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I’ve noticed more runners ramping up their training now that warm weather (slowly, temperamentally) approaches. For those interested in participating in a fun, low-mileage race in April–either to stay motivated or to compete–I recommend the Thomas Labrecque “Run As One” 4-miler in Central Park (make sure to register early, as New York Road Runners has begun capping their races). I ran the race last April, and enjoyed the energy of running together with so many others on a beautiful spring morning in the park. I even ended up being offered a summer job by a runner I spoke to for a portion of the race.

If you know you can run the distance, I recommend doing some hill workouts over the next few weeks to prepare, as the course is far from flat. Don’t be discouraged, the hills are very manageable if you are prepared. To train for such a short race, I usually just tack on a hill or two to an easy run or do a few hill repeats instead of a full run–what Ed Eyestone calls a “Short Hills” workout in this article from Runner’s World.

For those who live on Barnard campus or in Columbia dorms on the west side of campus, my favorite hill to run repeats on is in Riverside Park at 96th St. Warm up on the run down there, take the path that loops around the dinosaur playground, and as you head back north, power up the hill. If you’re running repeats, simply slow down and jog back around the playground to recover before powering back up the hill.

For those living in East Campus or in Cathedral Gardens, run along the northern perimeter of Morningside Park. From the corner of 110th Street and Columbus Ave, run north up the hill to where it plateaus at 114th St, jog the flat to 122nd, and then practice running downhill as Morningside Boulevard curves back towards Amsterdam Avenue. Turn around to power back up the hill, recover, and run the downhill back to 110th and Columbus. For a longer run, you can run the entire perimeter of the park–the southern border is mostly flat. There are also plenty of hills within the park, and if you really want to feel the burn in your calves and quads, try attacking the many staircases that prove that, yes, Columbia really is in the Heights.

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