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Runners are connoisseurs of hills. We’re always on the lookout for the best combination of length, grade, surface and mystique to create effective and memorable workouts. PodiumRunner is gathering favorite hills from top coaches and athletes around the country to serve as models for butt-kicking workouts on similar grades in your neighborhood.
Runner: Michael Collin, 47, 3:06 marathoner, 5-time Boston qualifier and Boston Children’s Hospital Miles for Miracles Team runner.
Hill: Mountain Road, Falmouth, ME
Length: 1.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 281 Feet
Average Grade: 3.3% (6–9% first half-mile, 1–2% second half-mile, 5–10% last half mile)
Surface: Paved rural road
The workout: In the middle of a run, push progressively harder on each segment of the hill
Bonus credit: Run it at marathon effort toward the end of a long run.
I like running Mountain Road because it’s long and challenging. It tips up at the start and then “gradually” climbs for a half mile before it slopes up again sharply. At the mile mark, it rolls gently and even has a little downhill (rest) before it climbs again — gradually for about a 1/4 mile and then ramps up again for the last 1/4 mile.
It’s not a hill I generally use for intervals or typical hill work, mainly because there are steeper hills closer to home I use for that. I generally place Mountain Road in the middle or end of a run as a fitness test of sorts. I like to build up pace over the course of the first half of the hill, then up the pace on the mid-section before pushing it on the final climb.
I usually only include the hill in my later training blocks. In one breath, it’s a fitness test and in another, it’s a strength builder. The length of my run determines how I address it: Longer run, I keep it controlled; Shorter run, work the hill harder.
It’s always a test. The first Sunday in September, I ran it as miles 18-20 in long run in prep for Boston on October 11. I’ve been a little apprehensive about what pace I’ll really be ready for at Boston. This will be number five (if you include last year) with one good one (the freezing monsoon of 2018 when I ran 3:20). Having done Sunday’s run at an average pace of 7:50/mile, capped with a PR on Mountain Road, I know I’m in a good spot to make a good run in Boston this year, and am ready for the most famous of hills people love to hate.
The proof was in that hill. You can’t fake hills.
Tell us about your favorite hill! Write to us and tell us the details, your workouts on it, and why you love it.