Posted by Roger, a contributor to this blog.
Click here if you want to read the NYT article on the best exercise. They conclude it might be stair climbing, which is very similar of course to the hill running.
I awoke on the morning of May 2, 2011 fairly chilled. I thought, “it must be cold outside”, and I covered myself up a little more. Then the alarm went off and I realized that today was the day. The day I said I was looking forward to all through the treadmill workouts. The day boot camp moved back outside. I’d like to say I eagerly jumped out of bed and quickly got dressed. I’d like to say it, but I can’t. I lay there another minute, breathing a deep sigh and knowing soon I would face my great nemesis. Reluctantly I got out of bed. I made sure to put on exercise shorts, sweatpants, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a hoodie, and a coat. My wife and I were actually ready to leave too early so we waited a few extra minutes. We did want to be sure not to be late though. No extra push-ups on our first day outside!
As we drove across town I had some time to rest and think (my wife did the driving). I remembered that last year I was totally wiped out after our first class. I also remembered that I was extremely nauseous. I also realized that unlike last year, this year I would have to go to work after the workout. No collapsing as I did before. However, I did have some things working for me. I had gone to boot camp throughout the fall and winter (though not so faithfully in the winter, but that’s another story). I wouldn’t be a stranger going in as I had met so many great people already and would have my support group there. I also knew what to expect so I would know how to pace myself. Okay, I would be ready. No surprises.
Once we were off the Beltline it was time to open my eyes. And soon, I could see it. My great nemesis. Elver Hill. Waiting for me in the slowly lightening sky. The source of great pride and great disappointment. My foe, standing, waiting to be vanquished once again.
Then came the surprises. First, as a result of not being faithful during the winter, my 20 lb weights seemed incredibly heavy. Even just carrying them from the car to the shelter was difficult.
It was at the shelter where I got my second surprise. It wasn’t Dustin taking us through our first workout. It was Ryan. Smiling, enthusiastic Ryan who puts us through our paces with such positive energy that I can’t help but laugh to myself as my body is pushed to its limit once again. Ryan was setting up equipment around the shelter and on the grass so I thought that it might not be too bad. Maybe for our first day we wouldn’t do much on the hill. No such luck. I said good-bye to my workout shoes, knowing that as soon as I started on the warm-up run through the grass, their final destination would be the garbage can. Ryan called us together and we were off to begin our outdoor adventure.
We started by jogging out to the bottom of the hill. We warmed up doing karaokes, one legged hops, and side shuffles. Then Ryan said it was time to get to know the hill again. We were to run up and down the hill as many times as we could for 4 minutes. Not to the fence, just to where the hill plateaus out. If you have never been to Elver Hill it is a very deceiving hill. It is much tougher than it looks. I made it up the first time, with some effort, and came slowly and cautiously back down. The second time was much tougher. I almost made it up but had to walk at the end. I did manage to get down jogging (at best) very slowly and turned for the 3rd time. I pretty much walked and didn’t get far. Ryan called the time was up and I happily came back down. Done with the hill for the day. Not bad for the first day.
We then went through our circuits. We would only go through the circuit one time but there were about 35 of us so there were many stations. We did wall sits, jumped rope, did push ups using weights combined with a reverse fly, did lunge walks one way and high knee runs on the way back, threw the medicine ball, did one legged mountain climbers, and finally some squats and squat jumps. It was tiring. But then came the third surprise. Back to the hill!
We finished our day running the hill. Ryan set up cones and we had to run up the hill to each cone. At the cone we did 5 push-ups and then continued on. When time was up we came back down and started again. This time at the cone we did burpees. Back down again. The third time we ran as far as we could for 15 seconds. When it was time to stop we dropped our water bottles as a marker. Then back down the hill again. For the next 15 seconds we tried to reach or surpass our marker. From that point we ran up the hill backwards. By this time I could see my reprieve. The next class was arriving and some were already at the shelter. Time to call it a morning.
The first day turned out to be not so bad. My legs were a little shaky from the hill and I was a little winded but no nausea! Elver Hill kicked my butt today but it’s only the beginning. I’ll get my chances to pay it back. The best part, though, was the good spirits and energy put out by the group. Everyone seemed motivated and enthusiastic to be outside. I look forward to continuing to work out with them and to facing all the challenges that Dustin and his team put forth to us!