Running the hills is a great way to start building your running form and ultimately become a better runner.
As you become a more experienced runner you can add 2 or more sessions up hill if your body will allow it. You will need to give the body a rest so that time to recover is adequate. Hill sessions are good because you are working against two different forces at a higher intensity. Some say it is a speedwork in disguise!
Create a hill training plan and stick to it!
Below is a hill running workout guide you can follow, courtesy of This Runner’s Recipes.
Running uphill is a great way to build fitness and stamina without needing a hard track session. It will steadily increase your heart rate and you’ll require extra oxygen near the top of the hill.
Your running speed will be slower, which can help reduce injury risks that result from running too fast on a flat open area. Hill repeats are a great way to build fitness at the beginning of a training cycle or after a good warmup (10-15 minutes of slow running).
To get the benefits of a hill workout, find a short hill (about 120m in length and 15-30 meters in elevation gain).
Start with 6 to 10 medium to hard efforts up the hill, focusing on form and driving up from with the hips and glute muscles. I like to keep on the jog once reaching the top and taking it easy down the hill. Once your done with your repeats, do a 6 – 12 minute cool down.
Here are the benefits you’ll receive:
1 Reduce Injury Before Race
Hill training will allow you to get the most out of your current fitness levels with a lower chance injury risk. Why? Well due to the incline of a hill, your stride is shorten and the impact on your body will be lower. The low impact will also help build stronger bones and the muscular tissue its surrounded by. Running on flat pavements the majority of the time can make you more susceptible to shin splints, but running uphill can help conquer those strains.
2 Lose Excess Fat
Uphill sprints can also help with burning off that excess weight! Depending on how much you weigh and the effort expended, you may burn extra than traditional sprinting. It’s best to experiment with flat sprints vs hills and see what works best for yourself.
If you have a treadmill and set it to a five percent incline, do you see an excess in calories burnt? Some people report that it can be 100 calories in difference. If you have no hills around your place, using a treadmill or steps (10 – 20) would be a great start to your hill workout session.
3 Muscular Leg Strength
Uphill striding will help build muscle strength and add extra cardiovascular fitness to your body. The major muscles of your legs and hips will have to work harder to get your body up a hill. Sprinting up hill, will cause your body to work harder because you are exerting both speed and resistance at the same time.
The steeper the gradient of the hill, the harder the glutes, hamstrings will work. When you jog downhill the quadriceps will get their share of a workout too. The calves, core and upper body will build strength like going to the gym.
Moving your butt up hill is very good for correcting posture and balance of runners! So when it comes to flat running, their body can move more freely.
4 Cardiovascular Endurance
Like how I mentioned above with the extra cardio advantages you’ll get, your lungs and heart will become stronger. Running uphill will result in you becoming a more efficient runner before race day and give added strength your lungs need. Moving at a faster pace when running up hill will require a higher demand on your heart. This type of running will force your heart become stronger and pump more blood to the required muscles when they demand harder work.
5 Downhills Have Benefits
So far we have discussed a lot about what hills can do for your running, but what about the downhill running?
The advantage of the downhills is that it will engage your lower abs and quad muscles. Keep the right form with these tips for running correctly downhill.
6. You’ll increase your endurance
Putting in the effort over several weeks with running hills can make a big difference when you do either your early morning jog or 1 hour flat run.
Gradually increasing the inclines from 5% to 10% every few weeks until you have to race will make a big difference to how long you can run for.
- Muscles fatigue will lessen as you improve muscle elasticity
- Use of muscles and tendons you don’t use when running on a flat surface.
- The increase cardiovascular ability to due harder efforts will improve endurance
7 Increase Running Speed
Not only is running uphill great for running velocity, but it’s also great for building leg muscles.
This will make you a lot faster and leaner runner.
- Your leg muscles will contract with more force and power.
- Your quads muscles will bring the knees up higher for a longer stride.
Hill running can be challenging for the most part of runners (Professional or amature). It’s effective when done consistently in months of training preparation before a marathon or a 1 mile race.
Hill Running Technique: Start the hill slowly, gradually working up your pace, keep your chin up so its easier to breathe and land on the balls of your feet. This will help you conquer hills more efficiently and race them better. Remember, if your race includes a continuous hill or undulating hills, the more prepared you are at training them, the better you’ll race them.
For further discussion if your interested in qualities of a hill runner, LetsRun has a good debate going about what makes a good hill runner.
Which style of hill running do you prefer? The uphill Progressions? Hill Sprints (short 8 – 10 sec burst strides) or Hill Repeats (1 – 2min of uphill running followed by jog downhill)?