This week Ewan switches his brain from reps and sets, to hill reps. And if you want to follow his runs and routes, you can via Strava here.
From the outset it’s an odd idea – run to the top of a hill and back down 3 times. But since I switched from strength training to fell running this is my life now. I pulled up to the car park and stuck my trainers on. I still feel a bit odd stretching in public, so the extent of my warm up was to stand on the door frame of my car to stretch out my calves a bit. Then I was off.
I knew what I wanted from this session, up the ¾ mile hill and back down 3 times. But as I’d never actually run the entire distance in one go, without hiking, I had no idea how it would go. I set off on the first climb…
Not bad. There was pain, sure. Pain in my calves, my bad knee, my knackered feet, my soul. But this is hill running. This shit hurts. Head down and crack on. I was moving well, my bad knee wasn’t too bad, my feet not too sore. About half way up the hill I realised I could run it all in one effort. Regardless of what happened with the other 2 reps that would be a PB. Top of the hill, run along the plateau, touch the stone pillar. 1 rep done.
Not so bad. Now back down – brain off, brakes off.
Rep 2 is where it came together. I was warm, everything hurt a bit less and I knew what was coming. It was during this rep that I reached that place that all runners want to reach – unconscious fluidity. My mind was elsewhere and I was just flowing up the trail. The pain was still there, but it belonged to my body, not my mind. Up I ran, lost in this trance until a bulldozing chocolate lab hurtling toward me snapped me out of it. Top of the hill, run along the plateau, touch the stone pillar. 2 reps done.
A feeling that had been growing for a while finally actualized – my god I needed a piss. Found a bush and cocked a leg… headed back down the trail. Loose legs Ewan, loose legs. Relax, turn them over quickly, trust the grip. Flew down the hill. Perfect.
Rep 3 was a grind. After the near perfection of rep 2 it was always going to be tough. There was no flow or trance for this one. Pride was keeping me going. Pride in knowing that in the past I had always power walked some of this hill – today I was going to run the whole way three times. Slog, slog, slog. Baby steps and burning calves. Top of the hill, run along the plateau, touch the stone pillar. 3 reps down.
Steady away back to car. Slight glow at what I just did. Life is different now I run, rather than lift. The training is different, movement is different and the world looks different. I’m feeling a pride in what my body can do that I haven’t felt for a while. It’s tough losing weight. I found an identity in being big and strong and as my bodyweight drops I am losing that identity and becoming something new. However, I’m learning that in reality it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. You do you. And be proud of it.