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Portchester Lane is a narrow road that runs down the north side of Portsdown Hill and it has a hidden secret, it’s steep …. damn steep, maybe not in a Lake District context but the half mile I like to use climbs 220 feet and is perfect for when I don’t have too much time to train and want a quality run instead of quantity. Granted you have to keep an eye out for traffic but it’s fairly quiet on a Sunday morning.
The lingering fog meant I couldn’t enjoy the usual panoramic views but with the imminent festive season ahead and the demands on your time this makes, I simply wanted 3/4 of an hour of hills.
The experts will tell you that running hills will improve your leg muscle strength and endurance. Many runners use the gym to strengthen their legs and I guess that works for them but given the opportunity to be out in the fresh air I know where I’d rather be. Running a hill will work your hips, legs, ankles and feet “all” at the same time and give you more power, as well as “hill confidence”, which is priceless.
Shortening your stride can be compared to changing down gear in your car and once you’ve settled into a steady rhythmic stride this ought to mean even breathing and a steady ascent with some energy left at the top. The second point I try and concentrate on is keeping up a reasonable pace when running back downhill because on race day that’s what you’ll be doing so it’s worth practising.
I realise the last two paragraphs will be no surprise to the majority of runners but I often hear people talking negatively about hills and yet with only a small amount of practise you can gain “hill confidence” and once you have it, you have it for ever 🙂
A cyclist and myself swopped mutual encouragement a couple of times as he was riding laps or the area and I was running my 5 reps, so inclines work for cyclists too !!
Hills are in many ways a metaphor of life, they can be seen as challenging and literally “an uphill struggle” but when approached with effort and determination in equal measures it’s surprising what you can achieve. Today it was 5 miles and 1,100 feet elevation for me.
Don’t let hills get the better of you, get hill confidence …. available in most parts of the country and totally free 🙂