Six Hill-Training Secrets All Runners Should Know

Alison Hamlett says "Learn to love hills and you’ll become a stronger athlete." 

Hills are hard. That’s why many of us run or ride around – rather than over – them in training. You might even choose races that are flat in an effort to keep your hill time to a minimum. But the truth is tackling hills will make you a stronger, faster athlete.

“Hills make you tough and give you confidence,” says running coach Nick Anderson. “If you can work for 10 minutes uphill, then working for 10 minutes on the flat will seem easier.” Follow these climbing tips and you’ll discover that the only way is up.

Stronger For Longer

Hill running offers a great total-body workout that will protect against stresses and strains The ascents will make you more powerful and the descents are just as useful: the balance and stride-length changes will make your reactions quicker and your body more agile.

Pace Yourself

If you find that you start every ascent full of energy and enthusiasm, only to fade alarmingly before you’re even halfway up, you’re setting off too fast. And that could spell disaster further into the session.

Floating On Air

When you incorporate hills into your running training, you’ll develop strategies for climbing efficiently, but you can also learn from the experts. If you know there is a big ascent coming up, slow down a little, relax and prepare yourself mentally to ‘float’ up the hill. Running hills is about getting your breathing right, too. It should be quite a meditative process. Try to breathe in time with your footsteps.

Runner’s High

Gravity is good news when you’re descending, but you can also use it to help you climb. Lean forward a little next time you’re running up a hill, and drive your arms at your sides, making sure not to push them across your body.

Over The Top

As you near the top of a hill on the run, force your arms to work hard to propel your body forward, and upward and to maintain rhythm. Always push for a point just beyond the summit and maintain your faster breathing pace for a minute to get rid of built-up lactic acid. The extra oxygen you inhale will speed up this process.

Try this: Aim to maintain your effort for one minute after you’ve reached the top of a hill, whether you’re running or riding.

Up The Fun

If the burning sensation in your legs and lungs leads you to avoid hills, there are ways to make them more fun. I found that running hills became fun when I started to pass other people in races. Using your competitive streak to conquer hills is a great idea, but if you’re training rather than racing, make hills more fun by running or cycling with other people, and reward yourself at the top.

Original article written by Alison Hamlett in Runners World, read full article here.