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Fantastic hills and how to beat them

In October, I’m running the Snowdon marathon.  It’s quite hilly, or so I’ve heard.  I’m now into week 3 of the best way to train for a marathon – the Hanson Marathon Method. For those of you not in the know, Hansons is the greatest marathon plan on earth and made me run my 3 hours 30 goal at London in 2014.  You run 6 times a week, but your maximum distance over the training period is 16 miles.  There is one interval – speed – session a week, and one tempo paced session a week.  It’s a big mileage plan, but if you do it, you’ll actually like training for a marathon and become a better runner for following it.  Obviously these are just my personal opinions. But they’re right. Obviously. Anyway, to Snowdon.

Snowdon is going to be a right old challenge for me.   The marathons that I’ve done have all been flat, fast, ‘PB potential’ marathons with underpasses tending to be the biggest climbs to cope with.  In the past, I’ve shied away from hills, and been known to divert running routes to run around the bottom of hills.  This time has to be different though – I can’t run around the bottom and I ought to do some specific training… so I have!  Over the past three weeks I’ve been incorporating hills into most of my runs, which started off as no fun at all, but are slowly getting better.  I’m lucky enough to work right next to the South Downs, and am also allowed a proper lunchbreak.  These two factors mean that I really have no excuse not to practice running up and down and up and down.

Here are my top tips for hilly running, I hope they help!

  • Breathe! Even if you think you sound like a wheezing cat, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as much as you can. Feel confident that your lungs will continue to work, even when they feel like they’re going to explode.  You need a lot of oxygen to keep your legs working, so keep pulling it in!
  • Use your arms. Arms are good things and your friends when trying to get up a hill.  I pretend that they’re pulling on a parallel rope alongside me and pulling me up that hill, helping my legs out.
  • Embrace the buuuuuuurn. It is no secret that running up hills makes your legs really hurt – all over.  It’s OK though – enjoy it! Think how strong they’re becoming in the process of doing this hill. Strength, strength, strength, power, power, power!
  • Stay upright. We all have a tendency to collapse into ourselves when we’re running up hills due to tiredness, more than anything. In staying upright, you’re able to use your arms, stay more positive, and see the top of the climb – just focus on it getting closer and closer and closer… because it is!
  • Stay positive! Keeping mentally strong is half the battle up the hill, won. You can do, so keep telling yourself you can.  Even if it mean slowing to a shuffle, keep moving and keep believing you’ll get there.
  • Don’t stop. Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving.  Chant that in your head. It’ll be heaps harder to start again if you do stop and then even longer to get to the top.
  • It MUST come down. It just must – remember that, and it’ll feel wonderful. Truly wonderful.

So I’ll keep running up and down the Downs, and you should too.  It’ll benefit your overall running lots of times over, I promise.  I’m slowly feeling more confident about actually managing to get through Snowdon – although I might never run a hill again once I’m done!

  • Disclaimer: Although I believe Hansons is the best plan in the world, ever, it might not be for you.
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