Running Hills Still The Best Way To Build Strength
If you want running to feel easier and more enjoyable, you’ll want to build “running strength.”
And nothing builds that strength better than the simple act of running hills.
When you’ve trained on hills, even a little bit, you’ll notice these benefits fairly quickly:
- Your muscles grow stronger, making running feel easier
- Your aerobic ability is increased, so your breathing will be easier
- Your stride becomes more efficient, so your effort will be reduced
- Your overall running power improves, so your overall speed will improve
While it would be more comfortable to avoid training on hills altogether, let’s face it: hills happen. So it’s a better idea to know how to run up hills and fit them into your training on a regular basis.
A go-slow approach is best for making steady gains without overtraining, overwhelm or injury. Below is a simple how-to plan for training on hills:
(1) Know good hill running form. As you head uphill, keep your stride short and your feet lower to the ground-longer strides don’t help. Keep straight up from your hips up through your chest, neck and head-don’t lean forward or back. Try to keep up a quick leg turnover. When you come down a hill, keep your stride short and your steps light and quick, keeping your center of gravity over your legs, not leaning forward or back.
(2) Start easy. For your first hill workout, jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then walk for two minutes. From the bottom of a gentle incline, run up at an easy pace for five seconds, then walk back to the starting point. Run up again for seven seconds. Walk down. Run up for 10 seconds, then walk down. If you’re feeling strong, repeat the uphill sequence. Cool down with a 15-minute jog.
(3) Progress slowly. Do the Start Easy workout several times, then ramp it up. Perform 2 x 10 seconds–run uphill for 10 seconds, then walk down and repeat. Then do 2 x 15 seconds, followed by 2 x 20 seconds. On your next hill workout, repeat the uphill sequence twice and then finish with a 30-second uphill run. Cool down with a 15-minute jog.
(4) Rotate hill training into your schedule. Do hill training or a hill run every 1-2 weeks. As your legs gets stronger, you can add more seconds running uphill in your repeats, or add more repeats until you’re running 10 inclines/repeats.
Race training: If you’re training for a race that you know has hills, go ahead and mimic the hilly race in your hill workout training. (You can find the race’s hill profile online.) You’ll be amazed at how much easier the race will feel when you’ve already practiced it’s most difficult elements in training.
Motivation: If the idea of running hills doesn’t thrill you, grab a workout buddy and take turns leading the way uphill. Or choose your favorite running music and don’t let yourself listen to it unless you’re running hills. (Crazy, but it works.)
(Thanks to RW for their original article and image.)
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