Ever since the Scotiabank Half Marathon, I decided to give my legs a break (sort of) and cut down on my mileage. Instead of averaging 30 km per week, I decided to aim for 20 – 25. While I wasn’t doing a lot of long runs, I decided to focus on hills. Luckily, Strava has been releasing climbing challenges for runners lately. The July challenge required 5,000 meters of climbing. That meant multiple Grouse Grinds, sometimes twice in one weekend (and might I add, it rained heavily on both those days). It also meant I had to find a route within downtown that would give me a decent elevation gain for a short run. I decided to run from work to Beaver Lake in Stanley Park, run a lap of the lake, and head back, climb Georgia and coast the rest of the way home. This was about 8 km and gave me 230 something meters each time. Definitely doable either on my lunch break or after work. I’m happy to report that I got that July badge 🙂
A month of hill training really does make a difference. Past hills that I’ve had trouble with don’t seem as difficult anymore and I feel like I can last longer, especially on very gradual inclines like the Granville Street Bridge (northbound). I take the ramp off West 4th near Fir Street and just climb. The top of the bridge is not for a long time and I amazed myself and didn’t stop on the bridge at all. I used to take “photo breaks” just to catch my breath… they were really “ugh I’m so tired” breaks. It was very motivating to know for a fact that punishing myself on countless hills had a good return.
So don’t skimp on your hill training! Here are some of my favourite hills in the city:
- Grouse Grind – a mountain, not a hill
- Stanley Park Causeway + Lion’s Gate Bridge – I’ve still yet to complete LGB southbound without stopping.
- Georgia Street
- Robson Street (from Denman until Thurlow) – this seemed tougher than Georgia but maybe I was going crazy
- Burrard Street Bridge – have fun going northbound!
- Granville Street Bridge – again, northbound (ugh)
- Cambie Street Bridge – the easiest of the 3 downtown bridges
- Davie Street from the waterfront (Yaletown side)
- Hornby Street between Beach and Pacific – also known as the hill that leads up to the Burrard Bridge on the Sun Run, short, steep, and great for repeats
- Pipeline Road in Stanley Park
- Jack Poole Plaza stairs
- Pender between Abbott and Homer
- QE Park – just climb to the top
My tip for running hills… take your time and focus on something close by like a crack on the sidewalk. Focusing on something far away makes me feel more tired and running becomes more daunting than it is. Ok well it IS daunting but it can be less discouraging. Also, hills give you fantastic views the higher you climb. Worth the pain!