My running coach Alexis has started to incorporate some pretty extreme hills in our running drills once a week. While I've never had much trouble walking up hills, it's an entirely different matter to run up them or to do any of the following while going up: sidesteps, over/under foot drills, buttkicks, skips, and high knees. It doesn't seem like it would be as hard as it is, but it's unbelievably difficult. First, your legs start to burn in key areas like the quads or calves. Then, as the pain intensifies, breathing becomes more difficult. By the time you get to the top, you find yourself practically out of breath and your legs are struggling just to move. Walking back down isn't even easy.
Last week, we ran from RunTex through the trail alongside Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake), up Robert E. Lee (alongside Zilker Park), and turned on a couple of streets until we got to Norris Drive. Just getting there was difficult, as Robert E. Lee is pretty steep. I pushed through and then we arrived at Norris. The hill was pretty brutal, but I worked through the drills. I do think that Alexis gave me a little bit of a break on the last couple of drills and let me do them halfway because I was severely dehydrated and in pain. We found some water at Zilker and ran back. Up until yesterday, this was the most difficult workout I'd had since joining the group.
Yesterday, we ran from RunTex to West 7th Street (at Blanco). The run there wasn't as intense and the hill up 7th didn't look that bad. When we started doing the drills, it quickly became apparent that the hill was worse than the one at Norris Drive. The first third or so is not too bad, but then the incline gets really steep. By the time I would get to the halfway mark during each drill, I'd be breathing heavily and struggling to maintain the exercise. It was so difficult that after finishing my third or fourth drill, I had to sit for a minute because I was a little dizzy. Alexis reminded me that he'd found himself needing to crawl that hill once before. Laura, another group member present for the torture, said she loved the hill because it truly was an equalizer - everyone struggles regardless of fitness level. As much as I struggled, I finished all of my drills, and after a recovery walk I was able to run back to the store.
I have a love/hate relationship with these hills. I hate doing them in the moment, but I love having done them. This is where it's really great to have a coach. There's no way in hell that I would have pushed myself to keep going up those hills. It hurt too much. But because I had a coach who did push me, I did more than I thought I could do and that means more growth. And I think the consequence of surpassing these self-imposed limitations will be that I will learn to push myself more and believe in my power and strength to succeed.
10/4: 60 minutes walking
10/5: TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Days 1&2), Running class (~3 miles) + drills on 7th Street hill