Couch to 5K
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Week 6, run 1: the day I took on The Hill..... and won!

After successfully completing week 5, I was feeling particularly cheerful about attempting run 1 of week 6. I even felt confident enough to tackle my nemesis - The Hill!

Now let me tell you about The Hill. It isn't particularly high or long, or even particularly steep - it's the combination of gradients that make it a challenge. It starts out as a long, gentle rise - not much of a problem there. After about 150 yards, the incline increases, and this is where the challenge starts - the terrain is now most certainly hill-like. This goes on for another 100 yards or so and may not sound too daunting. But then there's the sting in the tail - the sudden, sharp increase in gradient about 20 yards from the summit is an absolute killer for a new runner!

The Hill doesn't just claim victims among leisure cyclists and new runners - on winter days when the narrow country lane is covered in a thin layer of ice, cars struggle to make the last 20 yards to the top. When it snows, tractors are defeated by that last 20-metre rise and we've found ourselves trapped by The Hill for a couple of weeks every winter. Since there is also a somewhat gentler rise from the other side, The Hill has been the cause quite a few crashes and off-road exploits in winter driving conditions, when drivers try to built up speed on the straight stretches on either side to make it to the top, only to find themselves faced with someone doing the same from the opposite direction. With the lane barely wide enough to accommodate one vehicle, never mind two, the Victorian iron railings bordering the country estate on one side of the hill started looking rather decrepid decades ago. By now, generations of drivers have decided that it makes a more appealing target than an oncoming vehicle. Basically, The Hill is a menace!

In the first couple of weeks of C25K, I would usually reach The Hill just as I finished one of the short running stages. Walking up The Hill after one of those short jogs was tough enough, but more recently, I've found myself cheating. No way was I about to tackle The Hill a couple of minutes into the first of the longer running sections from week 4 onwards! So I extended the 5-minute warm-up walk to take me past The Hill and then started the first run of the day once I was past the summit. No point in crippling yourself or failing a run due to the geographical equivalent of a hoodlum blocking your way, right?

Half-way through week 5, however, I could no longer avoid The Hill, but fortunately this was from the gentler side as I was jogging back from the village which is my half-way point. Making it to the top on 2 consecutive runs, one of them the dreaded 20-minute run 3 in week 5, was a real boost!

Today, however, there was no escaping it - if I was to fit in the full run on the only stretch of road available for my runs, I was going to have to tackle The Hill on the way out as well. And believe me, when I made it to the top I felt like planting a flag! To me, the day I conquered The Hill will always remain a milestone in my C25K journey!

5 Replies

This is a great post! I live in an extremely hilly area and there are hills of all sizes gradients and lengths no matter which way I turn, so I totally empathize! A virtual flag is now flying at the top of The Hill.


Your post raised a smile and a laugh. Well done for tackling The Hill. :)


That is amazing! I ran most of my runs on the flat/slight incline so take my (running) hat off to you!


Glad you beat The Hill. Nothing will defeat you now :)


Ditto - I HATE HILLS and to hear how you overcame the mental barrier was amazing. I'm visiting my lad in Adelaide at the moment and am living i the hills. I have to walk up what I've dubbed 'Bullitt Hill' and locals call Heartbreak Hill. At the top, there's a slight flat then anothe massive rise. I still have ten days or so tomgo, and your post has just made me set a goalmofmrunning the lot before I go home. Thanks so much!


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