hills seems simple: you power over the top and continue,
right? Once you’ve tried a few hill training sessions,
or find yourself suddenly running uphill in a race, you’ll
realize there’s an art to it. Here’s how to
maximize your hill training by running both up and down
effectively and efficiently, without getting hurt.
climbs at sustainable paces
Studies show many runners tackle hills too quickly at
the outset, dashing up a long climb at a greater effort
than they can maintain. If you’re running a hill
sprint workout, this is fine, but in any other circumstance
you want to run at an even, sustainable pace. You risk
burning energy you won’t be able to regain later
in the race or workout if you run full-tilt up every hill
Aim to find a hill that takes you 10 minutes
or longer to run up (or set your treadmill incline to
the point where you feel a burn, but can smoothly keep
pace). Try to mimic the effort you would be expending
if you were running on flat terrain, regardless of how
slowly it feels like you’re going. If your breathing
is noticeably heavier, slow down.
Use ‘long strides’
at the top to transition
If you run too quickly up a hill, you may find yourself
pausing at the top or slowing down greatly to catch your
breath before resuming your normal pace. You’ll
also have a shorter stride as you head uphill, and it
takes a conscious effort to switch back to your regular
Cue yourself to open up your stride and
accelerate. For practice, find a short hill that takes
under a minute to reach the top of. Run hard to the top,
lengthen your stride and pick up your pace for 15 seconds.
Jog down the hill to recover, and repeat five to 10 times.
Practice good running form on
the way down
You’ve probably seen others run downhill at full
speed–if you’re a person who can comfortably
and safely do that, you’re lucky. For most of us,
downhill running is a skill to practice. You want to avoid
putting on the brakes too much, but you also don’t
want to be pounding down the hill or running out of control.
After your regular run, add in four to
six 100-metre strides down a slope, or a gentle hill with
a grade you are comfortable tweaking your speed on. Shorten
your stride, keep your arms wide and low for balance,
and aim to run smoothly with quick steps. If you find
your breathing quiets, you can push a little bit harder.
Over time, find steeper hills to run down while maintaining
the same form.