Hill sessions may not always be a welcome sight in your workout calendar; however, they reap many benefits.
What are the Benefits?
- Improved strength and speed endurance ability through the activation of more muscles.
- Improved core strength by engaging your core in a different (with a slight forward lean) dimension.
- Your arm drive will be more dynamic on the ascents.
- Higher engagement through the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings).
- Improved power. Hill running allows you to focus on a strong push-off and leg-drive without thinking about the coordination needed for faster turnover. This will improve your stride length and flight time.
- Reduced risk of injury (on the uphill) due to less downforce. Of course, the opposite applies to the downhills, so use the descents as recovery if injury-prone.
How Should I Include Hills Sessions?
How to get started
Sessions within MyProCoach plans are progressive, with gradually increasing intensities. However, these can feel tough if you are not used to running hill sessions. Start with a slight gradient and do fewer reps with longer rest intervals as you build fitness. And remember, running hard downhill can be hard on the knees and quads, so take it easy on the descents to avoid risking injury.
Using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) enables you to work hard on the ascent. Heart rate lags when running short real-time efforts, and your pace will be slower than you can achieve on the flat; however, these metrics can be used for post-workout feedback.
Long and Moderate
Run at a Moderate effort (Zone 3). For instance, a 2-6% gradient over 2-5 minutes. The gradient will depend on the length of the hill and your experience. Repeat three to five times.
Short and Hard
Run at a Hard to Very Hard effort (Zone 4-5), depending on the repeat length and your experience. These repeats might be 30-60 secs each on a gradient of 4-7%, four to eight times. Rest with a walk or jog back down to the start.
Tips on Form
- Look forward and avoid looking down or allowing your chin to drop to your chest.
- Avoid bending forward at the hips; this moves the centre of gravity too far forward, making it less efficient. Lean forward from the ankles.
- Swing your arms back and drive them forward whilst avoiding crossing them across your body.
- Stay relaxed through the shoulders. Keep the chest open.
- On steeper, shorter hills, take shorter strides with a faster cadence to keep pace. Drive your arms to help this.
- Pace yourself throughout the session, finishing strong with good form.
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