HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com The site for everyone who loves running. Thu, 29 Oct 2020 13:33:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.2 https://www.hillrunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hr-icon-100x100.png HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com 32 32 How to race during a pandemic https://www.hillrunner.com/how-to-race-during-a-pandemic/ https://www.hillrunner.com/how-to-race-during-a-pandemic/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2020 15:00:26 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69180 Continue reading "How to race during a pandemic"

For the first time since 1989, I haven’t run an in person race this year. I know there have been a few opportunities this fall but I just don’t feel that any of these events were, to me, worth the risk of potentially being a part of the problem and spreading a serious virus. I terribly miss head to head racing and everything that goes with it but running still means a lot to me even without that and some things, like the health of my family and community, are more important.

That said, we all have to make our own choices. I don’t pass value judgments on to others who make different decisions. I hope they will take reasonable precautions and consider the safety procedures of the races they are considering but, if they feel the race is worth it, that’s their choice.

So, if you’re one of those people who are looking for a race, how do you decide what race to do and then how to safely participate? The always great Gretchen Reynolds offers some thoughts on that.

I’ve long been preaching that running does not harm your knees. There is just no evidence that it does and plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. But why? It would make sense that knee cartilage is worn down by running. Well, here’s a thought on that. Apparently, cartilage can be rebuilt.

I’ve also long been preaching that we worry too much about hydration. We’re fixated on getting enough fluids when the bigger problem is probably getting too much. I remember around 20 years ago someone telling me triumphantly that he weighed more at the finish of marathons than at the start. He thought it was a great accomplishment. I thought it was over hydration. Well, another study says you should drink to thirst.

Remember this summer when reports of a study suggested neck gaiters were not effective in combating the spread of COVID-19 were everywhere? I was skeptical at the time due to the way the study was done and reported on. The study simply wasn’t designed to determine which face covering worked best. Well, another study better designed to determine these things found that they work just fine. So don’t hesitate to use your neck gaiter as a face covering. If you’re really concerned about protecting those around you, as I hope you are, think less about the type of face covering you’re using and more about how many layers you’re using.

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Consistency – what happens when things go wrong? https://www.hillrunner.com/consistency-what-happens-when-things-go-wrong/ https://www.hillrunner.com/consistency-what-happens-when-things-go-wrong/#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69162 Continue reading "Consistency – what happens when things go wrong?"


Last week, I posted about the importance of consistency.

But last month, I posted about the importance of taking time off when your health is at risk.

How do these ideas reconcile? Let’s use me as an example.

The day before my post about consistency went up, I was running on a rugged trail that happened to be covered by fallen leaves. During the run, I stepped on a covered rock and twisted my ankle pretty badly.

Some might say I should push through in order to maintain consistency. However, what would that have led to? Weeks, maybe months, of less than 100% health and less than 100% effective training? Possibly letting the ankle get worse, requiring weeks off to let it recover?

Instead, I took two days off of running, one day of testing the ankle and transitioning back into running, and since then I’ve been back on the original training schedule. No lingering soreness, the ankle is back to 100%.

By placing health first and being willing to take a couple of days off, the interruption to my training was just 3 days. Had I not placed my health first, the likely interruption would have been weeks, if not months.

That’s how you achieve consistency by placing your health first. That’s how you reconcile these topics. An occasional short term inconsistency leads to long term consistency.

Now, I’ll be working on consistency by not putting myself back in the situation I put myself in to twist the ankle in the first place.

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Consistently great or great at being consistent? https://www.hillrunner.com/consistently-great-or-great-at-being-consistent/ https://www.hillrunner.com/consistently-great-or-great-at-being-consistent/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68845 Continue reading "Consistently great or great at being consistent?"

Even this guy (probably) isn’t great every day but you can bet he shows up every day

What does it take to be your best?

So many people think the answer is that you need to be great every day, that you need to be at your best day in and day out.

The truth is that the most successful runners or, I would argue, the most successful people at any pursuit aren’t great every single day. What they are great at, though, is showing up every day to get the necessary work done.

To be great, which is really what it means to be your best, you do need points in time where you achieve greatness but nobody can sustain greatness every day for years on end. What you can sustain is being consistently good at least the large majority of days for years on end.

Since we know it takes years to reach the highest level, it should be obvious that what we’re striving for isn’t consistent greatness. It’s great consistency.

So forget about trying to be consistently great. Instead, focus on being great at being consistent.

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Incidental fitness https://www.hillrunner.com/incidental-fitness/ https://www.hillrunner.com/incidental-fitness/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69081 Continue reading "Incidental fitness"

It won’t make you an Olympian but a regular walk is good for your general fitness

When I first began working from home back in March, I made a promise to myself. I’d get at least 30 minutes of dedicated activity every day until I returned to work.

Why would I make a promise like this? I wanted to make sure I was doing something every day, even if I was taking a day off of running, because I was bound to be less active throughout the day.

My place of work before all of this started is a very large facility. Over the course of a day, just by walking to and from my car, going to the restroom and refilling my water bottle, I’d get thousands of steps even if I was taking a day off of running. While working from home, I might get hundreds of steps walking from the spare bedroom to the kitchen or somewhere else in the house several times a day.

