Over the weekend, I complained about the hills at Saturday’s race, The Beamsville Bench. The course (a 5K course over a 2.5K loop) started on an uphill for about 700m, plateaued and then dropped, climbed again from 2k to 3K, flattened again, and climbed from 4K to the finish. The hills were easier than the ones that I train on but, combined with the heat on the day of the race, I had nothing left to give for the last kilometre; my quads died.
When I described what I went through to my coach, his response was simple: more hill work. Umm, no thank you; I have quite enough as it is. But when this week’s training schedule arrived in our inboxes, today’s workout revealed the dreaded hill repeats. On top of that, the GTA is in a middle of a heatwave and with high humidity, so our hill workout was guaranteed to be tough. Oh joy! Heat, humidity and hills. What more could a girl want?
Normally, I don’t mind hill repeats. They are hard, but each repeat is usually just a minute long so it ends quickly, especially when you compare it to a tempo run which lasts for twenty minutes or longer. The only real problem with hill repeats is they come in droves and the reprieve between each never seems long enough. Without a doubt, training on hills does make me a stronger runner. If I am going to race on them, I need to train on them too.
By 6:00, luckily or not, the “feels like” temperature was hovering around 35 degrees celsius so our workout was “simplified”: a 6K tempo with 3 hills. The men took off ahead of my training partner, Kelly-Lynne, and me. The two of us stuck together, not knowing at the time that each of us was simply trying to hang onto the other. We pulled each other around the looped trails and up and down each of the three dreaded hills. Teamwork.
After our tempo, all of us headed to the splash pad across the street from the entrance to the trails. Socks and shoes came off and we walked through, letting the water cool our feet which, in turn, helped lower our body temperature. The rest was easy: a short cool-down run back to the Rec. Centre.
Once I got home, I raved about my tonight’s run, brought to me by heat, humidity and hills. Am I crazy? Probably, but I know my limits and had the safety of running with my training partners. And the next time I have to race hills in the heat, I’ll be just a little bit stronger.