On August 20, the Marine Corps Marathon announced a flatter course with the return of Rock Creek Parkway. I for one am thrilled about the change. It makes the course flatter and hopefully faster, while taking out a tough early hill that was way too easy to go too hard on and pay for later.
The removal of the Canal Road/Georgetown Reservoir section of the course makes it similar to the first time I ran the race in 2006 when I first fell in love with this marathon, and at the same time takes away my least favorite part of my 2011 run there. That’s what I call a win-win!
My February focus is all about getting my speed back, so I’m getting two speed sessions in a week as part of my half marathon training. When I think of speed workouts I immediately think track and tempo workouts, but my Hal Higdon training plan alternates each week between a track workout and a hill workout for the first month and a half. In a sick kind of way I actually enjoy running hills and love that they make me faster and stronger.
Earlier this week I did my first hill workout after a few mile warm up near the Iwo Jima Memorial running the hill next to Arlington Cemetery up to the Netherlands Carillon Bell Tower. My fellow Marine Corps Marathon alumni know this hill as the finish line. I like using this hill for workouts because it reminds me of finishing my marathons there (although that race turns right half way up this hill), and will hopefully give me confidence to charge up it and finish strong when I tackle the marathon there this year. I took on the MCM hill six times before a short cool down and returning home to start my day. I was beat but also felt great at the same time.
When I run hills I focus on what’s right in front of me instead of looking up the hill at what I have ahead. I try to shorten my stride a little and lean into it. I love this Runner’s World video where Bart Yasso says to think about running with your “nose over your toes” so that you don’t lean too far back or too far forward. I also pump my arms to pull myself up and really focus on engaging my glutes as I crank out the repeats.
Check out this great RunWashington article on hill training for some more advice on how to use hills to improve your speed.
I tackled the MCM hill six times this week and am already thinking about my next hill workout. If you’re in the DC/NoVa area, do you have any good hills I should try and run? Do you use hill workouts as part of your race training?
I ran out of time after my morning workout, so I tried to get some pics after work yesterday. I got out later than expected and ran out of light so these aren’t the greatest shots, but here it is…
Bottom of part 1 of the hill – much nicer when construction isn’t happening.
Looking up at Part 2. For the first 5 I ran in the street and headed up the slightly steeper path for number 6 to lead right into my cooldown.
Looking down from the top of the 2nd part of the hill.