While small activities like walking 1000-2000 steps from your car to your desk at work won’t make you an Olympian, they do make a difference in your overall health and fitness and, to some small extent, your running. Unfortunately, most of us who are working from home are probably getting much less of these activities.

I’d like to encourage you to think of these things and see how you can replace what you’ve lost if, like me, you are still looking at a long time working from home. Can you make a pledge similar to mine? Can you get out once or twice a day, especially on days you don’t run, to walk around the block? Can you take 5 minutes to do a quick strength routine of lunges and push ups? What about getting a standing desk or a sit/stand desk so you can be up and move around at least part of the time? This is another thing I did shortly after starting work from home and it’s allowed me to move more even while at my desk working than I would sitting in a chair all day.

These things matter, both for your overall health and fitness and to some small extent for your running.

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Train to train to race https://www.hillrunner.com/train-to-train-to-race/ https://www.hillrunner.com/train-to-train-to-race/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68175 Continue reading "Train to train to race"


Right now, with very few races on the schedule and some people completely bypassing the fall racing season, we all have an important decision to make. What to do with our training?

After giving yourself some recovery time, I’d like to suggest you train to get yourself more ready to train to race next year (as we hope racing will return then).

What does it mean to train to train to race? In some ways, it’s another way to say get in your base training.

Your final race prep training is, obviously, a critical part of your training. However, what you do before it can set you up for success or failure. By building your base of overall fitness, especially strength and endurance, you will build your capacity for that final training. Essentially, you’ll be increasing the level of training you can handle in that final phase.

The key to training to train is basically to lay a consistent foundation of running. However, while just get out and run is the most important step, here are some other things to think about doing:

  • Just get out and run: It all starts with this so I will mention it again.
  • Strength train: It doesn’t need to be complex but do something to gain strength, which will make you a more efficient and resilient runner.
  • Sometimes, run faster: This could be structured (but not strenuous) workouts or just running faster when you feel good. Do some of this but don’t do it too frequently.
  • Do some strides: Do something to maintain your speed. Strides are great for this.
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Enjoy the special moments https://www.hillrunner.com/enjoy-the-special-moments/ https://www.hillrunner.com/enjoy-the-special-moments/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69087 Continue reading "Enjoy the special moments"

This year, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to share runs with my daughter

Taking a little break from the usual training posts. I’m not sure what to think of this but I’m apparently feeling a little philosophical.

This year, we’ve had a lot of bad moments to get through. However, largely due to at least some of what’s been going on, I’ve also found some very special moments I’ve been able to enjoy, nothing more so than running with my daughter.

Normally, the schedule just doesn’t work out well and I don’t have many opportunities to get out for a run with her. This year, because I’ve been working from home, I was able at any time to ask her if she wanted to join me for a run. It was a regular thing, happening about 3 times a week on average, for her to join me for the first mile or so of my run before I would set out for the remainder on my own.

I can’t even express how much I enjoyed these runs. It was so great to connect with her by doing something we both enjoy doing. As difficult as this year has been and as terrible as the circumstances leading to me working from home have been, I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to connect with her in this way.

Maybe it’s running with someone special to you, maybe something else. Whatever the case, find those moments that mean more than just the run itself. Enjoy them to the fullest and hang on to them. These are the moments that make your running and your life in general greater than the individual acts.

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Health first https://www.hillrunner.com/health-first/ https://www.hillrunner.com/health-first/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69065 Continue reading "Health first"


I’ve been hearing from a few people recently with health concerns. Either people who are getting COVID-19 tests because they are showing symptoms after being exposed (thankfully, nobody I’ve heard from has had a positive test yet) or those of you who live in the areas where air quality is affected by the wildfires.

My message for these individuals has been the same: health first, then fitness.

Essentially, I’m telling them to think of their health when deciding whether to run. If you are placing your health at risk, no training benefit is worth it. Your health should always be your first priority but, even if you want to think of it this way, your running isn’t going to go well if you don’t take care of your health first.

We know high pollution levels, like many in the west are experiencing now with smoke from the wildfires, can do serious damage to the lungs and cardiovascular system of even the most healthy people. We are also discovering that working out with COVID-19 could be a serious long term health risk.

Whether you’re dealing with poor air quality, COVID-19 or something completely different, please take care of your health first. You can always come back to running once these concerns are dealt with.

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Even this year, don’t short recovery https://www.hillrunner.com/even-this-year-dont-short-recovery/ https://www.hillrunner.com/even-this-year-dont-short-recovery/#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69048 Continue reading "Even this year, don’t short recovery"

I may be doing more “jogging and giggling” than racing this year but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take time to recover

My last planned “race” of the year is coming up this weekend. I’ll have run a total of two races this year, both virtual, and I did a stair climb very early in the year.

Meanwhile, my training also wasn’t up to the level it has been in past years.

So what will I be doing as next week starts? I’ll be recovering.

