Most of us dislike running hills. That’s probably because we don’t know how to run hills or we don’t run them often enough! There are a few guarantees from running hills: you will get more comfortable and faster on them over time and you will be come a better runner from doing them!
Incorporating hill running into your training is a great way to improve in many areas of your running. By performing hill work once a week for 6 weeks you can benefit by:
- Increasing speed
- Improving leg strength
- Improving leg power
- Improving your running efficiency / economy
- Improving your running form
- Preventing Injuries
- Improving the timing and firing of all of your muscles
What to Focus on while Running Hills:
- Keep your eyes on the top of the hill to keep your form tall and efficient.
- Maintain a quick turnover or cadence to improve power, form and strength. By keeping your feet on the ground as little as possible through a faster turnover, you are reducing the time that your body could fall into bad running form or posture, and you’re improving the strength and explosive power of your legs.
- Pump your arms and legs to improve your turnover and leg speed.
- Use your glutes to push off to propel yourself up the hill!
- Run at an “even effort”: the same pace for the duration of the hill – not sprinting at the beginning and slowing before you hit the top.
- When running downhill: try to land in the middle of your foot. Don’t allow your foot to “slap” down. You should not notice a louder footstrike on the way down than you do on the way up.
Types of hill workouts and their purpose:
|Hill Workout Type
|How to Perform
|Types of Hill Workouts and Their Purpose
|Rolling Hills during a longer run or “Roller Coaster” runs
|Gradually incorporates hills into your routine. Improves leg power, running form, strength, efficiency and speed.
|Run one long or moderately long run every 2-3 weeks that includes a few long, gradual uphills that last from half a mile to 1 mile at a time. Try to increase the total hill mileage to ⅓ of your run mileage over the course of many weeks of training.
|Long Uphill Repeats
|Improves leg power, running form, strength, efficiency and speed
|After a warm up run, run uphill for ¼ to ½ mile-length repeats at at 5k race pace effort (faster than conversational pace). The hill can be up to a 10% incline.
|Improve leg power, running form, strength, efficiency, speed
|After a warm up run, run 2-10 repeats of sprinting (all out pace) up a hill of approximately 15% incline, for 10-15 seconds. Recovery should be back down to your starting point at a slow jog or walk over at least double the time the sprint takes you.
|Improve quadriceps eccentric strength, leg control, running form
|Your form must be perfect when running fast downhill or you risk stress to the knees specifically, or other injury!After a warm up run, run 2-5 repetitions down a quarter mile hill at 5k race pace effort (faster than conversational pace); your recovery should take at least the same time that the hill repeat does. Recover by running at a slow jog or walking in between repetitions.
For those of you in the central Ohio area, check out my weekly Run With Your PT where you can get a taste for hills with a group!