Mount Desert Island is a hilly marathon. And when I say “hilly,” I mean quad-killing, think I’m gonna die hilly. Check out this monster:
In order to train for hills like this, my coach has me doing a number of things. One of them is sandbag hill repeats. The exercise is Neanderthal in its simplicity: grab large sandbag, place on shoulders, run up and down steep hill for about 45 minutes. The principle is that this will strengthen my legs far more effectively than normal person hill repeats (since my legs now have to accommodate the weight of the sandbag; in my case 35 extra pounds).
While this exercise is incredibly difficult to do (seriously, according to my Fitbit I burn more calories doing this than almost any other activity…. It’s because my heart rate spikes in the first sixty seconds or so and never really comes back down until I’m done), it’s also something I’m really enjoying for a variety of reasons. Reason one: I get to go run a hill on an awesome, shady path through some Endor-style woods. Seriously. My first time out there, I couldn’t help but think of this the entire time:
I remember wondering, as a kid, what kind of sadist Yoda was. I think I have sufficiently answered that question in my adulthood. Luckily my coach only makes me carry a sandbag and not piggyback him (my coach is a six-foot-something man built entirely of muscle; in my head I refer to him as “Gaston”).
Reason number two: there is something really viscerally thrilling about hauling this sandbag around in the outside world. It seriously makes me feel like the baddest M-Fer in the world. The added bonus is that the trail I use is a pretty popular one around here for runners (especially those of us doing hill repeats because… well… it’s a giant hill; about half a mile up an insane incline which is a pretty great split if you’re actively trying to run hills for your workout). I pass other runners frequently on the path. Every time I do, I get looks from them. The looks vary in purport; from the pitying “oh my gosh who the heck did you make angry to deserve this treatment?” to “oh my gosh, you’re the baddest M-Fer in the world!” Sometimes, other runners even cheer me on or say admiring things about me. Let me tell you how AWESOME that makes me feel as a girl who, up until her adulthood, was not “athletic” by any sense of the world and was always picked last for any sports team. It also reinforces to me how seriously awesome the global running community is; where else would you tell a perfect stranger how awesome they are simply because they’re doing something similar to your task but with an added degree of difficulty?
Reason number three: the view at the top is absolutely spectacular. I’m not sure I’ve managed to capture it in its glory, but I’ve tried on each occasion that I’ve been out there. Check this out:
What’s your training schedule look like?