Try these simple steps to gradually increase strength, avoid injury and enjoy running hills.
Our favorite time of year… training.
If you’ve signed up for a new race, a course that you’ve never run before, it might be in your best interest to check the incline of the route. Running hills building strength better than any other type of workout, so don’t shy away from a hilly course. Speaking from experience, it takes much more out of you to run a hilly course compared to a flat course. In fact, my race in June is extremely hilly, and I’m already starting to dread one hill in particular!
According to Runner’s World, “Running inclines forces your muscles to work harder; as you grow stronger, your stride becomes more efficient and your speed improves” (UK 12/12). If you are avoiding hills just because they are difficult, here are a few simple tips RW provides to gradually introducing hills to increase strength and reduce the challenges to boost your fitness.
1. Start easy–
on your first hill workout, jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then walk two minutes to lower your heart rate. 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. Finally, run for ten seconds, and walk back down. Repeat as often as possible. Cool down with a 15-minute jog. See step four for maintaining good form.
2. Progress Slowly- Do step one several times, increasing times as possible. Once you are comfortable with that workout, ramp it up. Run up the hill for ten seconds, twice, followed by running up the hill for 15 seconds, twice. Follow this up with running up the hill for 20 seconds, repeat twice before rounding off the workout with a 30-second run.
3. Stick with it-
It’s easy to lose the progress you’ve made if you aren’t out there running hills… but you don’t need to run it every day. RW suggests scheduling a hill run every seven to 14 days. Once you’ve conquered step 2, add extra reps until you are running a total of 10 inclines. If you’re running a race with hills, try to find hills that mimic the course you will be running.
4. Maintain Good Form-
It’s easy to injure yourself on a hilly course, so make sure you are maintaining good form… As you ascend, shorten your stride and keep feet low to the ground. Keep your head, chest and hips perpendicular to an imaginary horizontal line. On descents, take short quick, light steps (don’t pound the pavement), and keep your center of gravity over your legs (don’t lean forward).
So there are our tips; and if you are a runner, give us your tips on introducing hills into your routine. If you’re a beginner, feel free to leave questions if you have any!