Still Running Long

running until i can't


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Sunday Long: Only One Hill

The Mount Washington Road Race is on my running bucket list. There’s a lottery to get in, and between that, job commitments, and various injuries, I’ve never had the chance to run it. I’ve always loved running up hills, and this a 7.6 mile race that rises 4650 feet to the summit of Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in New England.

The coolest part of the race might be their slogan: Only One Hill. I really hope I can proudly wear one of those t-shirts some day. Sometimes I take a run that has only one large hill, and think about that race.

This Sunday’s long run was like that. It had essentially only one hill. It also had just about the only stretch of flat we have around here, but I woke up thinking about the hill. It doesn’t come close to Mt. Washington, but it will do the job for a typical Sunday, rising 328 feet and topping out at about 10% grade, and coming at about mile 7 of the ten mile loop I had laid out.

Screenshot 2014-10-06 19.23.51

Only One

Ever since I started doing a lot of low heart rate training, hills have lost some of their excitement for me. I used to revel in the chance to power up a set of hills on a hot summer afternoon, drenched in sweat. Hills were often my friends in races, seeming to give me a second wind as others grew tired.

But in trying to keep my heart rate below 139, they’ve mostly turned into a slow shuffle. They’re getting faster as I work on high cadence heading upwards, but it still feels a little bit like one of those dreams where you’re trying to run fast and can’t.

So on Sunday, I decided to stop just before the base and turn off the alert on my heart rate monitor. I hit the base and my heart rate popped by fifteen or twenty right off the bat. After initially falling back into an old rhythm of reaching too far with each step to get up the hill, I set my cadence back around 180 and kept going. Just based on feel.

And it felt great.

As much as letting go of caution and running more often this summer and fall has me feeling great, I am quite certain that running more slowly and easily along with that has also been key. But this means listening to my heart rate monitor and, yes, shuffling up some hills. To spend that one mile just pushing was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

In a way, it was too bad that it was only one hill.


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Happy Birthday. Run Slow.

Last Sunday was my birthday. Forty-two years old. That makes forty-one years of running. To celebrate, I ran a nice, slow twelve miles.

Truth be told, it didn’t feel as “nice” as I would have liked. If I were really celebrating, I would have gone faster.

But I’m committed to going slower most of the time so that I can stay healthy. And so I can eventually go faster – a seeming contradiction that kept me from running slowly the last twenty years. Continue reading