Work-it-out Wednesday: hill repeats

Happy hump day hierophants!

Your robes are looking FABULOUS this morning
Your robes are looking FABULOUS this morning

I hope that your work-week is going well. Have you been interpreting any sacred mysteries or esoteric principles lately? My Wednesday was an uphill battle beginning to end. I spent my lunch break on the phone with Comcast in a futile effort to understand why I’m being overcharged for internet that at the present moment doesn’t seem to be capable of connecting my computer to the world-wide web.

My banana phone currently has better internet connectivity than my modem.
My banana phone currently has better internet connectivity than my modem.

I spent my afternoon isolating RNA from Bacillus subtilis cells.

This kit's name is a lie. RNA is never easy
This kit’s name is a lie. RNA is never easy

My day to day research has me working with DNA on a regular basis. DNA is double-stranded and highly stable; there’s a very good reason our cells use this steadfast molecule to store their genetic code. RNA is DNA’s single-stranded, unstable cellular messenger. It degrades quickly, which makes it difficult to work with. RNA is a diva, as far as biological molecules go.

I think of RNA as the Liza Minelli of nucleic acids
I think of RNA as the Liza Minelli of nucleic acids

Onerous chemistry and incompetent customer service made my afternoon seem like a Sysyphean task; fittingly, my morning workout was also an uphill battle of my own choosing.

Remember Sysyphus? HE was a Greek dude who had to push a rock uphill over and over and over again
Remember Sysyphus? HE was a Greek dude who had to push a rock uphill over and over and over again.

This morning I deviated from my typical tempo runs and Yasso 800s to do a deceptively simple and delightfully difficult speed workout. I opted to start my morning with a series of hill repeats.

My GPS data looks kinda funny...back and forth and back and forth
My GPS data looks kinda funny…back and forth and back and forth

Hill repeats are a phenomenal strategy to build speed and power for runners. I’ve heard hill repeats called “strength training in disguise,” because the added challenge of running uphill forces your legs to recruit slow-, fast-, and intermediate-twitch muscle fibers. Running uphill is great for helping to develop your lactate threshold. Running uphill requires significantly more effort, and a higher turnover rate than running on the flats: combining the benefits of a challenging tempo run and a killer interval session into one workout. Jeff Gaudette explains the physiology (and offers up some sample sets) better than I ever could over at competitor.com. Runner’s World also has a great article with pointers for powering up by running uphill.  If you don’t feel like clicking through the links, I’ll break down the workout I did this morning. There are many variations, from short hill sprints, to the 3-2-1 ladder, but I opted for long hill repeats this morning. These are pretty complex, so grab a pen and paper.

I'm full of it. Hill repeats are simple
I’m full of it. Hill repeats are simple

Step 0: Warm up with roughly a mile of easy running.

Step 1: Find a hill.

Nailed it!
Nailed it!

Step 2: Run up it.

Check! (How sad that I have to start wearing my reflective gear...summer is ending)
Check! (How sad that I have to start wearing my reflective gear…summer is ending)

Step 3: Jog down the hill at an easy pace for recovery.

Step 4: Run up the hill again.

Step 5: Repeat 5-6 times.

IMG_4926
HOW many times!?

Step 6: Cool down with a mile of easy running. 

This giraffe was living at the top of the hill. It made the repeats just a little more fun
This giraffe was living at the top of the hill. It made the repeats just a little more fun.

The workout I outlined is probably the simplest hill repeat session you could possibly do. I chose a hill that was just about a half a mile long and I ran up the whole thing four times at roughly my 10K pace. For the last two repeats I pushed my pace to a 5K effort, and only ran halfway up the hill. I consciously focused on maintaining proper running form on the downhill segments. Even though the downhills are supposed to be recovery, this isn’t an excuse to let your legs loose.

How'd my foot get up THERE?
How’d my foot get up THERE?

In fact, downhill running places more demands on your muscular-skeletal system than any other terrain. I focused on my favorite chi-running principles of short strides with a high cadence to make sure that, even though I was going slow down the hill, I was descending in a controlled manner. After finishing my workout I re-fueled with my favorite carbohydrate and set out to tackle the rest of the day’s tasks.

Oatmeal, Elvis, and fresh flowers. What more could I desire?
Oatmeal, Elvis, and fresh flowers. What more could I desire?

How was your hump day?

Hill repeats: love them or loathe them?

Could Comcast’s customer service be ANY worse?

 

8 thoughts on “Work-it-out Wednesday: hill repeats

    1. Move to Seattle Liz! We can get up early and run uphill together! Or maybe Seattle can lend Texas some of our hills, we have plenty to go around (2nd steepest city in the nation after SF!)

      Congrats on the new job, by the way!

      Like

  1. I’m a huge fan of hills. And your stache. And I am also pretty bummed about the darkness that is on the way – I can’t believe how bad it is already!

    Like

    1. Hills are the best! I know a woman who ONLY runs uphill because her joints started giving out.
      I feel like I get totally taken by surprise by the end of summer every year. Busting out the reflective stuff is the first landmark of what’s to come, but luckily the weather’s not quite into tights territory yet.

      Like

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