That’s right. Even though I’m doing less of what one would expect to wear on the body, I’m still prioritizing a recovery period after my racing is done for the year.

Why? Because it still matters.

Just because I haven’t placed the same level of stress on my body doesn’t mean I have placed no stress on it. I’ve trained pretty hard and pretty consistently throughout the year. I can still feel that my body is being taxed. Most importantly, I want my body to feel refreshed as I head into hopefully more training and racing next year.

It’s true that my recovery period this year will look different than it has in past years. I’m probably going to take fewer days completely off of running than I did last year during my recovery period. In the interest of not locking myself up in the house and turning completely sedentary, I’m also going to make sure I do something every day. However, for the coming weeks, my focus will be 100% on recovery.

I would strongly encourage you to do the same. Just because this year may be different doesn’t mean you haven’t pushed your body in some way this year. Make sure you still prioritize recovery at the end of your season. Give your body the rest it needs so it can be ready for the demands you want to place on it next year.

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Virtual Racing https://www.hillrunner.com/virtual-racing/ https://www.hillrunner.com/virtual-racing/#respond Thu, 03 Sep 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=69015 Continue reading "Virtual Racing"

My first virtual race!

This past weekend, I ran my first “virtual” race. However, it wasn’t my first run of this type. Back before virtual races were a thing, we called what I did Saturday a solo time trial.

Whatever you want to call these efforts, some of you have been doing these events this summer already and I suspect many more of you will be doing so this fall. It’s the nature of the world we live in right now. I just wanted to offer some thoughts and advice on how to handle the virtual races you might be racing this fall or how to think about ones you have run after they are over.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of advice and it’s not meant to be the final word on the topic. But it is a short list of thoughts I have on how to get most of your virtual racing this fall and how to handle the results, given the fact that virtual racing may be the only racing you do this year (it’s looking like that will be the case for me).

Pre race thoughts:

  • Treat it like a normal race. Go through your normal race week routine, your night before race routine, your regular warmup and everything. Wear your regular race uniform if you have one.
  • While treating it like a normal race, this is also an opportunity to try something you might have wanted to try in a race setting but haven’t. If you don’t have a few cues to think about when times get tough, I suggest that. This past weekend, I was focusing on my stride rate and keeping the effort consistently high (“quick steps” and “every step counts” were my cues).
  • If you can, get some people out there to support you. Even if you don’t have a loud cheering section, just having a supportive face out there instead of neighbors who just think you’re crazy can give you a nice boost.

Post race thoughts:

  • Adjust your expectations. You treated it like a race but it was missing one critical factor: real, live competition. Running “against yourself” or “against the clock” just isn’t the same for most of us as seeing someone out there to chase down or knowing someone is right behind you trying to chase you down. This affects different people differently but I know from experience I am a minute or a little more slower in a 5K in a time trial or virtual race than in a real race. So I factor that in when thinking about what my time means.
  • Recover like you would after a normal race. Even if you didn’t perform up to the level you would have in a race, you still put forth a big effort, more than that of a normal run or even hard workout.

Most important, have some fun with these opportunities. Racing is supposed to be fun, why else would we do it? This isn’t racing but it’s as close as most of us will be able to get. A lot of what makes racing fun is missing in these settings but find ways to make it fun.

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Team HillRunner.com: 2020 Virtual Al’s Run https://www.hillrunner.com/team-hillrunner-com-2020-virtual-als-run/ https://www.hillrunner.com/team-hillrunner-com-2020-virtual-als-run/#respond Sun, 23 Aug 2020 21:32:24 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68998 Continue reading "Team HillRunner.com: 2020 Virtual Al’s Run"

Team HillRunner.com
Unfortunately, things won’t be quite like this in 2020

Team HillRunner.com: I’m sorry for the delay in getting this together. It’s been a crazy year, hasn’t it?

While we won’t have an in person Al’s Run this year, I’d still like to have an appropriately distanced Team HillRunner.com virtual Al’s Run if at all possible. Here’s what I’m thinking, though of course I’m open to ideas:

First, the good news: you can definitely sign up as a member of Team HillRunner.com for the virtual Al’s Run this year. In fact, for the one benefit of this setup, if you don’t live in the Milwaukee area but want to be a member of the team, you can! Just sign up here!

If you’re not in the Milwaukee area, you can do the virtual event on your own or with your friends. Just pick out an 8K course and run it on your own.

If you are in the Milwaukee area, I would still like to do a properly distanced team run and social. What I’m thinking of right now is taking advantage of the Bugline in Sussex for the run and using Village Park in Sussex for a team social. I’m still very open to ideas but this is what I’m coming up with right now. We can work out the details as a team later.

Just a reminder, Al’s Run is scheduled for September 12th. I’d love to see you then if you can make it!

This is, needless to say, a strange year but, when things like this are happening, it’s more important than ever when can be done safely to keep our social connections alive. I think getting the team together in a safe manner would be a great way to do that and good for the runner’s soul.

Again, whether local or remote, whether you can make it to the team event or not, you’re welcome to join Team HillRunner.com! I’m always grateful to everyone who is willing to represent this site.

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