Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hill Running

As a supplement to our workouts at the gym, my brother and I started running around Seattle's Greenlake about 3-4 years ago. It's a nice, scenic run--flat--probably about 2.5 miles or so and was something I really looked forward to doing two or three times a week. After running the lake more than 200 times, it had become a little predictable and not even much of a sweat-breaker. When my gym membership expired a few months ago, I started looking for a workout routine that was more challenging and more interesting.

I knew that some people worked out on a steep series of steps not far from my house (near Golden Gardens Park on Shilshoe Bay). I also knew that while running steps is indeed a great cardiovascular activity, it had never really appealed to me. I thought, however, that if I could combine the steps with some fairly steep, adjacent trails, I could come up with a pretty good workout. I put together a run up and down the bluff (300+' elevation gain) combining a very pretty, but steep, trail with 80 or 90 steep steps at the top. It takes about 10-12 minutes to run up and down, including a couple quick rest stops. Lately, I've been doing three sets. It takes me about one hour of total time from leaving the house to returning.

The results after about three weeks have been outstanding. It doesn't bother my back like the pounding of running around Greenlake sometimes did; it gets my heart rate up far higher for far longer (in the 170bpm range); and it's just a much more interesting and challenging workout, which makes me actually look forward to doing it every day, just like I looked forward to running a few years ago. The best part is that it has proved very transferable to my bicycling, giving me a big endurance lift, especially on hillclimbs.

All things considered, I would recommend a hill climb workout combined with a few steps for just about anyone who's up to an high cardiovascular intensity. Will I get tired of it after a few months? Probably. But by then I'll be back on the bike and it won't matter as much. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

gpb said...

That's a nice picture. I have a vague memory of going down that space on the old Motiv--you leading the way, and me clutching the brakes.

I daresay that all your hill running is damned good for cardiovascular fitness. That's for sure, judging from our last hill climb. I must say that that workout is, to me, pretty close to unimaginable. Walking up those steps was tough for me.