Hill running should be in the repertoire of all athletes who want to build strength, speed, and endurance. Not only do hills improve your running economy, they are an excellent form of resistance training, which can strengthen your hips and legs.
A recent study from Auckland University of Technology found that after 6 weeks of hill training, runners improved their 5km times by about 2%. For an individual who runs an eighteen-minute 5km, they can improve their time by about 21 seconds simply by adding hills to their training once or twice a week.
When attacking a hill, make sure you have high knee lift, shorten your stride and always look up, not down, at your legs.
When deciding to do hill training, you should consider the type of hill you are running and what the purpose of each hill is.
- Short sprint hills take about 15 to 30 seconds. The idea in running short hills is to power your way to the top, making sure you have proper technique and working on your speed. Short sprint hills work more on the anaerobic system.
- Medium hills take between 30 and 90 seconds to run and work both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. The purpose of a medium hill is to train your body to tolerate lactic acid build up while maintaining both form and pace.
- Long hills usually take you about 90 seconds or longer and mostly benefit the aerobic system. The purpose of these hills is to build stamina, improve running economy and develop mental toughness.
The 1968 Mexico Olympics 1500 meters gold medalist Kip Keino described hill workouts as “very important before we started doing track workouts.” Hill training improves your running economy, incorporates resistance training and for most it builds mental toughness. Any athlete who aspires to be great should consider hill training as part of their regular training or off-season conditioning, as even the greatest athletes understand hill training builds speed, strength and endurance.
References from the SIRC Collection:
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