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Is winter the best time to train hills?

In the winter, your muscles can regulate their temperature better

Hills are known to increase the difficulty or the intensity of a run, but they can naturally increase your heart rate, improving both your anaerobic and aerobic capacity. They are used by a majority of runners as a form of speedwork since hills can match the heart rate level of a race or high-intensity track workout.

Running hills in the summer can be counterintuitive, as your heart rate will not only rise from the difficulty of the hill but your muscles will warm up quicker, requiring two to four times as much blood per minute on a warm day. In the winter, your muscles can regulate their temperature better, meaning you can often do more and perform faster and farther.

When you run hills, your heart works harder to pump more blood throughout your body. Your heart rate goes up the more you push yourself, and will dramatically decrease once you finish the workout or are in a resting or walking state. In the winter, your muscles will take longer to warm up, as long as you don’t overdress. It is still important to sustain your effort on the first couple of hill reps to warm up your heart. Avoid all-out sprinting on your first rep, so your heart rate doesn’t spike.

4 tips for winter speedwork

Since there aren’t many racing opportunities in the winter, adding hills into your training regime can help you build speed, so you’ll be prepared for the flats in the spring. Hills can also improve endurance, cadence and overall strength, and should make a weekly or bi-weekly appearance in your training schedule all year round.

Do you need to drink electrolytes in the winter?

If you have an interval or an outdoor track workout on your training schedule on a snowy day, try substituting it with hills when the footing is poor. Take your interval time and use it on a nearby hill, or if you have trouble finding an incline, try these tips to simulate a hill workout.