Ascending toward Kenndey Boulevard / photo: J. Booth
Run strong. Get tough.
Run to (not away from) the hills to get stronger and faster. Seriously. As in stair climbing, runners push against the resistance of their body weight in hill running, putting the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes through an intense workout. The increased strength and aerobic capacity gained from running hills translates into faster and longer runs on flat land. What's not to love about that?
Conquering tough hills during training also gives you the mental strength and endurance to confront them fearlessly in race situations. For example, the incline of the 59th Street bridge during the NYC Marathon will seem like a mere speed bump.
Add variety and increase effciency.
Running hills once a week adds variety to routes that can become unmotivatingly stale with repetition. And strength and endurance are gained in less time and distance running on hills than on flat land.
Thorne Street -- Jersey City's own Heartbreak Hill /
photo: J. Booth
Customized workouts on Jersey City's
The Western slope is the section along the western edge of Jersey City Heights that "slopes" down from Kennedy Boulevard toward Tonnelle Avenue. For a distance of just over one mile, each of the ten cross streets from Beach Street at the southern start to Secaucus Road at the northern end is a hill. The most intense incline is roughly at the midpoint on Thorne Street (the truest heartbreaker).
How you integrate these hills into your workout depends upon your level and capacity.
- Beginners may jog or walk uphill every other street and jog or walk descents on streets in between. That would be a total of five uphills on a one-way route from Beach Street to Secaucus Road (or vice versa).
- More advanced runners may run up the incline on every street, e.g., ascend on the southern side of Lincoln Street and descend on the northern side of the same street. That would be a total of ten uphills on a one-way route -- and twenty on an out-and-back run! The challenge you choose is dependent upon your level, motivation, and training goals.
As always, remember to cool down, stretch, and keep intense hill running to a once-a-week treat.