Hill running, wonders never cease

It’s difficult to drag yourself upstairs and get ready for training when the other lady of the house has other ideas.

Our cat, Fifi

'Don't go running, stay and cuddle me'

But I am strong and Fifi is easily distracted with a ball of paper to chase.

Training today has been all about hill sets. And using the 8kg kettlebell to further work my glutes. So consequently I am sitting here with one well worked out, achy bum!

I had two big revelations today: one, listen to your coach and try to do what he says – it works! Secondly, controlling your breathing is possible.

But firstly can I say a big thank you to Keeping My Pace and The Dancing Runner for all their encouragement earlier this week. I was thinking of you both as I huffed and puffed up the last hills. ‘Doing it for the girls,’ I thought as I wheezed up the final hill on each lap.

Grey running day - 7 degrees

Grey running day - 7 degrees

This is what we did:

  • Set of eight hills
  • Kettlebell lifts – two feet on the ground, one foot on the ground, each side x15 (repeat)
  • Set of eight hills
  • Kettlebell lifts – two feet on the ground with squat combo (nice), one foot on the ground, each side x15 (repeat)
  • Set of two hills with running and 100m at pace in between x 2
  • Lunges x 3 each leg, then a set, of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (ouch!)
  • Set of eight hills

Most of the time Adam was running along beside me shouting ‘lift those knees, pump those arms, in time Deana, IN TIME.’ Clearly I was flailing around like a drowning woman at that point, but taking little steps, lifting your knees and driving through does power you up hills with less effort. Pumping your arms in time just powers more effort into your stride.

This bit isn’t the toughest for me, even when my legs are like jelly I know they’ll get me up. My bete noir, the thing about running that makes me panic – not being able to breathe. But you know, today I turned a corner. On the last set, when I should have been on my knees, somehow I was doing it – without wheezing. First hill – long steady climb, no wheeze. Second hill, short but steep, no wheeze. Third hill – fine, fourth hill – high, steep and seemingly endless – wheeze just started to kick in on the summit but i recovered on the way down and was ready to go back up. Suddenly ‘Can I?’ became ‘I can’.

And on the way back I was thinking about my blogging chums as I powered up the last hill and ran down the other side wheezing but happy in my wheezing? Happy in my wheezing? Have I turned a corner into my Spring?

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring


Up hill, down with recovery

I ran into Adam today. Not literally.

Within minutes we were talking about training. You’ve got to admire his enthusiasm for his subject, he loves it.

Apparently on Sunday I’m going to be doing hills (which I knew) with less recovery (which I didn’t).

That’s designed to up my stamina, my wheezing threshold and no doubt test my capacity to keep my breakfast down. I’m really good at that now. If not vomiting after 5k of tempo pace were an Olympic sport I’d be hanging with Paula Radcliffe.

But the job in hand, in reality, is an hour of pushing it – up hills. Of course I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Willpower wins

So after an earlier wobble about going out at all, further exasperated by my sneaking back into bed in full running gear for a cuddle with Mr M, I finally set off about 8.30am.

The grey skies were blown away, the rain had stopped and apart from a howling gale it was all very pleasant.

I ran up to Didsbury, down to the water meadows and then looped about a bit before heading home. People out were all smiles and it was all very edifying.

I noticed, again, that around the second-third mile mark I slow down and everything gets a bit sticky, like running through treacle, and then`i somehow pick up again. Whipping along – for a while.

As I turned for home I thought about how far I’ve come since September. I’ve moved from running three miles to six, my times have improved and somehow Harry has trained me to attack hills – I think my subconscious is working on the theory that the faster you’re up them the faster the pain stops.

So I got home, having completed a five-mile run in 59.43 seconds – under an hour is an achievement, even if it is just under. Running faster.

But I do fancy a nap now though. It is quite exhausting being athletic. Recovery is important after all. Now where’s the chocolate milk?



Good day sunshine

Beautiful day today, too beautiful to waste.

With Mr M over in Liverpool watching his beloved Everton (finger still crossed for the Toffees) I was left to my own devices. A run; too tempting when the sun is shining and I can wear my iShuffle for a canter around the trails for a bit.

I kind of got a bit carried away – four miles out across country park lanes, watching leaves fluttering to the ground, squirrels rush about and other people out enjoying the late autumn sunshine with tribes of kids and careering dogs.

View from a hill

View from a hill

I was having too much fun. I ran down the river and through Sale water park before thinking, ‘best head home’. And then three miles jog, walking back thinking mostly ‘blimey, hill training tomorrow, maybe I shouldn’t have come so far’.

I had a play on the hills I’ll be running intervals up tomorrow, leaning in, running on my toes and pumping my arms furiously – and then having to stop to recover my breath.

And then I jog-walked through the copses, out of the park and marched along the road home. Not exactly a training run but a lot of fun.

Hill starts full throttle

Ok, what is it about running up hills I like?

Could it be the almost immediate fast, pumping heart beat, the bouncing up on your toes while lifting your knees as hard as you can, or the fact the top of your thighs and your bum muscles are screaming ‘for the love of god, what are you doing?’ as you focus on the hill brow and push on – and on?

Sounds like a recipe for Fresh Hell al Feugo but somehow it’s fun – even in the rain of a mizzly Manchester Autumn day.

Today is Harry Day so we meet up near the hills by opposite Cholton Water Park. There are three in a row of varying heights and gradients. Put there, no doubt, for sad people like me.

Oh and we took Mr Medicine Ball with us for fun so in between runs I’m doing sets of lunges and squats with the medicine ball (it has handles in it – 4kg).

1. Jog down hill – run hell for leather up hill x 3

2. Medicine ball on floor – hold handles and get into press up position. Left one knee to the ball, then the other. Repeat x10 each knee

3. Jog down next hill, run up following slope and down the hill after that. Then run back.

4. Do squats, holding medicine ball just in front of chest.

5. Repeat 3.

6. Do lunges. As you lunge right down swing medicine ball to your left and then to your right, twisting at the waist – that’s a balance tester! Repeat x10 each leg.

7. Run down the hill in 1 and then down to the sequence in 3. In effect running up one long hill, along and then down, up and down two short hills.

Then run back to the top of brow of hill one, where the medicine ball is.

Harry’s always complimenting me on my acceleration to the top of hills. This is my desperation to get there as fast as possible.

8. Press up position again but this time lifting leg out to the side, bit like a frog doing a  kick. Repeat x 10 each side.

9. Repeat 7.

10. Hold medicine ball with left hand and dip into a lunge with left leg forward, though not too deep. Lift medicine ball up in an arc over your head, collect handle with right hand and complete arc, swinging down to right and standup. Swap legs and repeat.

Final hill run. Start at the bottom of hill run, get to the top, feel your bum on fire, jog on, down the next hill and feel your muscles wobble all over the place. Then up, then down, then find yourself running as hard as your legs will take you up hill yet again while someone in the blurry distance of exhaustion, but is actually on your left, shouts ‘awesome’ at you.

Try not to repeat vomiting episode from a couple of Sundays ago.

Cool down jog while Harry tells you all about muscle fatigue and something about your neurotransmitters not firing so well because they are tired too, but contrary to what you think you can run down hill, so don’t worry.

And all that took just an hour. I’m still a bit all over the place, thinking about yesterday’s news and Theresa’s kidney cancer, but running this morning did give me a complete break from thinking about her illness and this general feeling of sorrow.

This was my first hill running session and I really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s the mood I’m in that makes it ideal today, but I’m hopping it’s going to be as much fun in the future.