QUESTION: I am currently training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May: Hilly! Hilly! Hilly! My training is in Myrtle Beach: Flat! Flat! Flat! How can I incorporate hill training into my training? And on which days should I do it? On the short-run days, or on the long-run days?
HAL’S ANSWER: I was at the Pittsburgh Marathon a few year ago and don't remember it being that hilly. Of course, I once set the masters ascent record for the Pike’s Peak Marathon, so my perspective may be somewhat different than someone living in Myrtle Beach. Nevertheless, I feel runners psych themselves out when anyone mentions hills. Consider that hills bring flavor to any marathon course, sort of like salsa to your tacos. Certainly, you must have some bridges or ramps or even bumps in the road that could masquerade as hills. Treadmills can be adjusted to simulate running uphill, and even downhill. As to when to run hills? Any day of the week to suit your convenience. Start with the easy days, but eventually do some of your longer runs on hilly courses. Sometimes you need to look around to find hills and maybe jump in a car for an hour’s drive somewhere, but hills exist even in the flattest states. In Jacksonville, Florida where we spend the winter, the local runners do loops featuring several bridges in preparing for the Gate River Run.
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