HILLARY ALLEN Q&A
Facebook Live Q&A with Coach Hillary
1. Coaching accomplishment(s) you’re most proud of and why?
This is a hard question! So, instead of picking out an exact moment or a race/accomplishment of an athlete, I will speak generally about it. The most rewarding thing for me as a coach is to watch my athletes go after their goals. I get to take a passenger seat and see their progress as they train and work toward a big scary goal, a personal best, and I get to be there for the ups and downs along the way. The most special thing for me is to be a source of support for when athletes question if they can do what they set out to do. I'm the most proud when I get to share in their success when they cross the finish line.
2. Most exotic personal running experience?
I've been fortunate enough to run in many beautiful places around the world, but one of the most exotic that stands out in my mind is running the Mount Olympus Marathon in Greece. This is an iconic race because the course takes you up and down Mount Olympus, or Zeus's throne. Starting from the ancient city of Dion, amongst the ruins of the Greeks, you run straight up Mount Olympus, from tropical forest to alpine terrain. The descent back down Enipeas canyon is my favorite because of the variation of terrain and ecosystems. You cross the Enipeas river about 7 times and the water is something out of a national geographic magazine, a vibrant green-blue swirling of water inviting you to stop and drink - but of course you can't do that until after the race! In this canyon I got to run past temples and tributes to the Greek gods. It was amazing to run in the birthplace of Greek mythology. The icing on the cake was a 3rd place finish in a World Skyrunner series event - where normally I'm a ultra distance runner, to podium in a marathon was extra special.
3. Favorite local trail?
The Lost Creek Wilderness is one of my favorite places on earth. The trails are runnable, yet high in altitude and the crushed red rocks on the trail, mixed with dense forests of aspen trees and conifers, pull me into the Colorado beauty. My favorite loop is entering the wilderness area from the southwest side and running the 50km refrigerator gulch loop. You get to run through a slot canyon that was carved by the river and it's quite cold no matter what time of year you go. Of course, there is a trail that goes around it, but what fun is that? I love to do this loop in the fall because the aspen leaves make it extra beautiful.
4. Favorite cross training activity?
I LOVE riding my gravel bike. I discovered cycling through recovery from a series of running injuries, and now I incorporate it into my training and I even do some gravel bike races. My favorite part about the bike is being able to combine running and cycling routes - strapping my running shoes to my bike and heading out to the trailhead.
5. Personal running accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?
In 2017 I had an accident during a Skyrunning race in Tromsø, Norway, where I fell 150 feet. I was lucky enough to survive, but I was severely injured and told I would never run again. After years of recovery, re-jury and personal battles with self identity, I was able to return to running, racing and elite level performance. I'm most proud of my 2nd place finish at TDS, a 145km race with over 9000m of climbing. It was my longest race to date and it was after I was told I would never run again. I wrote a book about my injury recovery if you'd like to read more.
6. Most unusual coaching issue you’ve had to deal with?
I really like puzzles and I had an athlete who was a multisport athlete - running and cycling - and they had big goals for both sports. It was really fun to figure out a good solution and work with him to get the most out of his training, in each sport, at specific times of year, depending on which event he needed to focus on, to accomplish his goals. The most important thing I learned from him is this: fitness is fitness and there are many ways to practice it, whether it's on a bike or running, but the most important thing is keeping the athlete happy and well balanced.