Editor’s note: Erin Moeller, 34, of Mount Vernon, is a lifelong runner who qualified for the last two Olympic Marathon Trials. A native of Ryan, she’s a graduate of North-Linn and Wartburg who works for Benchmark Inc. in Cedar Rapids. She has two children — Ryne (7) and Evelyn (3) — with husband Andy.
A good friend of mine once shared one of his training philosophies with me — hills aren’t supposed to be easy. Fascinating. I honestly had never approached hills with this logic.
To me hills were a nuisance along an otherwise enjoyable run, or something that made my heart sink a little when I rounded a bend in a race only to see a hill up ahead.
Hills, like many things in life, pose a challenge for many of us. They’re tough, they hurt, they make you want to quit, but in the end … they make you stronger. With a little practice, focusing on proper technique, having the attitude that you can and will reach the top, patience along the way and perseverance, each one of us can improve. As an added bonus, not only will you improve at running hills, but you’ll also become a stronger runner.
A few things to consider when approaching a hill workout include:
- Grab a running partner, somehow doing hill repeats isn’t quite as grueling when you have company.
- Decide how many hills you’re going to run before you begin the workout. If you decide to play it by ear, it’s more likely you’ll back off and settle for a lesser amount. This technique helps develop discipline in your running as you commit to a particular workout.
- Pace yourself along the way, reach milestones throughout the workout and then have a sense of accomplishment when you’re through.
- Focus on good form. Remember to breathe, drive your arms and legs, keep looking forward and approach the hill with confidence.
- The first one to the top is not the winner. Run smart and keep in mind that “what goes up, must come down.” Unless the finish line is at the top of the hill, chances are there is a lot of racing left after you reach the top. If you focus on properly approaching the uphill portion, chances are you’ll feel confident and ready to go once you reach the top.
- Attitude is everything. After you’ve reached the top of the hill, do a quick attitude check, congratulate yourself for staying strong on the way up, stride out a little and throw in a surge as you pass those runners who likely pushed it too hard as they were focusing on racing to the top.
Keep in mind that your legs may be screaming for mercy as you push up the hills. However, as the race T-shirts so appropriately read for the hilly Heritage Days 5K in Mount Vernon — “It’s a Hill, Get Over it!”
Like other obstacles that may enter our lives, we need to be tough and accept that we’re likely going to hurt along the way. Practice on ways to improve, be patient with ourselves, persevere and keep the attitude that we can and will be a stronger person when we get over our hill.
— Erin Moeller
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