Crazy 8’s and a Hill Mantra

9/21/11 – HILL REPEATS

Wednesday night I had a fantastic run. We we ran Crazy 8’s, which are hill repeats on a 1.3 mile long route with three hills, the first of which is the steepest hill I’ve ever run up.   It was only the second time I’ve run the Crazy 8’s route, and it kicked my behind.  After the first one I thought I would be lucky to do two, then I told myself I would somehow make myself do three, then I felt great and decided to follow my new friend Rick’s lead and run an extra repeat.  We talked Genevieve into sharing the punishment with us, and pulled off a bonus Crazy 8.  In a grueling, gut-busting, glutton for punishment kind of way that only someone training for a marathon can appreciate, it was awesome.

It was very warm, 90 degrees at 7PM with no breeze.  It was also very dark.  I stumbled and almost fell at the very top of the first Loving hill when a car turned onto the road.  I am determined these days to stay upright and scab-free.  These knees have seen way too much trauma and I have the scars to prove it.

The first hill is to the top of Loving–which is anything but.  It’s STEEP at the top, and the worst part is that when you reach the top and feel like you’re going to DIE, you turn the corner and it keeps going up.  After that there’s a nice long downhill, then you turn left and run up a gradual incline, turn the corner again and run up another pretty steep hill, then the long downhill and back to the bottom of Loving.

It doesn’t look that steep in the photos, but it’s used for hill training by both runners and cyclists.  Getting to the top of that beast, in addition to the other two hills, is definitely a good workout.

As always when I run hills, I had my hill mantra ready:  Just keep going.  I keep my head down and repeat those words, over and over.  I don’t think about the pain, the difficulty, or anything else.  I focus on those words and let them take me to the top.   I used it a lot the other night, especially on the very steepest part of Loving, right at the very top before the turn.  Every word was said with a footfall.  Just.  Keep.  Going.

A very experienced marathon friend told me about hill mantras years ago, and I swear by them now.  His hill mantra was:  I love the hills.  The hills are my friends.  Sometimes I use that one as well, especially on smaller hills.

Another tactic I sometimes use when I run up a really long, tough hill is to talk to it:  You’re not going to conquer me, I’m stronger than you, and so onI probably get a fierce look on my face to go along with the words.  Then when I crest the top I have a little celebration in my head:  Yes!  You couldn’t get the best of me.  I was stronger than  you!  I’ve been known to throw a fist up in the air, even when I’m alone.

My other favorite mantra is one I borrowed from Kara Goucher and I use it any time I need a boost of strength, energy, or confidence:  Fighter.  Short and sweet, and it really makes me feel instantly stronger and more determined. Fighter.

I’m going to need that one for tomorrow’s 18 miler.

STATS:  7.67 miles @ 9:54 pace, 4 Crazy 8’s


  1. Genevieve

    I always tell myself “what goes up must come down”. It’s too long for a mantra, but it always makes me feel better.

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