Apparently, we don't have enough crazy hills to run in our FAST group runs. Or so our coaches have determined. Personally, I was fine with the Hill of Death and the Hill of Doom - they were more than enough to meet all my hill-running needs. But the coaches decided that we have greater hill-running needs than we thought. Who knew?
So after our typical one-mile warm-up into the cemetery, we did some useful yet silly-looking form drills, which Coach Brad so nicely captured on video, so that we can all be humiliated on YouTube. The idea behind the video is to be able to see ourselves and make form adjustments to improve our efficiency, speed and power. Fair enough, but I really wish they would've warned us about the video, so I could have worn a nicer running outfit. Or maybe my tutu...
After that rather exhausting round of high-knees, zombie walks and walking lunges, we were informed by the coaches that the workout wasn't over. Indeed, it was just beginning. They had marked off an 800m stretch of cemetery road, and we were going to run 4 x 800m repeats at 5k pace, going back and forth on this 800m stretch of road. That doesn't sound too bad in theory. But smack-dab in the middle of this stretch of road was what shall heretofore be known as the Hill Of Devastation. It's short, but very, very steep. So in the first 800m, we would be running UP the Hill Of Devastation, and in the second 800m, we would be running DOWN the Hill Of Devastation. Rinse, repeat.
Oh that's not so bad, you say. You get to go downhill for the 2nd and 4th repeats - that's EASY!
HA. HAHAHAHAHAHA. NO.
While the downhill segments were marginally friendlier than the uphill segments, they were by no means easy. Running down the Hill Of Devastation is actually quite scary. Maybe it's because I'm just not comfortable with running that fast. Maybe it's because my brain is telling my legs to slow down, but they can't because of gravity's pull. Maybe it's because I'm running in a cemetery and that just seems a little too convenient during a workout like this.
The natural tendency while running downhill is to lean backward to to try to slow oneself by resisting gravity. The coaches tell us this is counterproductive, wastes energy, and can really tear up a person's quads. They're right, of course. It's always best to try to use downhills to gain a speed advantage with minimal additional effort. The best way to do this is to lean slightly forward and let gravity work its magic, rather than trying to resist. This results in the intense feeling that you will, at any moment, topple forward, curl into a ball, and roll down the hill at breakneck speed.
Fortunately, nobody rolled down the hill last night. It was a very tough workout, but we all survived. Here's the workout data... I'm sure you can find the Hill Of Devastation in the green graph. The 800m repeats are easy to identify from the heart rate graph (red) - just look for the four humps in the middle (and laps 4, 6, 8, and 10 in the lap listing).
I didn't stop my watch between repeats, so I could see how quickly my heart rate recovered. We had about 3 minutes of rest between each 800m segment. That sounds like a lot, but we needed every second of it. Well, maybe not Louisa, who was singing during the repeats, and dancing during the rest periods. I swear I'm not making that up. I have witnesses! Coach Brad doesn't like it when we smile during workouts. He says we must not be working hard enough if we're smiling (although I wonder if he just can't tell the difference between a smile and a grimace of pain). When he sees any of us smiling, he vows to make us work harder next time. I can only imagine what he'll do now that singing and dancing has occurred during a workout. This cannot be good. Not good at all...
I guess I should start thinking of names for the crazy hills that are sure to come...
Peace. Love. Train.