Whatever type of runner you are, whether trail, road or track, adding hill workouts to your training plan is a great way to get quicker and stronger. Also, since it’s going to become increasingly difficult to get track workouts in (like in Ontario, where sports fields—which includes tracks—are closed to the public), hill running is a good alternative.
Just like the track, hills provide you with the opportunity to run intervals of a consistent length and difficulty. With each repetition you ascend the hill and jog or walk back down for your recovery. Since there’s no variation in the distance (you start at the bottom of the hill and go until you reach the top), you can perform high-intensity repeats and see how consistent your efforts are. If you find yourself slowing down too much after the first few, you know you have to take a more conservative approach. This knowledge will also come in handy in races, and you’ll be less likely to attack a hill too aggressively.
Once you learn how hard you can run up a hill without blowing up, you can run 10, 15 or 20 repetitions in a workout. Just because you’ve figured out the pacing doesn’t mean this will be easy, though, and you’re still going to have to dig deep to reach the top of the hill each time. Pushing through each interval will make you physically stronger, but it will make you stronger mentally as well.
Mix things up
It’s always nice to run on flat ground, but it’s good to add some variety to your workouts every now and then. It’s going to be tougher than your regular flat routes, but those roads will still be there tomorrow. Take a break from them today and find a hilly route.
Different kind of burn
When you ascend a hill you’ll feel the burn much more than on regular runs, both in your legs and your lungs. Hill running is basically a form of resistance training, after all, so it takes more effort to from Point A to Point B than it does on a flat.
If you’re noticing that your local roads and trails are more packed with runners than usual, go to the steepest hill you can find. People generally don’t like running uphill, and the steeper the incline, the less likely there’ll be a lot of runners there. It’s the perfect way to ensure social distancing while getting a great workout in, uninterrupted.
If you want to give hill running a try but don’t know what to include in a workout, here’s a good start:
- Warm up as you normally would for 10 to 15 minutes (you can run on flat ground or hills, it doesn’t matter).
- Drills and four to six strides
- Main set: 8×1 minute uphill with jog/walk recovery back down. You can take more rest at the bottom of the hill if needed.
- Cool down for 10 to 15 minutes
You can do more repetitions or fewer, whatever you think is best for you.