November 26, 2014

Training for a hilly race

I was SO busy yesterday; by the time I sat down to start writing a blog post, it was already after 9:00, so I just decided not to write. While the kids were in school, I spent literally the entire time deep-cleaning both bathrooms. My least favorite chore is scrubbing the shower and bath tubs because it takes so long. But the bathrooms are now super clean. I'm going to try and deep-clean all the rooms of the house over the next week or two.

After the kids got home from school, we went to my parents' house for dinner. Also there were: my older brother, Brian; his wife, Becky; Becky's parents, visiting from Minneosta; my younger brother, Nathan; two of my uncles and one aunt; and Jerry. None of it was even planned until yesterday morning, but it was fun.

My glutes were really sore yesterday from my hill workout on Monday. The Shamrock Run that I'm doing in Portland is SUPER hilly, even by the standards of people that regularly run hills. Thomas has mentioned it enough times that it was starting to scare me, and make me wonder why I signed up for the race. I don't have any hills to train on here, and even doing intervals on an expressway overpass isn't enough to prepare me for the race.

So on Monday morning, I looked up the elevation profile of the race, and decided to calculate the hill grade percentages to come up with a hill workout that will hopefully help me train. There were six major hills that I could see in the chart:

Some of them are short and steep, but also, the first 5 miles are basically uphill. So using the feet climbed and the distance in miles, I plugged the numbers into this calculator that then gives the grade percentages. Here is what it came up with:

Hill #1: Mile 2.13 to 3.91 climbs 382 feet
Hill #2: Mile 4.18 to 4.31 climbs 85 feet
Hill #3: Mile 4.54 to 4.71 climbs 139 feet
Hill #4: Mile 4.98 to 5.60 climbs 167 feet
Hill #5: Mile 5.74 to 5.87 climbs 62 feet
Hill #6: Mile 6.67 to 6.94 climbs 47 feet

And translated into grade percentages, this was my treadmill workout:

My treadmill only goes up to 12%, so I couldn't even get it high enough for the third hill--that's very steep! Surprisingly, I did okay for the first hill. I set the speed pretty slow (5.5 mph, a 10:54 pace). I certainly felt like I was going uphill, but it wasn't terrible. I started thinking how I was going to tell Thomas that this was a piece of cake. After each hill, I took a 2-minute rest (I don't like to lower the incline to 0% between hills for a recovery jog, because it takes too long to lower it and then increase it again, so it's simpler to just hop off the treadmill and take a short rest).

The second hill was no joke. I kept the speed where it was, but at 12% incline, I was counting down the distance until I could hop off. During the third hill, I was cursing Thomas, and it was all I could do to finish that short 0.17-mile segment. Normally, 5% incline is tough, but after doing that third hill, the fourth one felt easy. And then the sixth hill, at 3.3%, didn't even feel like a hill at all at that point.

Overall, it was a tough workout, and I'm definitely going to repeat it several times before March. In looking at the elevation profile again, I think I'm going to break the first hill into two separate ones, because it starts out as a long, gradual incline and then sharply goes up toward the end. By splitting it up, it looks like this:

Hill #1: 1.47 miles at a 2.2% grade immediately followed by 0.31 miles at 13% grade. I'd say that's a pretty significant hill!

A lot of newer treadmills now have the ability to automatically adjust incline based on a certain course. You can map out a course on Google Maps and then when you run it, the incline adjusts to what it would actually feel like. That would be really convenient to train for a race like Shamrock, because I just don't have the hills around here to mock that course. My treadmill is getting old, and it's starting to sound kind of rickety. I think I'm going to start saving up for a new one, and maybe by summertime I'll get one (I use the treadmill in the summer quite a bit because the kids are home from school).

I had been planning on rotating a hill workout with tempo runs and intervals, so I'd only be doing it every third week; but I think I may rearrange my running schedule to fit in two of the harder workouts per week, so that I can do the hill workout every week. Because my legs (and butt) were sore from this workout, I can feel that it's definitely using different muscles--always a good thing!

Jessica called me yesterday after reading my blog post about my goal for the Turkey Trot. She's done the race for the past several years, and said that it's definitely not a race to have a time goal for. It's extremely crowded, especially during the 5K, and she said there is just no way to get around people. I told her I was worried about getting to the 5K starting line on time after running the 10K, and she said that it's not even an issue. She ran the 10K in 1:00:xx last year, and then walked a half mile to the 5K, but there were still tons of people starting the 5K at that time. She basically said it's a big cluster, but a lot of fun.

So, that made me feel relieved that I don't have to worry about getting to the 5K starting line by 8:30 (the 10K starts at 7:30). I'm still going to try and aim for an 8:50 pace, but I'm also not going to get bent out of shape if it's just not happening, either. Nathan, Brian, and Becky are going to run the Drumstick Double, too, and Kendall (Nathan's girlfriend) is running the 5K as her first race! We are going to be heading up to Detroit at around 5:30 tomorrow, so it'll be an early start to the day--but it should be fun. Then later, we're going to my parents' house for turkey dinner.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


  1. Hi Katie. I pinned this the other day and immediately thought of you and how you've been struggling with food lately. I found it a real eye opener. I'm in the over 30% category but it was almost a relief for me to see how little I needed to do to get in the next category. Perhaps it will remind you of just how much work you put in day to day to get into your previous peak fitness and you won't feel so hard on yourself. xxx

    1. Wow, that's really interesting! Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to get back down to 19% ;)

  2. Good workout on the hills chicka! You will def rock that race if you train with that plan again and again. Have fun today and happy Thanksgiving!

  3. (If this is a duplicate, I apologize!) I was wondering if you have a certain treadmill or brand of treadmills that you have your eye on? I'm interested in purchasing one in the near future. I currently either run outside or use my elliptical. Thanks!

    1. When I was at the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem, I saw a presentation about the Nordic Track treadmills, and seeing those REALLY made me want one! I have my eye on the Commercial 2950.

    2. Thanks Katie! I was wondering about the Nordic Track brand. I will be looking into these. Thanks again! :)

    3. I have a Proform treadmill that is iFit enabled. It uses Google map technology and displays the visual of where you're running. You can use their maps or you can create your own and upload it. They have a really large price range/features. I tried pretty much every brand on the market before picking this one! You can access your data from your phone on the iFit app, too. Okay, commercial over. But it sure was fun doing your virtual 5K in Italy. :-)

  4. I found out this year that the elevation chart you used (from the official website I believe) is not accurate in that there are really no downhills during the climb like it shows on that chart. The uphills you were practicing certainly exist though. Good workout!


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