I’m not a stellar runner by any measure except my ability to continue for long distances, but there are two kinds of running I’m just awful at (and consequently hate): climbing, and descending.
You’d think climbing would be hard and descending would be easy given the potential energy implications of each situation but no, descending at any pace faster than a slow walk just beats you up horribly. Last year at Hamster Endurance, beyond mile 50 or so I dreaded every time I was at the top of a downhill, because when descending any significant slope it felt like someone was hammering a knife into the lateral side of my left knee. It was agony. So I would like to avoid a repeat of that particular problem when I run Hamster this year.
I don’t know if there’s a First Rule of Training, but if there is I’m guessing it’s “Train the things you suck at.” And so hill repeats are now a feature of the weekly training plan. Run a warmup - a mile or two. And then up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, down the hill. Climbing up the hill is hard but paradoxically not the focus for me. The focus is running down, concentrating on staying relaxed, running smoothly to minimize jarring impact, and learning to get past the “oh my god I’m gonna die” response.
In general when running I’m incapable of keeping count, and counting hill repeats is even worse, so I just have a little pile of sticks at the bottom. I start with N sticks in one pile, and each time I get to the bottom of the hill, I move one stick to the other pile, and when the original pile is empty I know it’s time to start the cooldown run.