Running Hungry: Running hills for The Rolling Pin


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The banana cream pie donuts from the Rolling Pin would be an excellent end-of-run reward.

Image: The Rolling Pin/Facebook

You’ve been running for a while, properly attired for the winter, so now it’s time to entertain the idea of a training plan to help you improve. This week, we’ll talk about the importance of different kinds of runs like intervals and hills, and we’ve mapped out a hilly course in North Toronto, with a pretty sweet pay-off at The Rolling Pin.

Once you’ve started running on a semi-regular basis, following a training plan can help you set goals and see results faster. Depending on how many times a week you’re running, you need to vary the length, intensity and types of runs you do in order to prevent boredom and avoid injury. Ideally, running 3 times a week means you can do a hill run to build strength, a speed-oriented run to build your fast twitch muscles, and a longer, slower run to build endurance.

If you’re working toward a race goal, you need to build your training around terrain that mirrors what you’ll face on race day, but even if you’re not planning on running a hilly course, hill runs are an important part of a balanced running diet. Your best bet is to find a route with a 500-metre hill and start by running up and down the hill once or twice, then building up to five, six, seven or more repeats.

Speed work is also important and, in a weird pushed-to-the-brink-of-exhaustion way, fun. You can use a track for speed intervals, or use a timer while you run, but the most important thing with speed training is run as fast and as hard as you can for a short period of time, alternating with normal-paced intervals. Just like your other training, you can progressively build up the time and distance of your speed runs as you progress.

Lastly, if you’re doing hard runs like hills and speed work, you need a long, slow run in your running week. These are your rambling runs, your listening-to-podcasts or chatting-with-friends runs, your forgetting-the-world runs; progressively build your long run distance by a few K each week, and you’ve got a training plan.

The route we’ve mapped this week lacks the variety of some of our other routes, but what it lacks in novelty, it makes up for in practicality. We start at Lawrence subway station, and run north on Yonge St. to York Mills. This is a gradual ascent on a fairly wide sidewalk, and it’s well-lit at night and in the morning. Once you pass the intersection of Yonge St. and Yonge Blvd., you’re entering the hill training portion of our run: downhill on Yonge to York Mills (through Hogg’s Hollow, a nice change from the commercial strip), where you’ll go west up on the hill on Wilson. Turn at the top and head back down Wilson, then back up York Mills, then back down, then up Wilson… you get the idea. Obviously if you’ve never done hill training you’ll want to start with only one or two repeats, but the advantage of this course is there’s two different hills to run.

Once you’ve finished your last repeat, cross to the east side of Yonge, and finish your run at 3429 Yonge St., just north of Teddington Park Ave, where sweetness awaits you at The Rolling Pin.

The Rolling Pin is a cozy, sunlit space, with ample seating just to have a post-run coffee (they have a full espresso machine) and a read a book. I’m betting, especially after running hills, that you won’t just be interested in coffee, though. The Rolling Pin’s bakery team makes an astounding array of delicious treats, from fudgy brownies to macarons to bacon-chocolate-chip cookies, but the piece de resistance is their donut selection. The Rolling Pin makes different donuts every day, so it’s wise to follow their website, Instagram or Twitter (warning: these links may induce cravings) to make sure you get your favourite, but you can count on them having a selection of cake, yeast, and filled treats like the Nutella Bomb, the Lemon Bomb, the Coconut Cream Pie (my fave!), as well as a daily chef’s special. I haven’t done the math on just how many times you need to run up York Mills to “earn” the calories in one of The Rolling Pin’s donuts, but I can say that with their light, doughy texture, rich creamy fillings and tart toppings and glazes, they’re definitely worth it.

Lauren Simmons is a high school teacher by trade, who has written about Toronto food and drink for TasteTO and Spotlight Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram for an admittedly random assortment of food, drink, running, and travel updates, at @laurendorphin.

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