Wanted: Hill Seeker

Hills. We love ‘em. We hate ‘em. We never want to admit that we really need them. Oh but Grasshopper, We Do. We need them especially if we’re training for our very first Ultra Marathon. {Insert dry heaves here.} Enter The Hill Repeat. I’m just going to head straight to the punchline. I’ve never felt more weak in my life.

I did Hill Repeats yesterday. Or some lame ass version of them. I usually incorporate hills into my runs and rarely set out to run strict hill repeats. I’m learning that if I want to complete this 50K with both legs still firmly on, I need to do a legitimate Hill Workout at least once a week. So. With this realization in mind, I decided to carve out time for the ever elusive Run at Lunch. I wedged it right in the middle of an eternally long experiment. 004(Fact: I’m a scientist in real life. One that is currently wearing purple skinny jeans, a Madonna concert tee and a leopard print band aid on my thumb, but nevertheless a Lab Nerd. So there you go- a little about Colby.) The good thing about a long experiment is that at some point you may be lucky enough to have a window of opportunity to embark on a Run at Lunch.  Although about as rare as spotting a unicorn with a rainbow mane bearing a roll of parchment with The Cure written on it, I did manage to find myself with a window of time. So I seized it.

Hill Repeats suck. Run hard uphill. Recover downhill. Build strength and power. That’s really about it, right? That was my goal. I was initially pumped. EYE OF THE TIGER, BABY!  What happened was that after “warming” up by running a very unpleasant, hot, humid 4.5 miles in a steaming concrete jungle, I found a nasty long hill to run up. It was then, during that very first one, that I realized how weak I am. I powered up that hill with all I had.  Efficient Colby. Short stride. Chest up. Elbows driving back. Eyes looking toward the crest of the hill.  My heart rate is rocketing. I am huffing. And puffing. Sweat is stinging my eyes.  I am momentarily blinded.  Surely I’m making progress!  I squint at my watch.

20 goddamn seconds.

 That’s all.

Oh Poodles. I have a long way to go.

I am pleased to say that despite exhaustion and heat stroke, I endured. How? I’m not sure. But Hooray!!


I ran uphill as hard as I possibly could for 60 seconds (which in a bizarre twist, ended right at the top. Nice hill choice!) Then I ran jogged rolled back down, catching my breathe and repeated the sadistic ritual for 10 minutes. I figured less was more.  Besides, I was red lining. It was hard.

But between you and I, I loved it.  Pain, suffering and all. It showed me my weakness which isn’t a bad thing at all. Revealing a weakness is creating an opportunity for growth. Hills are an opportunity for me to prove to myself that I am stronger than I think.  Weaknesses turn into strengths with drive, grit and determination. They don’t call hills Mounds of Opportunity for nothin’. 🙂




34 thoughts on “Wanted: Hill Seeker

  1. I love to complain about hills, but really I LOVE hills. I don’t have a lot in the way of non-hilly running options around me so I had to learn to tolerate them right off the bat. I feel like most of my runs are one big hill repeat.

  2. Heh I just talked about this on my blog–Embrace the uphill, ride the downhill. I actually miss hills, because then a) I had far fewer injuries and b) everything else is totally doable and seems almost easy. Good job for not dying. I’m pretty sure the concrete jungle would have insta-cremated you

  3. Love me some hills! In that sadistic hateful way at least.
    The best part about hills is that you can squeeze a lot of workout into a very little time frame. I feel like 10 minutes of hill sprints = as much ice cream as a 10 mile slow run. Get it girl.

  4. Oh girl. Hill repeats are my weekday activity. 30 days until the San Francisco marathon. I haven’t started hyperventilating yet but I am also no where near ready for those hills. Using my taper time to work on hills. Fun fun fun

    • You’re living and breathing hills with that beast on your horizon! I’m in a sea of hills here— mostly rolling ones. But as for Hill Repeats, I believe they will be a weekly workout. 😦

      • Yes I will be doing hill repeats 2Xs a week and then long slow uphill runs in Beachwood Canyon…from the last major street to Sunset Ranch is 2 miles uphill at a similar grade to SF. I fortunately live at the base of the Hollywood Hills so have but to walk out my door and head north to find some hills to conquer. Also on the agenda: Bar Method classes (I work there too) for quad and glute strengthening, squats, and lunges, and some treadmill incline work.

  5. Hill seeker…I get it. nice. Ha, I’m with you. I secretly love hill repeats. I used to hate them, but I’ve come around. Good luck to you on your mounds of opportunity you hipster nerd you.

  6. As the Kenyans are fond of saying – Hills are an opportunity to get stronger. I run hills a little unconventionally in that I pull my arms in close, shorten my stride, put my head down and run like I’m almost in a boxer’s crouch. It helps to NOT look up at the top of the hill whilst climbing it. Hills are your friend – really. Just like Reese’s Peanut Bitter Cups.

    • I should put a jar of RPBCs at the crest of the hill. Then I’d sail up ’em. Sadly, if I had done that, they would have melted in a nanosecond. And that would have been a damn shame.

  7. Good for you, Colby! Set out with intention and get it done! I feel like we are making the same discoveries at the same time – today I set out on hills, too. Not a “hill work out” specifically, but a run with hills. (aka Run uphill for 3 miles, then run back down). My heart was going to bound out of my chest and lay panting on the ground with arms and legs spread demanding I explain why I was torturing it so. But I did it! (although, I do admit I took walk breaks), and it feels good to know I Can. Yet my conclusion is the same: I am weak, and must do more hills!

    • Bravo!! Love that we have each other to ping “Miserable Adventures in 50K Training” experiences off of! Actually, they’re not all miserable. They’re inspiring and incredibly fulfilling, rotten hill repeats and all. Go get ’em Alaina!!! Can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

  8. I love hills also. I like to say “I eat them for breakfast and throw them up at lunch”. Lovely, I know. But a good hill work out will make you fell like tossing your cookies into the bushes.
    When I run a flat course I feel that I am at a competitive dis-advantage. I’m not a great hill runner, but hills knock the snot out of most people.
    Hills can also mess with your hamstrings and piriformis. So be carefull out there.

      • But you love it!
        So you are a lab rat. My wife was a lab rat for 20 years +/- but as the company grew the politcs become unbearable. She’s teaching IB Biology and and a few Freshman classes just for fun.

      • I am a Lab Rat! I too have been one since The Beginning. And the politics ARE unbearable. The larger the company, the worse they are. I know that first hand. Bravo to her for teaching!! That’s been on my radar as the Pharma Landscape ebbs and flows. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll pack it all in and become a Mountain Guide. With all this hill bullshit, it might be the next logical step…. 😉

  9. Pingback: Marathon Monday WK 11: Grit & Spit Lessons for Your Life – Run Pink Jess

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