Hills are my superpower, but not by choice. I used to avoid hills, sometimes going an extra mile out of my way in order to maintain the flat, easier route. A few years ago, my husband and I bought our home in Leelanau County. Our property is at the bottom of a “bowl.” If I start my run from home, no matter which way I go, my run starts uphill. Additionally, the part of the county we live in is surrounded by hills. That initial hill is just the beginning; all my favorite routes are filled with rolling hills.
As I mentioned, I used to avoid hills. Then when they were no longer avoidable, I used to mosey up them thinking, “it doesn’t matter how fast I go, just get up it.” However, this never proved to help me with hills in races (go figure!) So now my mentality when approaching hills is “the faster I get up it, the faster it’s over.” The change in how I train in hills has drastically impacted my ability to cruise over hills in races (again, go figure). I marvel at how quickly I can get up hills without feeling nearly as winded as I used to feel.
Most of our region is lacking in hills. I lived in Traverse City when I was training for my first marathon, which was in Carlsbad, California. The Carlsbad Marathon is an extremely hilly course. Training for those hills in Grand Traverse County was difficult. I lived in Holiday Hills at that time, so I would run that hilly neighborhood, then run over to Wayne Hill for that climb, and then head back to Holiday Hills. Sometimes I would throw the 3 Mile Road and 5 Mile Road hills in for a change of scenery. But really, those were about the only hills that had significant elevation in the area of Traverse City that I lived in.
Now I’m (usually) grateful to be surrounded by hills. They are making me a better runner. Though one would think with all the uphills I am getting better at, the downhills would become easier for me. Strangely, that is not the case. I still struggle immensely with downhill running. I step too heavily, I get blisters on the bottom of my toes if it is too steep, and I frequently feel like I’m going to fall down if I go too fast. So if you have tips for becoming better at downhill runner, please send them my way. I’d love to add downhill running to my ‘superpower’ list.