My go-to love/hate workout when it comes to running is…hills! Running inclines forces your muscles to work harder with each step; as you work harder up the hills, your stride becomes more efficient and your overall speed improves once you’re back on flat land. I know myself personally used to skip hills (same with my friends) but if there’s one thing my highschool cross country coach taught me was embrace hills. It gives you that edge you need especially when a race course is hill-y (The Toronto Zoo Run… that was 10k with a bunch of little and big hills that I did no expect but luckily, my training kept me strong and allowed me to finish strong!) And passing people on hills is the best feeling in the world because guess what? You just destroyed a hill!
So why hills? Well it gives you variety, mimics the race course (unless you’re race is 100% flat), and it gives you a great butt! It’ll work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Hills help you build leg and lung power which will help you in the long run.
So here are some tips/tricks to help make hills more enjoyable!
Make sure your form is good!
As you go down, shorten your stride and keep your feet low to the ground. If your body is pulling back, trying to slow yourself down, keep your head, chest, and hips perpendicular to an imaginary horizontal line. Take short, quick, light steps (don’t let your feet slap the road) and keep your center of gravity over your legs.
When going up, pump your arms if you need help getting over the hills and remember, the faster you go, the quicker you get to the top! Keep your head and chest up, look straight ahead, shoulders back, and don’t hunch over!
If hills intimidate you, start small! When I first started, I did 1 hill that was one block long, then I moved onto 2, then 3, then bigger hills after that. If you only have 1 hill that’s huge, don’t worry! When I trained with my friend, we went to this HUGE hill where neither of us could finish but that’s okay. With big hills, even if you don’t finish, if you run the same one every time, you can use it as a gauge of where you stand – I started not being able to do 1/4 of the hill and built up to being able to do almost all of it! Having that gauge definitely made me feel better about my progress.
Best way to make sure you do it? Put it in your schedule. Seeing “Run Hills!” on my training plan reminded me not to skip it
Find a Friend!
If you have a friend, it makes times easier as you can take turns leading up (and having the other person chase you down). Funny story, I was told me and 2 other runners would be running hills at 6:00/k but we ended up doing it 5:00/k. Why? At the end, one of the runners turned to the other and asked, her response was that she wouldn’t have gone that fast without him there because she was trying to challenge him! I was just collateral damage ): haha, man was I exhausted after that. But what if you don’t have a friend? I usually chase other people running the runs or set mini time goals and try to reach them.
And don’t forget to rest afterwards! 🙂