Embracing the Hills

When we first moved to Greenville, I was terrified of hills. In my life, up to that point, I had lived in Houston, Central Illinois, South Florida, Singapore and Hamburg. All pancake flat. If you wanted to run a hill, you had to seek it out and even then, you were probably on a bridge of some sort.

When I started running more seriously in Greenville, I avoided the hills at all costs. When I was training to break 2:00 for the first time in a half marathon, I did my first ever 14-mile training run as two 3.5-mile out-and-backs on a trail, just so I could avoid any big hills. And when I was marathon training for the first time, I was known to park in Cleveland Park (the lowest point in the city) and walk about a mile up to the highest point in the city, so that I could run 20-miles with a net downhill.

Of course, it was nearly impossible to avoid all hills, especially when I started training with friends. But even then, I would obsess over them. I would announce to the group if I knew one was coming and run in fear until I was up and over it.

As the years have gone by, I have become more comfortable with hills. I have learned to quiet the voices that tell me that I can’t get up them and would mostly plan long run routes without a great deal of thought about exactly where the hills were. I wasn’t afraid to climb out of the park to head home at the end of my runs anymore.

BUT, as recently as B2B training, I still found that my “regular” loops included an out-and-back on a flat section that is typically busy with traffic. And my tempo runs, always went on the same, what I would consider, least rolling route from my house.

Why though? Why would I take Walter on a busy road, when we could run the beautiful, traffic-free neighborhood streets? Why would I deal with crappy sidewalks and stopping at stop lights when I could enjoy the tree-lined side streets and lovely old homes? Why would I run the SAME streets over and over, when there could be so much more variety in my routes?

Slowly as I have been building up my mileage again after B2B, I have ventured out on hillier roads for recovery runs and easy efforts. And finally Friday, during a short 3-mile recovery run, I had a revelation: I will embrace the hills. I will use them to make me a stronger, more confident runner. I will use them to get faster. I am fortunate to live in an area where I have hills to run on and I will take advantage of them.

So as I set off for a run yesterday afternoon, I went with the intention of exploring new neighborhoods. I ventured into new areas, that are so close to my house, but I had never run before. It was a beautiful fall day and I felt AMAZING. I ran just shy of 8 miles at an 8:13 pace and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now I am on the hunt for new “regular” routes. I want to find new routes at every distance, that don’t include flat out-and-backs. I also want to take off for a run without a plan and see what I find. I have BIG MARATHON GOALS in 2013 and finally learning to embrace the hills is just one more step in making me the runner I want to become.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in Goals, Greenville, running, training, walter. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Embracing the Hills

  1. Jaclyn says:

    Go tackle those hills girl!

  2. RunToInspire says:

    Totally agree- learning to love hills will make you stronger/faster/fitter!

  3. Awesome! I wish we had the option of hills around here… I definitely think it would make me a stronger runner. Fantastic pace on your run! Can’t wait to hear more about your big marathon goals. 🙂

  4. oddly enough I really miss hills. I like running them for some reason…I think mentally I always told myself it allowed me to use different muscles and thus was easier

  5. Carrie says:

    My running and biking routes at home (in Central New York) were quite hilly, which I learned to deal with; I could obsess over the steepness of a climb or hunker down and get my butt to the top. I did my best to choose the latter. Now that I’m in NYC, though, there aren’t a lot of hills (minus the Central Park area). Definitely take advantage and train on them–you’ll become ever faster!

  6. lschwecherl says:

    I actually grew up in a really hilly town, and now in NYC it is so hard to find hills! Once you get used to them, I think you’ll learn to love them! ALSO, I want to secretly share Eugene goals with you..maybe I can try to keep up? 🙂

  7. Steph says:

    Hills definitely make you stronger! I actually am kind of scared of not running on hills! Especially while training, I think I learned my lesson in the past when ruining my race because I wasn’t trained well enough on hills. They can totally make or break a race. Get out there and kill the hills, they will only make you stronger and more confident come race day!

  8. elizabeth says:

    hills will make you stronger!! there is no way to avoid them in my neighborhood. AT ALL. no matter which way i go. It helps me in the long run for sure. i think you will love finding new routes 🙂

  9. Terzah says:

    I love hills, and believe me I wasn’t always that way either. I think they will lead to huge break-throughs for you!

  10. Paulette says:

    Whoo hoo you can rock the hills! I enjoy challenging myself on them in SF, although that doesn’t make it easy…so hard but so good.

  11. Lauren says:

    I love this!! I had a similar attitude when I first moved to Vermont…but then I realized I’d basically have to run the same stretch of road over and over if I wanted to avoid hills. And that got old pretty quickly. There is one route by my house that is exceptionally hilly, and I always have to give myself a little pep talk before I tackle it. But the funny thing is, every time I run that route I feel SO GOOD! I get to the end with the biggest runner’s high and wonder why the heck I was ever worried about running that way in the first place (until next time, when I have to get myself all pumped up again haha). I have definitely seen the difference in my training/times now that I’ve started running hillier routes. They aren’t always fun, but the WILL make you stronger!

  12. Pingback: Lululemon Run Club |

  13. Hill terrify me! Of course, I live in one of those pancake flat places so our idea of hills is parking garages and overpasses. Sometimes I do wish we had some hill routes available because I do believe training on hills makes you stronger. You’re going to kick running’s arse in 2013! Glad I get to be there for at least a stop or two on your journey!!

  14. Christina says:

    I used to live in hilly Heidelberg Germany but back then I wasn’t a runner. Now I’m in pancake flat Midwest and became a runner in these flatlands. I will freak if I ever have to deal with hills as a regular part of running, haha (I know they are good for me but scaaaary!) 🙂

Tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s