When The Road Is Flat, Find A Hill
This is a post I originally wrote for the FCR blog on December 30, 2016. These are my thoughts on running and the new year. Click here to read the original.
One of my favorite things to do in any place I visit or live is to go for a run and get to know the sights, sounds, and smells. Since moving to Eugene, Oregon several months ago, I’ve rarely run the same route twice— all in the name of getting to know my new city.
While the weather and conditions have been amazing for running, there’s one thing I’ve noticed. We plopped ourselves down in the flattest part of town and any semblance of a hill is several miles away. Having come from a neighborhood in California that is all but flat, this has been a change.
Assuming everyone who reads this post doesn’t share my affinity for running, here are a few things you should know about running hills:
- Running hills can be slow and painful but it strengthens your leg muscles and trains them to recover faster the next time you run hills.
- Running uphill, flat, or downhill places emphasis on different leg muscles. A variety of terrains is best and prevents overuse and wear on a particular set of muscles.
- According to marathoner and olympian Jeff Galloway, “Doing a few hills..will strengthen the legs for running better than any exercise or equipment.”
As an added bonus, I’ve been battling tendinitis in my right knee far more than normal. Last week I headed back to California to be with family and got a few hilly runs in and lo and behold, my knee actually feels better.
I think there’s a lesson to be learned here as we begin a new year. This is starting to sound a lot like New Year’s resolution talk to me— but let me add a little spin to it. Like a hill is to a runner, a resolution should be something that challenges, adds variety, and makes us stronger.
Thinking in those terms, a few things that might appear on my list of resolutions this year include:
- Reading more, but not the usual stuff. I’m picking new topics to read about that challenge me to think, learn, and dream.
- Running more actual hills focused on using the resistance to become stronger.
- Taking guitar lessons to learn classical, jazz, or lead guitar rather than playing the same ole acoustic stuff.
What hills are you going to scale in 2016?
One last thing about hills. Running the same, flat terrain day in and day out is boring. [Insert your commentary about how running is boring anyway. I can take it.] In the same way, reading about the same topics or listening to the same kind of music repeatedly can get boring. As we ring in the new year, let’s introduce some hills into the routine and ring in learning and growth.
Happy New Year!