Breaking through the comfort zone

hill repeats, running One of the biggest things that I believe leads to injuries, and part of what led to mine, is falling in a comfort zone. Same pace, same route, same thoughts, same EVERYTHING. One new piece of advice I've developed in the past few months, but haven't really said is: Don't get too comfortable.

By that I mean to change things up. It doesn't have to be all the time. Just make sure a couple of times a week that you do a run isn't comfortable. Do something different, take a different route, run at a different time of the day. Something.

As my confidence continues to build, today I once again did something with running that I haven't done in a while -- hill repeats. While no run of mine can avoid hills, rarely have I done hill repeats on my own. I've done them in training groups and I did them in high school track 16-plus years ago. In my almost 4-year-old blog, the term "hill repeat" comes up in just four posts (five including this one).

That's a problem that get it's first fix today.

I was going to do a trail run today for the first time since my DNF in June. When I got to the trails, I realized how bad of an idea that was after so much rain this week, especially since I had my dog. After I got to the bottom of a hill of the trail I took, I did most of my run in grass. I then did four hill repeats on a hill that was just under a tenth of a mile long. Then I ran about a tenth of a mile over to another spot and did two more on an even steeper hill of about the same length. Then I went along some rolling hills and circled back around and did one more. After running back toward where the trail dumped me out, I ran up one more a nice long hill of about two-tenths of a mile back toward my vehicle. I finished the run off on some gravel and pavement for about a half mile.

It was pretty humbling, but very rewarding. My dog was dragging pretty good, too. All told, it was only 3.1 miles, but definitely the toughest 3.1 miles in a while.

I have to add hill repeats to my workouts. HAVE TO. While the hills are very tough around here, it's a pretty awesome feeling to tackle them more than once. I know the benefit I get from them ... I just have to do it.