual" track-friendly direction), then all of our recovery runs are in reverse (so both sets of knees, ankles, etc. get used somewhat equally).

      Delete
  4. I'm also about halfway up a hill, though the grade is a little milder, about 4%, but quite long. I do have a relatively flat area, that runs perpendicular, that works well for speed work. I have measured out both quarter and half miles, so you can actually go out and back if you want a mile interval. Hmm, need to do that.

    Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to find ways to do tried and true running workouts in non-traditional ways....that's the art geek in me. I'm always "coloring outside the lines" LOL

      Delete
  5. I don't have any hills on my route unless I really go out of my way to run them (which of course I don't..lol)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha HA HA....hills make you stronger! ;-) There's no better feeling than when you rest the crest of a hill...you can actually feel all of that gravity release ;-)

      Delete
  6. Photos never do hills proper justice. If it looks like it's barely inclining, it's probably closer to Mt Everest when you're actually running it! Never thought of hills as speedwork in disguise, but now that I'm starting to get into hill training, I'll have to keep it in mind...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also have a golf course right nearby...with a sledding hill. I often head over there and do hill repeats on that because the grass feels much softer than the concrete on the roads. I'll take hill-training any day over speedwork!

      Delete
  7. Well yes I do think you are a little crazy but that's what I really love about you!! LOL We are moving next month to a street with a huge hill & I see a lot of hill work in my future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...and we all know being called "crazy" is quite a compliment to a runner ;-) So, thanks!! ;-)

      Delete
  8. Well, from reading my hill workout posts of late, you know where I stand with hills!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved your hill workout posts! It was almost like I was reading my own thoughts ;-)

      Delete
  9. Uugh hills...the love /hate relationship is REAL!!

    I love the challenge but hate the pain my knee feels running hills.

    I live surrounded by hills....oh joy!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, my knees don't object (yet). Have you ever tried running grassy hills? Less impact...(?) (You're a pretty fit chick...you don't really need hills anyways!)

      Delete
  10. Believe it or not DC is a hilly little city! I can't escape them even on a short route. I do incorporate speed work and hill training into my workouts though so it's a good thing I've got easy access to them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great attitude! When were were in San Fran over New Year's, there were hills in EVERY direction! I actually thought it was pretty cool ;-)

      Delete
  11. I have the flatest neighborhood on the planet- jealous!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many times I curse this hill right outside my front door....it's really rough to start a run on a hill...but it kinda sucks to end on the hill also LOL Once in awhile, I start out downhill and do a giant loop so I end up coming back on the downhill (but it's BORING) ;-)

      Delete
  12. I am totally the opposite. I run hills all day every day (it's my usual route terrain) so I would much rather kill it on the track! Unfortunately, coach's got me on hills for the next several weeks. Whomp whomp. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think hill running gives you an advantage, though. The flat track probably feels easy ;-)

      Delete
  13. I try to incorporate as much hill training as possible, even when I'm training for a race on a flat course. The more hills I run, the faster that I'll get.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree.....I think hills make your body much stronger than a flat surface.

      Delete
  14. It is so hard to capture hills for some reason in a pic! I have tried to do my route and it just doesn't seem to do it justice like you said. Our loops like kind of similar. I have a very hilly area if I go one way and a flatter terrain if I run away from my house.
    I like seeing where you run! In the heat, I just shuffle up the hills LOL I will take them a little stronger when winter gets here :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have tried different angles in getting "real" pics of hills, and none of the pics really show the "true" incline for what it is LOL

      Delete
  15. Yes totally speed work in disguise and so helpful in hilly races. Since I dont have a hill right next to my house I rarely do them anymore which I need to make more of an effort!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I no longer have any fear of hills. I don't especially love them, but they don't intimidate me anymore. I think they're a great "equalizer" in races because everyone has to climb them...it's best to be prepared ;-)

      Delete
  16. My hill training varies depending on what type of race I'm training for. Right after my Firecracker 5K, I switched over from weekly track intervals to hill repeats since my next race I'm focusing on is Ragnar DC where all three of my legs will be hilly. So no, I wouldn't think you're crazy for running laps around your neighboring hilly block.

    Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete