Actually, yes. I know, because I used to be one of those people.
I think that, among distance runners, there are those that do well because of the hills, and there are those that do well in spite of them. I have moved solidly from the first group to the second, and it's probably the weakest part of my running.
In high school, we trained at Faurot Park in Lima, Ohio. That also happened to be where our home course was in cross country, and it was one of the most hated courses in the area. We had one hill (that you had to run up three separate times) that looked like a wall from a distance. The whole course was hilly and slick, and unless you really knew how to run it, you could be in a lot of trouble.
The added benefit for us, of course, was that we trained there, too. So, having the most hills in the area, we learned how to use the ups and downs of various courses to our advantage, and other courses always felt easier.
These hills gave us an advantage over every other team. It wasn't enough to win championships, but it certainly made us better than we would have been.
But then came the years without running. In the time between, I lost all of that mental strength and will to conquer mountains that made me a fighter in high school. Now, I do my best to push the straightaways and downhills, and just hope that I don't lose too much time on the ups. This is not the way to guarantee success, and since the people over at the Sunburst Races decided their hill in mile 23 is mean enough to deserve a name, I've got to be ready.
Therefore, instead of speed work today, I decided to do strength work. Quarter-mile repeats just didn't sound like any fun, so instead, I decided to jog out to a hill about a mile and a half from home and do some up-and-downs. I would run hard up the hill, jog down the other side, and then do the same thing in the other direction. The whole thing from one side to the other was about .4 miles, and I did three back-and-forths without stopping. On the last up, I was exhausted, and my legs were absolutely burning. This was only six hills. I could be in trouble here.
But I realized, as I jogged home, that I was in no trouble whatsoever. Of course the hills were exhausting. I don't train on them anymore. This was my first time doing an actual hill workout since high school, and overall, I think it went pretty well. If I do one of these every few weeks, then 100 days from now, in South Bend, I can smile all the way up the A-Nile-Ator (which is what I think it should be called), knowing I'm only 5K from my BQ.
That's the plan, anyway.
64 Degrees / Clear
1.48 Mile W/U
6 x Hill (.43 miles)
1.48 Mile C/D