Benefits of Running Hills

The advantages of hill running for a runner far outweigh the negatives

Check out these different ways to attack running on hills

The benefits of hill running are endless.  There is so much research on why hills are good for runners that it’s hard to deny the importance of regularly running hills during your training.

There are different ways you can approach hill running:

  1. You can hate hills for all they’re worth
  2. You can love hills because they are so great for your running
  3. You can love to hate hills because while they are hard to master, they are worth the effort.

    Hill running: Hate it or love it?

    Hill running: Hate it or love it?


The main reason runners run hills is to gain power, work on running mechanics, and improve leg drive and running form.

Power

Hills increase your power output.  When you go uphill, more force is required to do work at the same effort.  Hill running recruits all types of muscle fibers which leads to greater adaptation.

Running Mechanics & Running Form 

Want good running form?  Hills improve your leg drive by forcing you to get your knees up.  With practice, your running form will become more efficient to account for the increased workload on the incline.

Hilly Running

Find a hilly route and run. The goal is to run the hills at just slightly faster than your normal pace and go back to normal pace on the down hills and flats.

This workout is one example of a fartlek run (Swiss word for pace changing). You’ll want short, steep hills as well as long, gradual hills.  Remember to run a warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes prior to running hills.

Hill Repeats 

Coach Marc racing down the Ben Franklin Bridge

Coach Marc racing down the Ben Franklin Bridge

One of the two types of hills that most runners would do include short, steep hills.  These will be your faster type paces that are relatively intense.  Fast hill running will recruit speed endurance and power output.  You’ll want to be working on good foot placement (landing on the ball of your foot and driving your knee) as this will also help promote good running form.

Speed Workouts for Distance Runners

Speed Workouts for Distance Runners

The other type of hill repeats would be long, gradual hills.  These will be your slower type paces that last upwards of a few minutes.  Gradual hill running improves both aerobic and anaerobic systems.  Aerobically, you’ll get stronger from the prolonged running at an elevated effort.  By the end of the workout, you’ll start to tap into your anaerobic system making hills one of the best workouts to improve overall fitness during any portion of your training cycle.


Remember, the longer and faster you run hills, the more recovery you’ll typically need between repetitions and potentially even between days before your next workout.

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