Hill Training

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Try these simple steps to gradually increase strength, avoid injury and enjoy running hills.

Our favorite time of year… training.

If you’ve signed up for a new race, a course that you’ve never run before, it might be in your best interest to check the incline of the route. Running hills building strength better than any other type of workout, so don’t shy away from a hilly course. Speaking from experience, it takes much more out of you to run a hilly course compared to a flat course. In fact, my race in June is extremely hilly, and I’m already starting to dread one hill in particular!

According to Runner’s World, “Running inclines forces your muscles to work harder; as you grow stronger, your stride becomes more efficient and your speed improves” (UK 12/12).  If you are avoiding hills just because they are difficult, here are a few simple tips RW provides to gradually introducing hills to increase strength and reduce the challenges to boost your fitness.

1. Start easy
on your first hill workout, jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then walk two minutes to lower your heart rate. From the bottom of a gentle incline, run up at an easy pace for five seconds, then walk back to the starting point. Run up again for seven seconds, walk down. Finally, run for ten seconds, and walk back down. Repeat as often as possible. Cool down with a 15-minute jog. See step four for maintaining good form.

Running Hills
2. Progress Slowly-
Do step one several times, increasing times as possible. Once you are comfortable with that workout, ramp it up. Run up the hill for ten seconds, twice, followed by running up the hill for 15 seconds, twice. Follow this up with running up the hill for 20 seconds, repeat twice before rounding off the workout with a 30-second run.

3. Stick with it-
It’s easy to lose the progress you’ve made if you aren’t out there running hills… but you don’t need to run it every day. RW suggests scheduling a hill run every seven to 14 days. Once you’ve conquered step 2, add extra reps until you are running a total of 10 inclines. If you’re running a race with hills, try to find hills that mimic the course you will be running.

4. Maintain Good Form-
It’s easy to injure yourself on a hilly course, so make sure you are maintaining good form… As you ascend, shorten your stride and keep feet low to the ground. Keep your head, chest and hips perpendicular to an imaginary  horizontal line. On descents, take short quick, light steps (don’t pound the pavement), and keep your center of gravity over your legs (don’t lean forward).

So there are our tips; and if you are a runner, give us your tips on introducing hills into your routine. If you’re a beginner, feel free to leave questions if you have any!

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Close of 2012

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What an amazing year… how can you begin to cover the highlights of such a fabulous year?

At midnight tonight, the gorgeous ball will drop in Town Square, and we will toast to a New Year! We’ve got the wine chilling, the treats tucked away in the fridge, and our bags packed to head back to Virginia in the morning. I love the holidays, but I also love the chance to a new beginning. I know that while 2012 was amazing, 2013 is also going to be phenomenal. One of the reasons is because I was able to graduate with my undergraduate degree this December, and I am truly able to begin afresh in January. So, while everyone is wildly excited about our new year: 2013, I’m still recovering from 2012!

So I’m gunna go ahead and brag (haha),  you can see why it’s been an exhausting year.

Here are a few highlights:

  • got a great promotion at work
  • ran two awesome half-marathons
  • did a little traveling
  • completed my undergraduate degree
  • ran over 500 miles (which was my goal)

Needless to say, I’ve spent my Christmas break sleeping! Regardless of all this, I still reached my goal of running 60 miles in December… Despite all my days spent traveling 🙂 They were mostly short runs, around three miles, and my longest run was five miles. Considering most people drop off the fitness planet in December, I’m pretty happy with it!

December Run Goal
I’m planning on posting all my New Years goals later this week, things like the races I want to run and PR’s 🙂 My goals aren’t just about fitness, but about keeping my life balanced… so keep posted for all of that!

Some of our New Years Resolutions

Some of our New Years Resolutions

Knees. Knees. Knees.

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One of our most recent questions come from Life as the Fat Friend, who recently asked for suggestions for her knees:

“Knees. Knees. Knees. I have OA in my knees. Any suggestions for knees would be awesome.”

One of the most common struggles with running is KNEE issues! We recently wrote a post about Dealing with knee injuries back in September… and here I’m going to talk about how to take it easy on the track to stay away from knee problems (please note, I’m a runner not a doctor. And I just run for recreation. This is not a professional opinion, just what works for me).

1. Stay away from hills. When I’m running up and down hills, it starts to bother my knees because you are putting more pressure on your legs than usual—up to ten times your body weight with each step.

2. Basic strength training. A lazy runner is someone who only runs (you didn’t hear that from me). Take time to go Yoga, Pilates, do squats, and other strength training so your muscles supporting your knees can handle the impact. Work on strengthening your thigh muscles!

3. Stretching. SHAPE has some great Stretches for Healthy Knees for your post run cool down!

4. The right running shoes. In my experience, this has made the most difference. Get shoes that are made for the way you run and the type of surface you run on.

5. Keep the legs straight! Hit the ground with your foot… not your heel. By making your foot hit the ground correctly, this can take a lot of the impact off of your knees.

6. Find a park with shale or dirt trails to run at as much as possible. I can’t get to a park every day, but I aim for the park on my long runs or weekend runs! Plus, it’s so much prettier away from the roads 🙂

Life as the Fat Friend, Hope that all helps you out, I know knee pain can set you back, but hopefully this can help you ease back into running the distance you want to be running!

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on getting the knees healthy, let me know!

Dead Last Trumps Did Not Start

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If you run without any reason, you are just chasing the wind.
Wesley Korir, 2012 Boston Marathon Winner
This weekend I biked down to the boardwalk and tried to run. After about 3 miles, I was exhausted. Do you guys ever feel that way? Thus, I found this picture extremely inspiring… because I’m proud of myself for getting out there. After beating myself up, I biked back and worked on my strength training routine I’ve been working on. Surprisingly enough, I was able to hold my planks and V-sits for longer than I’d ever done before! I may not be running my best right now, but I’m about to have some ripped abs 🙂
I’m really thankful that the weather is cooling down this week, and I’ll be able to get out and do a longer run! I’ve got to get some training in to be able to run in the Wicked 10k at the end of October! I’m planning on running it with friends, so we’re going to start our hard-core training soon (yes, I’ll still need to train for this race since I’ve been taking it easy this summer)! Here’s my post from last year: Wicked 10K, which I did in 59:24. My goal this year is to shave at least 10 minutes off that time, and get a time of 45:00 or under!