After going through all of my pictures i have on my computer, the only one i could find to express my feeling of a tough hill is the one above. You know the kind; when you may as well be going up the side of a wall. The kind where you might just put your hands down and crawl your way up it.
Well, that’s officially the type of hill at Shelby Forrest. I have gone back and forth and back and forth on whether or not to introduce the runners to these hills. The pro’s: hills are the best strength training you can do, these hills will make nashville hills look like little babies, the scenery is great, 9 miles on these hills are going to make 13 miles on road feel like a breeze…. The con’s: it’s going to take twice as long as 9 miles on the road, it will be the hardest run most people have ever done, people may never speak to me again after this run.
In all seriousness, i think it’s a great run IF done correctly! I would seriously be fine if 80% of it was walked. It’s more about building strength in the legs than it is running the distance.
Here are my rules for these types of hills:
* NEVER run all out- i don’t think there’s any way you can but don’t test it
* if you feel significant tension in any muscles in the back of your legs, slow down immediately and shorten your stride. do not run through pain- your body is telling you to reevaluate your stride on the hills
* if out of breath, slow down. if you need to walk, walk.
* never enter into something of this effort without fuel- eat before and during AND bring something for afterwards
* walk, walk, walk when you need to
* if you have significant knee pain, the downhills are going to be tough for you- walk them
* if you have significant hip or sciatic pain, the uphills are going to be tough for you- walk them or really try to engage your glutes to propel you up the hill
* sloppy form = fatigue and pain; if your low back starts to hurt (this is in any run), stand up straighter- make that core do it’s job!
* take it slow
* enjoy the scenery
* don’t look at your watch; who gives a flip what your pace is
Hill form tips:
* stay upright- keep your head over your shoulders and shoulders over the hips and hips over the feet
* shorten your stride; too long a stride will only cause tightness in your hamstrings and quads; a shorter stride will help to relax your hammies
* keep your feet low (on the flats)- the less you have to lift your feet, the more effort you’ll conserve
* on the super steep hills, think of it as climbing stairs- raise your knees and climb the hill with short stair step stride
If it were me, on these hills, i would probably run the uphills at a very steady effort and walk the downhills. I highly suggest all of you trying it to see if this works for you. You’ll work your glutes on the uphill which is a great perk and you’ll save your quads and knees on the downhill.
Have i scared anyone off yet? I hope i’ve caused you to be alert but haven’t caused you to stay in bed on saturday. I want to be honest about this endeavor so that everyone is nutritionally prepared. Otherwise, it will just suck, plain and simple. However, since everyone has had time to get prepared, it’s going to be epic!
some great hill quotes to psych you up:
“the introduction of resistance in the form of sand and hill is too important to be ignored.” percy cerutty
“hills are speedwork in disguise.” frank shorter
“i like hills because you can see the top. i know that sounds glib, but you know that the hill is not going to keep appearing; it’s there and once you get to the top it’s behind you, and you feel as though you have conquered something.” rob de castella
“running hils breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to new stresses. The result? you become stronger.” eamonn coghlan
By the way, if i didn’t have confidence in my runners, we would never be visiting the Forrest. But i do, so we are 🙂