It’s a line from Ghostbusters, the answer to the question, “where do those stairs go?” It occurred to me today on two fronts.

First, I tried to take an easy run this Memorial Day, but decided to throw in a hill in Tuckahoe. This was the hill, ultimately up Fairview Avenue, that I climbed at the end of all of my runs from home when I was a kid. Under a quarter mile, 100 feet of climb. Fortunately, the road is slightly downhill afterwards so I could recover (although it’s where I finished in the old days). I’ve long thought this hill helped make me a very good uphill runner.

Second was watching the Giro d’Italia on Universal Sports (TV). This is the first time I’ve seen this race, and the coverage is excellent. The feed is from Italian TV, and the announcers — I don’t know who they are — are first rate. (Apparently it was touch and go about getting the Giro broadcast in the US, with Universal getting the rights.) I wish they would do the other races as I’ve tired of the cliche-ridden stuff we get on Versus.

To the point. The more interesting stages are those on the mountains, and the Giro provides plenty of them. A few days back there was a finish outside of Bologna that had stretches that seemed like they were riding up a wall. Today’s stage was brutal as well, finishing on top of a mountain. It is inspirational to see guys keeping calm and pedaling, however slowly, up, their thighs seemingly at the breaking point.

Biking and running differ in many ways, among them being that running never allows a change in the stride. No chance to get out of the saddle and make slight adjustments, pulling less or more on one side or the other. Instead runners are committed to keep going forward, and up. On the other hand, we needn’t worry about toppling over.

That the riders don’t topple over but keep cranking the pedals — and I know what it’s like to bonk on a bike, when the seemingly simple task becomes nearly impossible — is a useful image for when running up hills. I’ve failed several times recently, particularly late in runs at the Rockies, and my confidence has taken a bit of a hit. But including good solid hills during runs will, I hope, help me get some of it back. And imagining the simplicity of just cranking the legs on the way up, one stride after another, as the cyclists do, can make that task a bit easier.

Jason, a prolific blogger, posted something on the mechanics of hill running. It sounded awfully complicated. My view is to simply keep the rhythm from the flats and while slowing down slightly maintain the same relaxed feel. That notion has long served me well. (Going downhill is a different story.)

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