The elevation profile above is the workout I did on Thursday, April 28, 2011. Freshman year, Coach Gardner introduced me and the rest of the cross country team at UMass Lowell to the infamous "Christian Street Hill" in Lowell,Mass. Many of you have probably noticed the name from my weekly training logs. When I first did the hill, I only ran it halfway because it was absolutely painful (especially for a freshman). The hill is 222ft up covered in just half a mile to the top. When I was getting ready for my New Bedford Half Marathon, I was able to do the full hill 8 times, which was probably one of my best workouts at the time. I run about 3 miles from the gym to the hill, go up and down the hill several times and then back the same 3 miles to where I started. This has become one of my favorite staple workouts during base phase. The entire run is all continuous which makes it even better. There has always been a saying that runners don't really need to do a whole lot of track workouts to get fast and I'm a big believer of that. Every successful season I've had since going to college has always started with Christian Hill. These are the 3 areas (in my opinion) the hill benefits me the most:
Cardio: hills put the body in serious oxygen debt. The heart and lungs have to work very hard to deliver oxygen. You can literally feel the blood rushing through your body when doing hills.
Muscular: hills are like weightlifting for the legs. Climbing up OR rolling down both work to strengthen the major muscles (quads, hamstrings and calves) to help delay muscle fatigue in races
Form: hills require RHYTHM. When going up the hill you are naturally required to use good form AND eliminate any wasted motion. When you can do this for so long, it becomes natural during races. Any motion in races that is not helping you get from point A to point B faster, should in fact be eliminated and doing hills is a good way of practicing it.