Training Tip Tuesday – Run For The Hills!

Jack and Jill

Good ol’ Jack and Jill. They were on to something. Running on flat ground day in and day out will make you killer at running on flat ground. But add in a few hills…well, now you’ve got something.

Hills are speedwork in disguise. And, no. You can’t get faster if you walk up the hills. You got to run them. The good news is, you don’t have to run them with killer speed or even close to your flat ground speed. But you do have to run them.

First, I recommend finding a hill in your area. Look for something about 1/2 mile long and maybe a 50-100 ft. change in elevation. You want something that will challenge you going up but that will give you ample recovery time coming down.

I recommend a decent warm up, as well, anywhere from 1/2 – 1 mile jog to get the blood flowing.

Running for the hills

Running for the hills

Approaching the hill:
– Don’t look down! And don’t look up. Look ahead in front of you about 100 feet or so. Typically, your gaze shouldn’t change much from running a straight away. If you tilt your head in either direction too far, you’ll restrict your airway and that will make climbing that hill that much harder.

-Take shorter steps. You don’t want to increase your stride here, even though your body might believe you will reach the crest faster if you lengthen it. Keep your steps shorter. Almost staccato in nature. And take it down a notch. You want to be sure you have enough juice to make it to the top of the hill.

– Don’t lean into the hill. Keep upright. Again, any lean is going to impact your lung capacity. You’ll need all the air you can get. Concentrate on running tall throughout. A slight bend at the hip is OK.

– Be sure of yourself. You so GOT THIS.

– Just before you crest the hill, do about 20 steps, resuming to normal speed.

– NOW you can walk if you need to. Turn around and head down the hill. As soon as you get your breath back, turn it to a light jog. Again, short strides going down.

– Pass the base of the hill by about 50 strides. Then turn around and begin again.

Your first set of hill repeats may just be TWO! And that is OK. The following week, add another, and the next week another. If you do these once a week, you will see a noticeable improvement in how you handle hills. I’m one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” kinds of people. And let me tell you, I saw it. Now I believe.

Run hills.

Run those hills

Run those hills

Have no hills? Try stairs. You can accomplish the same thing, although they will be steeper, and it could be a bit harder on the knees. So, use good judgement. Remember, you aren’t aiming to go FAST, you are aiming to get to the top while conserving energy and expending as little as possible. This will greatly improve the way you handle hills, PLUS it will give you an edge on the flat courses…because your body has now learned how to conserve energy while expending as little as possible. Get it?

Have you incorporated hills into your training yet? What results have you gained from them?

Disclaimer: These training tips are based on my opinion and what has worked for me. I am not a doctor, or a trainer, or a professional athlete. This blog purely represents observations I have made in my 4 years as a runner. Always consult a medical professional before beginning a running or workout program. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.

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