Let’s start with what hill training is – it’s when you incorporate running up and down a hill into your training program. Ideally the hill should be approximately 500 meters in length and have an approximate gradient of 6-7%. If you don’t have a hill this length or gradient near you, don’t worry, go with what you have – whether that be a long slow incline, or short and steep.
You don’t have to incorporate hills into your training – it’s not essential – but running hills will make you stronger, help you increase your speed, and build strength and endurance. Lots of benefits!
I started running hills when I was training for my first half marathon in 2015. In the beginning I used to dread seeing hills on my training schedule. They are hard, really hard! But after every single hills session, once I was done and had achieved the required number of hill repeats, well let me tell you, I felt so dang tough and strong and unstoppable!
Before you take on a hill, make sure you are properly warm, ideally do warm-up stretches and then run approximately 1-2km to the hill. Being fully warmed up will help to prevent injury.
The second thing that will help prevent injury when running hills is posture. Here are some recommendations for ensuring good running posture when hill training:
-Chin up and eyes should be looking approximately 20 meters in front (if you are looking down at your feet it will limit your breathing)
-Keep your breathing relaxed – big breath in through the nose, out through the mouth
-Imagine a string is pulling you up from the chest
-Pull your legs up with your quads and drive down through the knees
-Keep nice and light on the balls of your feet
-Pump your arms (if it helps, imagine you are driving ski polls/walking sticks into the ground to give you momentum)
-Power up the hill as fast as you can, don’t let your brain tell you to slow down
Once you reach the top of the hill – YEAH – you can either walk down the hill or do a very light run to allow your breathing and heart rate to recover before going again. If you need to take a few moments at the bottom of the hill to recover for longer, then do so, but then get back to it! Repeat the hill as many times as is on your schedule.
Running, Nutrition & Mindset Coaching
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