Getting your Hill Legs

People often talk about getting their sea legs which is really funny, because isn’t balance in the inner ear? So do you get your sea ears?

Your Sea Legs, for ye landlubbers is your ability to handle the swaying of a boat while walking or standing. At least that’s the definition I am sticking with. For those of you who have been on Cruises before know what I am talking about. You on the boat and for about 2-3 days you are walking into walls, bumping into other people, throwing up that $6.95 mixed drink. Then, things become easier. You make it down the hall without bruising your arm or head, upper decks aren’t as scary… but then you get off the boat and the WHOLE island is rocking back and forth! WOAH!

Your Hill legs, or more specifically, your Trail Legs are the legs that runners also need time to acclimated. Running on the road is pretty “easy”, there might be a curb or pothole or something, but for the most part, the road is fairly even and you can navigate well. Your Hill Legs tells your ability to handle big hills. Since your work your upper quads and Hamstring when you run up hills, you have develop these muscles specifically. So, when you are used to running flat and you come to a hill, your legs are extra tired. Those muscles are not conditioned.

When I am asked would I prefer a flat course or a hilly course, I would say 99.9% of the time “hilly”. The reason is that while you are running up hills, you are “resting” the other muscles that are used during flat runs. So, during a flat marathon, you use the same muscles for the entire race, but if you run a hilly course, your core running muscles aren’t always going full speed.

Now, finding the right course with the perfect sized hills is like juggling flaming swords and glass bulbs… blindfolded. Sure it can be done, but you need practice!

Trail Legs are legs that traverse the rocky and hilly terrain with ease and grace. This is easier said than done. Plus, if you haven’t done it in a while… it kicks your ass, I mean legs.

I’ve been running for about 10 years and I get delusions of grandeur and think that I am always near or in marathon shape. Being in marathon shape is nice because you can run just about any distance under 5 miles and it always feels “easy”.

Right now… I am NOT in marathon shape.

The plan was to run a local trail near my house for 3 loops of 1 mile and go home. The “big trail” is a wide (maybe 3″) trail that makes a nice look with some great elevation gain and loss. The terrain here isn’t that bad but still you need to be cautious.

About 1/2 mile into the first look, the trail is beating me up. I am having a hard time getting acclimated to the new terrain. Crap. Just 1/2 mile and I am already walking and am having a tough time recovering as well. I am not able to sustain more than 100ft or so before having to walk.

Then my mobile phone rings. Yes, I brought my mobile phone in the serenity of the woods as I needed to be on call in case an AC person called. I talked with My Lovely and Talented Wife for about 10 minutes and the continued with the rest of my run. The rest gave my body the ability to warm-up and hit an “idle” position. Although my legs were still a little uneasy, I still managed to run.

The Concord Park had some new routes and trail and so I am not exactly sure how far I ran. I think that I managed the first mile in 9:50 and so that is the average pace to figure out mileage of the entire run. I do have some maps that may shed some clarity, but really it doesn’t matter that much.

If I ran for 30:51 at a 9:48 pace, that would be 3.15 miles. Good enough for me. One of my goal races, at the end of September, is a 17.5 Trail run in Big South Fork. I am so glad that I am getting out on the trails now and getting acclimated.

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon