So, lately I’ve challenged myself to increase the average MPG for each tank of gas when driving our Toyota Prius, a hybrid gas/electric car. The other day I was having trouble maintaining my car’s average MPG. “My body is like my car,” I got to thinking, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. (I know, the strange things that go through Derek’s mind.)
For the past few months, I’ve noticed that my Prius’s average MPG is drastically reduced when I drive up hills. Well, that’s not surprising, right? It makes sense that driving uphill takes more fuel than driving downhill or on flat roads. Not rocket science. However, what I’ve also noticed is that driving down hills or on flat roads doesn’t offset driving up hills. When I drive up hills, my car’s average MPG goes way down. And when I drive down hills, its average MPG goes up. But it’s a net negative. Those hills zap my car’s average MPG and I just can’t make up for it elsewhere on my route.
So, how is your body like a car? Well, consider your body’s energy is like your car’s gas tank. If you’re on a long run/walk, and you go up the hills at the same speed as you go on flat roads, you’re going to zap your energy. And going down hills won’t make up for it. You won’t gain back the same amount of energy that you lost, even if you run/walk at the same speed going down the hill.
My recommendation, then, is to train on hills for some of your longer mileage days, whether that’s on a weekday or a Saturday. But take it easy on the hills. Save your energy for later. You can always speed up farther into your mileage. Once your energy is zapped, there’s no way to make up for it later.