Friday, February 21, 2014

Vertically Challenged

Hills are hard. They hurt and they NEVER seem to get any easier. I always feel slow running up, and most of the time you are slow. It feels more like a tricky exercise in breathing normally and dragging your heavy legs towards the summit.

I've haven't really read anything that specifically says 'run hills, it will make you faster and stronger' but something inside my subconscious tells me to run them. Every day. All year. Most of the time I hate it. I don't get into a rhythm, I just slog it out til I get to the top, and then try and enjoy the downs, which actually don't feel much fun for some reason. BUT I still do them. Every day. At least 300m vertical, which is child's play to Sandes, Olson, Krar etc but for an Oregon runner quite a lot apparently. It always feels a good workout and seems to compensate for a lack of speed work and any other advanced training methods.

In races, at least those without massive elevation gains all those vertical meters start to come into play. Again, although it doesn't feel like it I find I make time and position on hills over other runners, and can also keep a good pace when on flatter sections.

It's been a year since I started the 300m a day trial, and bar an injury and a visit to my folks in flat Norfolk, England I've been around and about 10,000m a month vertical. It hasn't creep any higher as being a car-less downtown Portland dweller the highest runnable point from my house is, guess? 300m! Either Council Crest or Pittock Mansion.

Given the improvement on relatively small hills, I think it's time to step up and start trying longer tougher climbs to really make some impression. It will mean visits to the Gorge, Mt Hood etc, zipcars and group runs, but it's about time after 14 months here.

One of the views from top of Larch Mountain
Larch Mountain is the gnarliest, toughest climb I've found here, and now the days are getting longer that will start to become my fitness tester. It's a straight climb up past Multnomah Falls to a spectacular 360 degree viewpoint. It was 1 hour 45 minutes up and 55 minutes down the one and only time I attempted it, which tells the story. I'm sure it's those climbs that will help get me a bit closer to the speedgoats in time....

Larch Mountain 'run' more of a power hike up


  1. Yes Hills are hard, but one on the reasons I seem to make hills easy is because I like running slowly....

    While your size and weight have a play in your hill climbing... (I'm not saying you are fat) I think it's more style!!! you don't have a natural knee lift and a good strong arm movement, 2 rthings which help with hill climbing...

    That said I would say you could be running more hills than me!!!

    Do like that climb, almost 2000m, I would have turned back to get those extra couple of meters...

    1. Thanks Coach. If i'd known the meters climbed i wolud have done :)

  2. I'm not sure that I understand your comment about Oregonians not running hills. As you saw on Saturday, Larch is fairly mild as far as Gorge hills go, and most Oregonian trail ultra runners I know do a lot of Gorge "running".