The other kind of speed work.

Yesterday it was pouring rain so I did what any treadmill junkie would do… drove to the gym and ran 7 miles. I swear it gets hotter and hotter every time I run indoors. I was wearing my Champion t-shirt and I think I could have wrung it out at the end with all of my sweat. I might as well have gone running in the rain!

I did a bit of a cool down after the 7 miles (8:37 min/mile) and then 15 minutes of stairs, some leg work, and stretching. If you can believe it, stretching has become one of my favourite parts of my workout. It is habit now and getting to lie down and feel each muscle stretch and relax is fabulous. I stretch every day and it is so cool to me how different my muscles feel each day. Sometimes my hamstrings are super tight and other days I can grab my toes (something I could never do before). It’s cool to get in touch with your body and it really helps me cater to my body’s needs. 

Still rocking the shoe race chip from Sunday. 

This morning I did the other kind of speed work – HILLS. I have never really done hill repeats or intentionally tried doing a really hilly run. The one time I tried doing hill repeats I looked at my Garmin elevation chart afterwards and couldn’t even tell where the supposed “hill” was. I guess it was a bigger hill in person? Well today I decided that instead of running around a track and doing speed intervals I would run the hilliest route I could find. Surprisingly, for a prairie city, St. Albert has quite a few hills!

It was HOT. When I woke up and checked the weather on my phone it was already 12 degrees Celsius, with clear skies, and the temperature was climbing quickly. I am so used to stepping outside and being cold and having to warm up for the first few miles of my run… today I was warm the moment I stepped outside! I love the sun!

I didn’t have a certain pace for the hills or a certain heart rate. I didn’t even have my entire route planned out before I left, I just made it up as I went. My one and only goal was to NOT STOP RUNNING UP THE HILLS. A couple of times I felt like I could have walked faster than I was running up the hill but I stuck it out and kept my legs moving to run up the hill. My main reason for doing hills instead of speed work was recovery. Hills are hard and I knew I was going to slow down but I wanted to maintain my form going up the hill, and learn to recover faster when I reach the top. Getting my HR down as soon as I could really helped me carry on with my run from the top of the hill. My overall pace was 8:45 min/mile which I guess really proves that the pace doesn’t really tell the whole story. On a normal run that would be an “easy, conversational” pace for me but I worked really hard for that pace today on the hills. 

I was happy to be able to actually see my elevation changes on the Garmin elevation chart. That would have been really disappointing to come home and see a straight line with a couple of bumps. Some of these hills were killer!

For a girl who can take off in a couple of different directions from her house and manage to run for over an hour with less than 3 ft of elevation change, 500 ft was pretty serious. I don’t really know if that is a lot or a really tiny amount but it was a good amount for almost 11 miles for me. Some days I avoid all hills and the only significant uphill climb is my driveway… so this was a nice change! 

For every uphill there is a downhill and I was so very thankful for each downhill I ran. They were usually right after the uphill so they were mostly used for recovery (both breathing and HR).

I can see why so many people swear by hill training. It really trains your whole body – your muscles, your breathing, your form, your HR, your recovery. I kind of hated it at some points but I knew it was probably really good for me. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right? I set out for longer than 8 miles and managed to do 10.69. Hills will definitely be integrated into my training, it was a nice switch up from the usual speed intervals!

I might even do hill repeats next time… but let’s not get crazy. I am spending my day working and packing because my family and I are hitting the road to Winnipeg tomorrow! It’s going to be a long drive, especially for four people who are pretty active and on the go all the time! Thursday hill run = greatly appreciated Friday rest day. My muscles are probably happy that I will be forced to sit and be on the road for 13 hours 😉

Favourite hill workout?

What is YOUR goal when you run hills? Maintain pace? Maintain HR? Not die?


  1. Depends on what I am training for … right now I am training for trail races so I do a variety of things. I run fast up short hills and long hills. But I also practice power walking up steep hills because usually in ultra runs or trail runs there will be times when I have to walk. Hills are fun but they are killer! I also practice running down hills. That makes a difference too.

  2. I have hills upcoming in my training plan. Not looking forward to it at all. I usually avoid hills at all costs, but I know it will be for the best. Your run looked pretty intense.

  3. Nice work on those hills! Well done.
    My favourite hill workout lately has been down in Hawerlak Park. There is a trail almost exactly 1 mile long that’s rolling hills the first 1300m and then about a 8-10% grade to finish. I try to do 1 mile tempo repeats on that trail. Really good for strengthening the legs. When I’m going either up or down I try to maintain a certain pace and let HR recover between sets.
    – Shawn

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