Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do Hills Make You Faster?

As my running has gone from shorter to longer distances I have paid less attention to speed, focusing instead on time on my feet. I even stopped running hills for a while to simulate walking them during a race. Now that I have completed a number of ultras, I have started thinking about running them faster.

To be faster I thought, "be stronger on the hills". So during the past few months, I began incorporating hill work into my runs again. This included hill repeats once a week and no more walking....well almost none. For the most part I decided to run hills during all workouts and run them hard. I also began increasing my general pace, no longer settling for slower long runs. Don't get me wrong they are still slow but about 5-10% faster on average. I attribute most of this to running rather than walking the hills.

Last week I went to the track with a friend of mine. It was the first time I had been to a track in over 5 months.

1.5 mile warm up

6 x 1/2 mile repeats with 1/4 mile easy between each

1 mile cool down

What a surprise! My 1/2 mile splits averaged 10 seconds faster than 5 months ago. I think that is substantial, going from a 6:45 to a 6:25 pace for this particular workout. So this begs the question "Do Hills Make You Faster?". I did not run a single speed work out and have been "running" hills almost exclusively off road for months.

I am going to keep running the hills during training as it seems to be working. Not only for speed work, but on long runs too.

What do you do to build strength and speed? Please share your secrets.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bear Mountain Rocks

Bear Mountain is certainly at the top of my list of favorite places to run. There is something for everyone, from fire roads and beautiful winding single track, to some of the most technical and demanding terrain I have ever run/hiked. There are amazing views from the trails and mountain tops as you cruise by many lakes along the way and over valleys from above.

Today my friend Howard and I went on a little 3 hour adventure at Bear Mountain. We covered just over 14 miles with almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain and had a blast.

The original plan was to cover the half marathon course set by The North Face as part of TNF's Endurance Challenge held at Bear Mountain. Personally I think we would have succeeded if Howard did not keep wandering off to look for something???

Actually, as usual, I got lost. But for me that's part of the adventure. Nothing wrong with missing a turn in paradise and prolonging my return to the parking lot.

I will be back there again soon and will definitely plan a long training run this fall which will surely be spectacular. I promise a more detailed write up on Bear Mountain after the next journey with lots of cool photos.

On a side note this was Howard's a.k.a "Howie" first time at Bear Mountain or any other technical track. I think he plans to join me in the fall...perhaps another one hooked? Peace


Saturday, August 7, 2010


Have you ever loved someone so much you can't actually put it into words. If you are asked why you love that person you simply reply, "I just do".

Today I ran for several hours. It was the first time I have run for that long, alone, in months. As much as I enjoy running with my friends, there is something special about a nice long solo run, early in the morning as the world rises around me to begin a new day. This instills a feeling of freedom within me and generates a great deal of reflection. To explain the way I felt during and after my run would take many many words.

I will instead quote John Morelock from his "Run Gently Out There" column in the latest issue of Ultra Running Magazine.

"To someone who understands, no explanation necessary. To someone who does not understand, no amount of explanation will suffice."

I hope, for one moment, everyone feels the way I feel today. I love my life......I just do!

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