Running up (and down) hills is so good for you. I’m not saying hill running is fun, as I often have a love/hate relationship with but, but I just do it anyway.
I try to incorporate hills into my weekly runs for a multitude of reasons.
- Runnings hills strengthen your quadriceps, which ultimately makes you a stronger runner
- Running down hills stretches out your quadriceps
- This is my own opinion, but running tough hills makes you mentally stronger
- Running hills increases your VO2max (the ability to breathe in and utilize more oxygen)
- Your heart becomes more efficient
- Running hills makes you faster by increasing strength, pace, and running efficiency
- You are forced to pick your knees, which will help running form
- You just feel more awesome
So now that you know some reasons why running hills is beneficial, you are probably wondering what types of hills, length, time duration, etcetera.
- Long distance hills- I do this once a week, typically during my long run. My long run (currently) consists of 8-10 miles and I try to get in two-three hills during that run. Conveniently there are three hills that are close together that I can easily hit on the same route. I do not run all three hills in a row, I space them out by a couple miles to let my body recover. Each hills take me between 30-60 seconds to run up. Once you run up a hill you either need to turn around and run down it, or find a hill that you can run down quickly. The three hills I have on my route are conveniently opposite, so I can run up one hill and right down the next. Running down the hills will not only make your recovery effortless, but it will stretch out your quads.
- Short hill repeats- Pick a steep hill (maybe one that make you say “omg, that looks awful”). A hill repeat consists of sprinting up a hill (short hills should take between 10-15 seconds) and then jogging back down. Do this 8-10 times (rest between each sprint).
- Longer hill sprints- Pick a hill a bit less steep than your short hill repeat. These spring mirror the same strategy for short hill sprints except they should take longer to sprint up (20-30 seconds).
These are just a few of the main hill workouts that will help you become a stronger runner. Try the long distance hill once a week, and rotate between short hill and longer hill repeats weekly. There is no need to do all three types hill workouts weekly, mainly because you don’t want to overwork your body on hills, and you should be doing other things like sprinting (I will post about that later!).