Hill training. The mere sound elicits one of two responses. You either love or hate hills, at least for most runners I have met. I tend to lean toward the latter, but appreciate the benefits from a solid hill workout, yet I do not fault you for altering a route once in a while to avoid them. Let’s talk hills.
Benefits of Hill Training
“Hills are speed workouts in disguise.” If you have been around a running coach, you have likely heard this cliché. Hills either mixed into a run or a hill specific workout will inevitability boost your speed. This is a result of the increased power necessary to drive up a hill.
Driving up long hills or hill repeats will build your endurance and reduce muscle fatigue. Regular hill training will likely increase your confidence, leading you to be more willing to press on longer during that big race.
Improved neuromuscular fitness, resulting in better running economy at any distance. Hills also activate your glutes and other muscles which may otherwise be neglected or over looked during workouts improving your response to varying terrain.
Shortened strides, forefoot strikes, and stronger muscles all help support proper running form as fatigue sets in toward the end of a workout or race.
While some many consider this a speed benefit, hill training can help train you to a faster foot turnover. While every runner is unique, a general rule of thumb is an average cadence of 180 step/min which is typically optimal for most runners. Too slow and you may be over striding and heel striking which could result in injury down the road.
My favorite benefit of hill training is the higher calorie burn rate. I have a HUGE sweet tooth and though I do my best to properly fuel my body, I do enjoy not being as concerned about snacking a bit…or a lot.
How to Run Hills
BE ALERT! Running hills whether road or trail requires you to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Especially on the trail.
Ensure safe and proper footing, keep a shorter stride, forefoot strike, and shoulders up. Think about landing feather light on your feet.
Do not attack the hill unless you are doing repeats. Attacking the hill is likely a waste of energy, maintain your pace prior to the hill as consistently as you can through the uphill, leaving you ready to relax and use gravity on the downhill.
Hope reviewing these benefits and tips will encourage you to go out and run some hills. Happy trails, and keep Running The Ville!