This is the elevation profile for the half marathon I impulsively signed up for a few weeks ago:
Hill running is probably the number one thing I forget about when I’m training for races. This is due to a number of factors:
- I started training for my first half marathon when I lived in Philadelphia. The big races like the Distance Run (RIP) and Philadelphia Half Marathon are pretty flat, so I didn’t really have a need to ever run hills.
- My usual running routes in Austin are fairly flat.
- I generally avoid races with lots of hills because I don’t think I’m a good hill runner. Since I avoid hilly races, I never train on hills and don’t get better. It’s a vicious cycle.
I have never done well with traditional hill repeats like these. My knees always feel dreadful afterwards and I end up having to take time off. This issue even dates back to high school when I was a wee young thing with 20+ less pounds on my body. I’ve never really figured out if this is an issue with my form or a problem with my actual knees. And honestly, I’m not very motivated to seek professional advice when I know I can avoid the issue by not running hill repeats.
My knees feel fine if I work hills into my regular runs. I’ve started working a nearby 4.3 mile loop into my training in anticipation of the Decker hills. None of them are quite as bad as the mile 8 or mile 10 climbs on the Decker course but it’s definitely a good workout if I try to run hard on the inclines:
Working hills into my long runs is a little trickier. My preferred place for long runs is Lady Bird Lake because I don’t have to stop for traffic or carry water. But that trail’s mostly flat, which makes me a bit nervous if I’m training for a hilly half. Sadly, it may be time for me to suck it up and do my upcoming 13 and 14 mile runs on the road.