If you live anywhere except the Midwest, you probably encounter hills on your average daily run (at least small rollers!). Most of us are not too fond of the hills, especially during races. But, what if I told you those same hills could actually make you a faster runner? There are several reasons that hills can make you speedier. Read on to find out!
THE PHYSICS OF HILLS AND SPEED
Running uphill requires greater force than running on level ground or downhill (you encounter much more resistance going up hill). More force= more strength and speed. Think back to the last time you ran up a decent hill–you had to pick up your legs and charge it. Your whole body probably felt like it was getting a good workout, because it was!
HILLS CAN HELP YOUR STRIDE
Running uphill can actually help your running form because it makes you lift your knees up higher. It’s a great way to work on achieving optimal stride length. When your run downhill, you have a faster turnover–this will definitely help make you more efficient in your next race!
RUNNING HILLS HELPS BUILD UP YOUR RUNNING CAPACITY
Let’s face it–running uphill is hard! It’s this same hard effort that helps you build up your aerobic capacity. Regularly running hills helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, so it takes less oxygen for a hard effort. You get the drift– running hard starts to “feel” easier. This will come in handy at the finish of your next race or long run!
HOW TO ADD HILLS TO YOUR TRAINING PLAN
Aside from choosing a route with hills, there are a few other ways you can add them to your training regimen. One workout (which is great for breaking up the monotony of the treadmill!) is to do a pyramid workout. Each interval (few minutes), raise the incline one notch, hit a peak, and then go back down.
While this will help with the uphill portion, you can’t really go downhill on a treadmill–great news if you have knee problems! Another way to incorporate hills is to run a few warm up miles and then find a good hill to use for repeats. Run up the hill and then jog back down. Start with one or two repetitions and build up each week. Ideally the hill will have a 10-15% grade– you don’t want it to be too steep!
Do you incorporate hills into your workout schedule? What’s your favorite hill workout?