My first season of Team in Training, Coach Ramon spooked us all with his talk of the tough cycle of hill workouts we would have right before our long run mileage really got up there. Hills? we murmured nervously amongst ourselves. He’s going to make us run–fast–up hills? I was alarmed, but into the personal challenge. The workouts left me a puddle of sweat and my legs like jelly, but I still felt tough afterwards. So when Danielle suggested paced hill repeats to build strength before I began my speed work, I immediately agreed. I can never get enough of feeling tough.
Yesterday I ran five repeats up Cat Hill in Central Park, with a mile warm up and a mile cool down, for a total of five miles. Danielle told me that the main point of the paced workouts was to run hard up the hill, but to keep the splits as close as possible. I was remarkably relaxed for this workout–I used to always get a little nervous and unsure before the Nike Speed workouts–and I think it’s why I hit my splits so evenly. 1:29, 1:29, 1:24, 1:27 and 1:24. To take my mind off the pain of the repeats, I focused on my form, trying to remember the tilt at my ankle, and to pump my ams as if they were on parallel rails, not intersecting streets. I also kept my eyes peeled at the stop point, the lamp post just past the cat statue, and ran only towards that. The last two hills, my quads were burning and I was panting pretty hard, it took me about a quarter mile for my heart rate to settle down to normal after the last repeat. Does it make me a sick puppy that I’m looking forward to my six repeats up Cat Hill next week?