On the Run: Miles & Treadmills & Hill Repeats, Oh My!

This week, I’ve been following a new training plan provided by the amazing Kelly Roberts of She Can & She Did and Run, Selfie, Repeat.

I never, ever thought I’d be the kind of person to break outside my normal routine of “try to survive running a few miles” but here I am adding speed work and hill repeats. When i saw those two words “hill repeats” on my schedule for Thursday, I strongly considered setting the whole thing aside.

Thursday was not a day built perfectly for a new kind of running workout. The First Year Writing class I teach starts at 8:30am, and I had plans to stay over at my boyfriend’s place, which meant extra commute time. Not only that, but the forecast was 30 degrees and snowy. As a naturally clumsy person, I avoid running outside with even a hint of ice because I’m convinced I’ll hurt myself, majorly. Running up and down a hill? Not a chance.

I tried talking myself out of it. Amanda, you’d have to get up so so early to fit in this run. Amanda, it’ll be too dark and icy for you to run outside. Amanda, you’re volunteering for a late night event at work and you’re going to be so tired.

But the thing is, you can set an incline on a treadmill. The Planet Fitness I go to for days I can’t run outside is literally on the way home from Andy’s house to my apartment. I had already packed a bag with my running gear.

So, even when The Last Jedi turned out to be longer than I thought and we were up late, I set my alarm for 4:30am. I got up, had my breakfast and drank some water, dressed in my running gear, and drove to the gym.

I once saw someone get scolded for running on the treadmill at too steep an incline, so naturally my social anxiety had a lot of feelings about the intention of setting it higher than 1.0 for my hill repeats. Nevertheless, I climbed on, did my warm up, and spiked it up to 6.0 for my intervals. (I know that’s not the steepest, but like I said, I was terrified of being yelled at).

I’ve always been terrified of running at an incline. Even the smallest of hills causes me to, as my boyfriend puts it, downshift. I struggle to breathe and often have to stop to walk. So, needless to say, I expected the workout to be a slog. To my surprise, though, I was able to run strong with only a short walk break after each incline.

I felt so powerful, energized, and proud of myself afterwards. It’s making me realize I need to break past my pre-determined, pre-defined limits, something that all the self-help content I’m obsessed with is constantly telling me. That’s part of why I love running-it’s this concrete, measurable way to see and learn the benefits of stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things. If I can survive hill repeats then maybe, just maybe, I can do other hard, scary things, too.

Pretty soon it’ll be New Year’s and folks will be setting intentions/resolutions/goals. I usually spend this time thinking about what I want to do in the new year. 2019 has thoroughly and utterly kicked my ass, so I’m looking forward to that feeling of “reset” as we move into a new year and new decade.

My running goals are clear: train for & run the Flying Pig Half Marathon. The rest, not so much… but I’m looking forward to reflecting and writing about what I’m hoping for in the next year (and decade, maybe?!). I know this for sure: I’m planning to bring that borrowed mantra of “I can do hard things” that i use while running into other aspects of my life.

Until next time, my friends. May you believe in your ability to do hard things and step outside of your comfort zone.

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