I've always dreaded running hills and believe they are a weak spot for me. I will frequently pass people while running in the park on a flat or downhill grade only to be passed by those same people on an uphill.
I'm reading a new book published this week called Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach; the author is a Brad Hudson, a coach who is currently training Dathan Ritzenhein, a member of the US Olympic team. Ritzenhein ran last Sunday's NYC Half-marathon in 1:01:38 - almost exactly half the time it took me; he placed third (the only American in the top 10) - about 4,900 places ahead of me. Kind of puts things in perspective....
In any case... Hudson's book is very good so far. One of the centerpieces of his training approach is the use of hills for a number of different purposes, the argument being that running hills can contribute significantly to overall fitness levels. Without having a fully developed plan for incorporating some of his approach into my trainging program, I went out on this morning's run inspired to really attack the hills. It's a whole different thing mentally to say you are going to speed up on a hill rather than slow down, which is what I usually do. After the first few miles I arrived at Cat Hill on the East Side and did a couple of 15 second sprints while going uphill. While I hadn't planned to do so, I found myself speeding up each time I got to big hills on the balance of my route.
Though the conditions were tough and the park was super-stinky (garbage, rot, urine, ginkgo, etc. in various places) I turned in a good time, finishing the main loop in just under 52 minutes - an 8:36 pace. Not bad for a day with temps in the upper 70's and high humidity. Most importantly, I've got a whole new perspective on hills.