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The Hospital Hill portion of the Historic Half course has become a thing of legend. Locals know about the hill located adjacent to Mary Washington Healthcare, and out-of-towners soon learn from social media connections or by scoping out the course elevations that a challenge awaits between miles 10 and 11 of the course.
Historic Half runners are not the only ones to face off against Hospital Hill this year. Runners in the inaugural Marine Corps Historic 10K as well as the redesigned Semper Fred 5K will also charge the hill before claiming the title of “finisher.” The point-to-point 5K and 10K courses will merge with the Historic Half prior to Hospital Hill, challenging participants across all three events.
With a steady rise in elevation of 200 feet over the span of a mile, Hospital Hill can be a feat for those not prepared for an uphill run. However, with proper training Hospital Hill can be easily managed. This year, Historic Half partner VA Runner is offering an expanded training opportunity to aid with tackling the elevation on race day.
Nate Brooks and Greg Greven of VA Runner are looking forward to leading the training program and working with runners on endurance, stride, injury prevention and developing the mental fortitude to complete the hill. Brooks and Greven are veteran Historic Half runners and have previously trained Historic Half participants for Hospital Hill. During the 2012 Historic Half, Greven personally ran the hill an astounding 32 times in support of runners in need of motivation.
“Most of us want to quit when we see a hill like that at mile 10,” says Greven, explaining why it was important to him to be on the hill with his trainees.
Brooks and Greven share that the key to becoming more comfortable with this portion of the course is getting out and running it, and then repeating the hill workouts. For local runners who can, experiencing Hospital Hill prior to race day is nothing but beneficial.
“You can go out and run the hill once when you’re fresh, but what you really want to do is get your body used to running the hill after you’re already fatigued,” says Brooks. “At mile 10 on the course, you’re already going to be tired.”
To physically cope with Hospital Hill on race day, runners should remember the following:
• Slow your pace. You don’t want to overexert on the hill and sacrifice your performance in the remainder of the race.
• Watch your posture. Engage your core muscles to remain strong up the hill.
• Control stride length. Taking shorter steps helps propel you up the hill.
• Keep airways open. Control your breathing as much as possible.
• Keep your knees up to increase power in your legs.
• Get your head in the game. Nothing will defeat an uphill run faster than doubt.
Greven and Brooks say that much of their job when training runners for Hospital Hill is getting rid of their self-doubt. Hospital Hill is intimidating and challenging, but incredibly doable.
“Hospital Hill is a real emotional moment for everybody,” says Greven. “It’s the point of giving up. Through training, we help with the confidence and calmness runners need for getting up the hill.”
“When you build up confidence, the fear is gone,” agrees Brooks. “When runners get to the top of the hill you see they have a different mindset and it’s not as bad as they thought.”
The VA Runner training program will begin on March 6 at locations in Fredericksburg and Clifton, VA. VA Runner staff will lead warm-up sessions at the stores and then follow with short distance runs to include Hospital Hill, for the Fredericksburg participants, and a similar course elevation and distance in Clifton. The hill runs will focus on form, breathing, stretching and other techniques to aid with performance on Hospital Hill.
Click here for more information about the VA Runner Hospital Hill training program and other fun runs hosted by VA Runner for Historic Half participants.