Hill running is a workout that every runner should consider incorporating into their training routine. The benefits of hill running are numerous, including improved leg strength, running economy, and endurance. Not only that, but many professional runners swear by the effectiveness of hill running, including British athlete Sebastian Coe and New Balance coach Steve Vernon.
One of the main advantages of hill running is its ability to increase leg strength. This, in turn, can lead to better race performances over 5km and 10km. Hill workouts can vary in terms of the type of hill used, such as short or long hills, undulating or steep hills, and low or high gradient hills. Each type of workout has a specific goal, whether it’s to enhance speed, strength, or running economy.
During the winter months, most runners focus on building up their aerobic endurance. However, it’s also an ideal time to build strength that can benefit you during the racing season in the spring and summer. One way to achieve this is through long hill workouts. This involves finding a long hill with a moderate incline between 100-200m and running a series of 8-10 hills with a jog back recovery. Another option is to select a hilly route for your mid-week or weekend long run, which helps you develop endurance and specific leg strength.
For athletes looking to achieve the best results, research suggests that a mixed hill workout is the way to go. This includes running on a course that includes a long uphill, downhill running, and a flat section. Continuous up and down hill running is also a challenging workout that improves aerobic strength and strength endurance.
If you’re looking to improve maximum leg strength and speed, a steep hill with a moderate to high gradient is ideal. Short hills for power are also effective and require explosive, maximum speed running for a short duration.
Lastly, running sand dunes on the beach is a popular workout among middle-distance runners. It helps improve running form and technique, as well as building leg strength and experience.
Incorporating hill running into your training routine can give you an advantage on race day, especially if the course has hills or is cross-country/trail running. The “Killer Kilometre” race in Derry, Northern Ireland, has been a favorite for 20 years, featuring the infamous “Southway hill” with a >10% gradient. Hill training is vital for anyone looking to participate in this race or improve their running.
In conclusion, hill running is an incredibly effective workout that every runner should consider incorporating into their training routine. With its ability to increase leg strength, running economy, and endurance, hill running can make runners faster, stronger, and more enduring.