Tag Archives: hill repeats

The Hills Series: One Last Time

1 May

The plan: Jump right out of bed at 5:30 AM, super pumped and raring to go. Tackle that beast of  a hill 5 more times, the last set of hill repeats before the Jog4Jugs Half Marathon next weekend. Run back to the car super pumped and raring to go.

What actually happened: Alarm goes off. Anxiety. I tap my husband on the shoulder and tell him I didn’t sleep well and maybe I should just wait until later. He says all sleepy-like, “Do it anyway, you know you’ll feel better when you’re done.” Damn, he saw right through me. Up and at ’em and off I went at 5:50 AM!

  • Warm up: 1 mile to the bottom of the hill, light stretch, turn on hill-busting music
  • Hill repeats: Go up at medium-hard effort, use all positive mantras in my pep-talk arsenal, easy down, repeat 5x
  • Cool down: 1 mile back to the car, light stretch
  • Total mileage: 3.6
  • Drive home: Finish my bottle of nuun water, breathe
  • Home: Stretch, hydrate, shower, feel good that I didn’t put off the workout

Unlike last time, I was not going to let self-doubt get the best of me. It tried to creep in, but I was determined! This workout was all about making it count and reminding myself that I can and will make it through this hilly half marathon.

Going UpNo more hill or speed workouts in this training cycle! After my long run this Saturday morning, it will be all about the taper.

Now that this last hill workout is behind me, I can go home and enjoy a beautiful evening with my husband. The weather forecast is sunny with a 100% chance of ice cream.


The Hills Series: I need a bigger hill

23 Apr

After biking the course for my upcoming half marathon, I have to admit I am feeling a bit intimidated by the challenge of 13.1 miles of hills upon hills. For the past two days I have been struggling with self-doubt about my ability to meet this challenge.

I have been doing hill repeats once a week since registering for this race last month, but these hills are puny in comparison to the inclines monsters I will be running up on May 11. This led me to a very real conclusion: I need to find a bigger hill.

On the way home from our bike ride Sunday, Mark and I scouted a hill just outside town that looked like a good candidate for my last couple of hill repeat sessions before the race goes off. It seemed pretty similar to some of the hill-age on the course (long and fairly steep), so I plotted my attack: give my legs a full day of rest and then hit the hill on Tuesday.

Bright and early this morning, I made my way over to the chosen hill. After about a mile warmup and quick stretch, I headed up.

About halfway up the first time is when I started hating life and my legs turned into lead. “How am I ever going to make it through this half marathon?”

On the way back down, I tried to visualize getting over the biggest hill on the course and the many words of encouragement Mark had said to me. “OK, I can do this.”

Then back to some other negative mumbo-jumbo mixed with some choice expletives.

Repeat this exact process 3 more times.

When I came down the hill for the 4th time, part of me just wanted to cry and go home. Then I heard the tiniest little whisper inside me say, “No.”

I flipped on my best hill-busting song and went back up for my 5th and final hill, keeping all of the tips in mind for form and effort. I kept my eyes on the prize – a big tree just over the crest. It was painful and slow, but I made it.

hills 4_23

On the way down, my thoughts were all over the place. I don’t even remember them. What I remember is that somewhere during the mile cool down, a calm came over me. I realized that the biggest challenge for this race is going to be mental. If I let myself get stuck in doubt, I won’t stand a chance.

Surely, the hills will be brutal. But I won’t let them beat me. I am strong, determined, and ready.

Going UpI can do it.I can do it.I can do it.I can do it.I can do it.I can do it.I can do it. I can.

Just. Keep. Going.

This week on The Hills: Play this song on repeat

11 Apr

Running without any electronic attachments certainly has its value to create a more attuned mind/body experience. However, sometimes you just need music with a dirty beat to get your engine going and keep your heart pumping. Like, say, for instance, when you are about to do some hill repeats.

There is plenty of research that backs up the idea that music can be a powerful motivator to get moving, can distract the mind while heart rate increases, and can help moderate tempo throughout the miles. We’ve all got our go-to playlists for every type of run and workout we do. (Admit it, there’s a Journey song or two on yours.) I typically run with some kind of music playing, usually based on mood and sometimes based on workout intensity. You know what’s a really intense workout? Hill repeats. This is a workout where I need a good beat to keep me moving.

This, my friends, is my favorite song for crushing hills:

will.i.am – T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever) Note: I use the explicit version.

Now, this song ranges from about 106-128 BPM. The recommendation for efficient running cadence is to match your stride to 180 BPM. This song works for me on the hills because I pay more attention to the lyrics, “You can go hard, or you can home” more than I try to match my pace to the beat. When I’m about to start my hill intervals, I often flip to this song to pump me up. Sometimes, I put it on repeat and just keep going.

Here are a couple of other songs that I have on my running playlist for the times when I’m using music for pacing:

Sparta – Taking Back Control (161) BPM


TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me (177 BPM)


The Black Keys – Everlasting Light (180) BPM


The Postal Service – Such Great Heights (185 BPM) [This is also great as a strings version by The Section Quartet]


What’s on your hill repeat playlist?

Speaking of hill repeats…

I set my alarm for 5:21 AM this morning and I DIDN’T HIT SNOOZE! That’s right, I am feeling better and I was ready to tackle a pre-dawn workout. I started out with this awesome Booty Burner workout from Brooke at Running in Heels. She is doing an awesome Beach Body Challenge complete with daily strength training, cardio, recipe, and motivation. I’m not able to the challenge 100% (half marathon training and all) but I’m mixing in some of the strength training with my own plan. If you want to do the challenge, check it out!

This was my warmup for The Hills:

I guess today’s goal was to take on some hills with legs that were a little fatigued to mimic how I might be feeling at some point during the hilliest half I might ever run in May.

After I was warm and caffeinated (thanks to Cherry Limeade nuun!) I headed out on the road (in the DAYLIGHT) and toward my plan of hill-attack.


I warmed up my running muscles for about a mile, then started up hill #1 and repeated 5 times. Then on to #2, which I repeated 5 times. Then I headed toward home, about 3/4 mile and cooled down. Overall, I did 3.42 miles, about 34 minutes total (including any rest/recovery time on the downhills).

Though I’m sure I will be feeling this pretty hard tomorrow, it was a great workout and has left me with a pretty powerful runner’s high (just ask my husband, he thought I was crazy for a minute). Taking those two days off for rest was a brilliant idea! Looking forward to a recovery run tomorrow and 9 miles Saturday!