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.

Sunday, day of rest… for some

What were you up to at 7.30 this morning. No, don’t tell me, let’s just pretend you were sleeping.

Me? Meeting Harry for our weekly one-hour sessions at the local park in south Manchester. I’m on the third one now, so I’ve learned to be apprehensive about what he pulls out of his car boot.

Medicine balls, kettle bells, dumb bells, big blue balls you lie on. Oh, I’m familiar with them all.

This week, nothing. This week we’re using a picnic table. No hamper, either. Straight down to business.

Exercise 1 –┬ástep up onto the bench seat with the right foot and then down, leading with the left. x 10. Repeat stepping up with the left.

Exercise 2 – step up onto the bench seat, just pushing with one leg and put the left leg straight back down. Repeat x15 times on each leg. This one is murder on the top of the thigh. Trust me.

Exercise 3 – press ups. So it’s hands onto the bench seat, out on plank position and press ups x15. Don’t go too low, you’ll never get back up.

Exercise 4 – dip things. Face away from the bench seat, bob down, hands on bench and do 20 dips. I can do these, I don’t know why. Harry pushes me to the point I’m keeling over on everything else.

Repeat the whole set again.

Sound exhausing? It is, but it’s all about strengthening muscles to give you more power when you run. The more strength on your arms, legs, core etc the easier you’ll find asking your body to do more.

Next – find a 20m length of grass.

Exercise 5 – side steps. Like sideways skipping but when you get to the end you do 5 squats and skip sideways back and repeat.

Exercise 6 – walking lunges. Walk the 20m length but lunge on each step Don’t go too low and do keep your back straight. This is something to do with your pelvis but I was on the verge of collapse here so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Straight back, not too low. There and back x2. There will be Jane Fonda-style ‘feeling the burn’.

Then repeat exercises 5 and 6.

This little playground of torture has taken 40 minutes. We now go for a run round where Harry keeps making sure I’m alive by chatting to me while I manage short sentences followed by a wheeze. This is pretty close to tempo running for a woman whose legs are mostly made of jelly now.

He then sets off in his car to go do something else athletic while I stagger home and lie in the bath. A small comfort, he was sweating after running for 20 minutes with me.