Why You Should be Running Hills

by kbarry on September 25, 2012

For my run tonight I decided to do my Green lane Loop which starts off downhill, goes flat then back up a massive hill before finishing. The Green Lane Hill is about a half mile long with an elevation gain of about 200ft – pretty steep. As I was chugging up the hill sucking air with my legs burning I noticed that all of the runners going by were going down the hill, not up. I was the only one out there running up the hill, envious of those practically controlled falling down in the opposite direction. What’s wrong with this picture? Everyone going down the hill and taking an easier route up. I wanted to touch today the importance of incorporating (up)hill work into your running routines and the many benefits you will get from doing hill work.

1. Increased Leg Strength
When you run up a hill not only are you using your legs to propel yourself forward but you also have to use your legs to lift you upward with each step. That motion helps build the muscles in your quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings. Building your leg muscles will help you run faster, more efficiently and help prevent injuries. Most runners aren’t hitting the weight room regularly so if this is the only thing you do for your legs it’ll make you a better runner.

2. Increased Speed
Hill workouts are a speed workout in disguise. While you’re running up the hill you may not feel like you’re moving very fast but if you take the same level of effort and run on a flat surface you’ll be moving fast. Doing hill workouts will help with your speed when you’re not going up hills. When that hill comes up during a race your body will be accustomed to moving faster up the hill which will in turn improve your times.

3. Lactate Threshold
Lactact Threshold is your body’s ability to processes and burn lactate acid which is a by-product of your muscles doing work. During periods of intense running you can hit the point where your body is producing lactic acid faster than your body is able to process it leading to that dead legs feeling where you start slowing down. Running up hills will make your body more efficient in processing lactic acid therefore making that point where you legs to dead higher. This will allow you to train and race at a faster & more intense pace.

4. Mental Benefits
How many times have you gotten do that hill during a race and mentally thinking how awful it is going to be and slow down. If you include hill training during your workouts you’ll know the feeling and be able to better mentally prepare for the hill during races. You’ll have the confidence to hit the hills harder because you’ll know how run them from your training.

There are many other benefits to hill running but those are just a few of the major points as to why you need to include hills in your training. Yes, they do suck at first but believe me if you stick to them during your training they’ll get easier and you’ll get faster.

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