After a marathon (like the most recent Route 66 Marathon), I sink into down time. Both mentally and physically, I allow myself to recover from the rigors of marathon training. I linger a bit longer in bed on the weekends, catch up on house projects and give my kids/hubby some needed attention. I run whenever I feel like it, however far (or short) I want, at whatever pace feels right at the moment. I call it 'no pressure' running. I may even go days without running. Typically, I pump up my cross-training to stay active and loose... Spinning is XT weapon of choice. Eventually (3-4 weeks post-marathon), I get called back to running. Not sure how to even explain it, but inside I have a yearning to not only run, but start training again. Recovery period over.
Jumping back into a rigorous training cycle too quickly can cause injury though. So I enter into what I call base training. Slowly, I bring my weekly mileage up. However, this is not the time to crank speed or be concerned about my pace. Ideally, this the best time of the year to just run... naked. No watch, no music, just run and listen to my body's feedback.
Base training is also a great time to work on strength training, something I don't do nearly enough. Let me be completely honest... I hate strength training. I am not a gym rat. So you can keep the weight room, the CrossFit box, and the fitness classes where they lift weights over and over for an hour. I'm sweating, yes, but utterly bored. I'm a girl who likes to get a bang for her buck... and I don't feel like I am without constantly moving. Plus I generally just prefer my fitness outdoors.
I'm using HILLS as my strength training.
Running uphill is a form of resistance training that directly targets the 'runner' muscles... quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Your upper body also gets a workout since you pump your arms more when you go uphill versus a flat road. Hills transform your normal run into a strength training workout. Since pace is not a concern during base training, it's the perfect time to tackle hills! In short, the best way to improve running-specific strength is to run hills. And the only strength I'm really concerned about is the kind that is going to help me PR in Eugene next April.
Many of the locals like Springdale Cemetery, but my favorite for hill training is Bradley Park. I love the beautiful setting and the challenging hills. I've been there 3x this past week.
|Get up that hill... or stop halfway to take a picture.|
|This path knocks me on my a$$ every time.|
Coming off the Route 66 Marathon, I felt a little defeated from the hills in the backhalf. So I came home and registered for the Georgia Half and the Little Rock Marathon, neither of which are classified as "flat". Almost like I enjoy torture... or a challenge. Whichever, I'm determined to be better prepared for elevation in 2013. And when it comes time to start working on speed for Eugene, my muscles will be strong and ready for it.
Be Strong... Go Run a HILL!
In fact, join in the Jingle Bell Hell virtual run this week.
If you're local in Peoria, join the Sole Sisters this Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:00am
for our own version of Jingle Bell Hell through Springdale Cemetery!