Published on February 10th, 2017 | by Michael0
BLOG: The Wonders of Hill Training!
At every stage of training, hill reps will be on the agenda.
They are the marmite of running, you either love them or hate them but we like to hope the majority of you reading this love them, because we do!
Hill training is the perfect exercise to increase strength, speed, running economy and explosiveness, key elements for when running your race or fun run, in particular, the latter stages where fatigue starts to kick in.
Sure, running high volumes of mileage can get you over the distance but neglecting hill reps, along with any speed session, could have a negative outcome when reaching for that important personal best or finish in one piece at least.
No matter how many blogs, articles you read or videos watches, the popular figure that you pull from each one is, it’s key.
If you’re part of a running club, they normally have go-to hills or inclines that are perfect to throw onto you during a club night, it mixes things up for you if you’re new to it all plus, if you fancied running solo, you’ll get ideas of which ones to run, depending on the intensity you feel you need to base your session on.
If you’re completely new to it, it’s best to find somewhere with a small-ish climb, jumping into a 100m, near vertical hill isn’t the best idea, especially without a warm up as, injury is knocking on door plus, this could totally wipe you out before you’ve really got going, it’s like learning to walk before you can run.
It’s easy to respect the hill training going up but coming down is often forgotten about. Making sure you use gravity accordingly and taking your time – obviously, not crawling or trotting – as you make your way down, helps massively with continuous efforts, we’ll mention tips further down.
Once you master the ascents, the world is your oyster for this. It’s worth looking up or researching the different gradients that are around you or similar to the course you’ll be taking part in, this just adds intensity to your workout and get that bit more experience.
In terms of sessions, there are so many different options, that it’s tough to try pin down one that will suit any runner, it’s just a case of getting out there, get a feel for it, while judging it on trial and error.
There’s just a few pointers to remember when attacking the hill, in both training and racing;
Change in cadence
You’ll notice that, as soon as you get started, your current pace isn’t going to cut it. Shorten the stride and keep to the same turnover rate – over-striding or trying to run flat out wont bode well as you’ll fatigue quickly, killing your session/run/race before you’ve even got going.
Upright & Attack
Leaning back or forward is just asking for gravity to pull you down with a bump. Your body should be upright as your feet are low to the ground, driving up the hill.
By attacking, we don’t mean run at it 100%, by this, it means to be a little aggressive, keep the momentum going and see it through. Consistency is the key for this, so if the gradient increases, keep the same footwork in play
As you reach the peak of the hill, don’t slow down! It’s very easy to get caught out once you see a break of a hill and all that work with momentum with the consistency of your strides will go out the window if you stop before you crest it, just run through the hill and then reset you flat stride pattern.
As mentioned, being careful going downhill is important to remember for training. Get the body position wrong and you could be kissing the pavement/grass, take it too slow and that wonderful sensation called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness) might make an appearance from the heavy impacts or slapping of feet.
Use the (Gravity) Force!
You would have experienced this over time, it’s worse when hills are thrown into the mixture. Lean too far forward and you’ll be pulled to the floor, maybe even experience a fall – not great and can lead to a nasty tumble.
Try keep your body upright but NOT leaning back, this just creates a bit of stability, while maintain a comfortable pace at the same time.
It’s very easy to get carried away with this, especially in race situations. If you start to increase your stride past the point of control, as you head down the hill, this will involve gravity too, your pattern will be out of sync which could result in balance issues and time wasted trying to correct yourself.
However, saying that, slightly increasing strides isn’t completely frowned upon, if you can strike a good balance, you may be able to gain ground and an advantage quickly – just watch how you go!