Hill running. Ouch.

Steep hill
photo credit: FindYourSearch

There are some days at the gym when you know it’s not happening.  You know it and your legs know it.  You might think you want to be there, in theory; but deep down you know your heart is at home, sat on the sofa, with a hotdog and a tub of ben and jerry’s (not that my other half would let me anywhere near the sofa with either of those two items).

Today was one of those days.  I found my usual treadmill in the corner of the gym with a growing sense of doom about the whole sorry situation.  I started running.  Within a minute I was thinking of the chocolate fudge brownie milkshake I had at home in the fridge.  It was calling.  I stopped.  If there was any chance of salvaging the workout, I would have to make it short, but make it count.

So that was when I made the decision to do hills.  I did four sets of 250m at 7% incline and 11km/h; then I collapsed to the floor, weeping.  (Not literally.  In my mind.)  Oh my god and all his angels, I thought.  What sadistic new hell is this?

photo credit: yoshimov

The above is me doing hill runs.

The whole debacle came about on the wise recommendation of a twitter follower, who pointed out that hills were a necessity for improving stamina.  There’s a reason for that.  Hills are sadistic.  They are categorically not fun.  They will literally bugger up your thighs and have you crying out for your mother by the time they’re done with you.

I know, I know, the point is to keep doing them and improve.  But I feel a bit torn here.  I want to improve; but at the same time I want to enjoy running.  It’s not like I’m an olympic athlete (HA!)  I’m just a regular, lardy runner trying to get a bit of regular exercise.  Is it really worth going through the pain of hills, in the hope they they will improve my times without destroying my love for running?  What do you think?

Aurora uses the treadmill
Photo credit: Christina T

The above is me after I finished.


6 thoughts on “Hill running. Ouch.

  1. “Is it really worth going through the pain of hills, in the hope they they will improve my times without destroying my love for running?”

    Try doing them much slower and build the speed up gradually. Running uphill at the same speed you would run on the flat will exhaust you, make you miserable and put you off. Running them at a speed you can sustain and breathe comfortably will improve your fitness very rapidly. Fell runners don’t try and run the same speed uphill as on the flat (well, only the craziest ones), and hills is what we do.

    • Hi MrHare, thanks for commenting – you’re totally right. I know I should do hills – I think what puts me off is that no matter how slowly I do them, they still seem incredibly difficult! I must have pathetic thigh muscles 🙂 Anyway you’ve inspired me to give them another go, wish me luck!

      • Good luck! Just remember – running up hills is *hard*. Every 100m of height you gain is like running another 1km – by my reckoning on a 10% incline you’re working roughly twice as hard as on the flat.

        But if you want to be able to knock out 2 hour half marathons, regular running uphill will get you there.

      • you’re right. thanks for the kick up the bum 🙂 I tried a few hills this morning when I went to the gym but next time I’m going to go to the park and do them properly. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Yes hills are worth it out in the countryside, the satisfaction of reaching the top of a hill is fantastic, your effort in the treadmill sounds like torture, I train mostly in the flatter roads but like to have one longish run a week on hills, in my head it counts for more miles, my 14.5 miles 9 on hills the other day shall count for 18 miles for effort, running a marathon 2nd June so need to build up the miles. Happy Running to you.

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