Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

One of the biggest challenges with running is maintaining interest. It can be boring to run the same loop day after day (and you know we all do it). It becomes monotonous, and therein lies one of running's biggest challenges - consistency. 

Last year during my work's board retreat my friend and I ran up the ski hill at Boyne Highlands during our retreat. It was such a challenge that we decided we'd do it again at this year's retreat at Crystal Mountain.  I grew up in West Virginia, and I'm a lover of mountains. Michigan is completely flat in the Lansing area, and the only real opportunity for any significant hill training is in Mount Hope Cemetery. I see a rare hill, and I want to climb it.

My sophomore year of college I lived in a duplex with five other girls off of Price Street in Morgantown, WV. Price Street is a very steep street, and it was a daily challenge walking back from class (especially if it was raining or snowy).  I am used to hills (or at least I USED to be used to it). I love running hills, and the ski hills in Michigan are honestly reminiscent of some of the hills in downtown Morgantown. Mountains they are not.

Fraternity Row in Morgantown, WV. Not the street I lived in, but about as steep.
That doesn't mean, however, that running up the hill wasn't hard.  At the top it was so steep there was absolutely no running - I could barely keep my footing while walking. But we did it, and it was awesome. We then walked along the top of the hill with the intent of riding the ski lift down. Unfortunately we were told the lift was only for those with injuries (that was a new one) so we trudged through tall grass back down the hill.  Anyone who runs hills knows that the downhill is harder sometimes than the uphill. This was no exception.

Later that evening, after several cocktails, we rode the Crystal Coaster down the same hill we walked down. It's this weird little water slide like ride where one sits in a little cart and heads down the hill. After two gin and tonics I was reasonably fast. After four I was amazing at it.

The Crystal Coaster. Fun times.
The next morning we headed to a high intensity interval training class that left my abs sore for three days. My friend and I were the only ones in the class, and it was thankfully only a half an hour. But it was definitely high intensity with lots of individual attention. My calves were still a little sore from our little hill run the day before, and this class only kept the pain going. Regardless it was an awesome way to start the day.

Yes, running can get monotonous. But mixing it up a little bit - running up a steep, Morgantown-like hill, taking a fitness class - helps me appreciate those regular old boring loops I've done 1,000 times. Now off to find my next challenge...

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