Now, onto my Running Top-10 — #3 — HILLS.
Yes, HILLS…in all capital letters! I believe they are that important, so important that I believe you can include some hill component in your running throughout the entire year!
- As Frank Shorter once said, “They are speed work in disguise.” Hills, in my opinion, are the very best muscular strength workout that a runner can do. It’s literally a running specific muscular strength exercise that you cannot mimic in the weightroom.
- They decrease the risk of injury. I’m not assigning hill sprints here, though you could include them…I’m talking strong uphill running either as repetitions or within a distance run. Hills force you into a better, more natural running form, and reduce the pounding of your joints while running uphill.
- I believe that the aerobic fitness benefits are just as big as the muscular strength benefits. You can get a better aerobic workout, at a slower pace, while running over a hilly course than you can if you were doing the same run over a flat course.
To me, it’s a no-brainer, HILLS within a training program will help you build the aerobic and muscular strength you need to run and race faster.
So, how do I assign them?
For the athletes that I coach there are two distance hill workouts that we do. The first is simply hill repetitions of 1 minute (or up to 400 meters in length). The goal is to do 8-16 repetitions of running strong uphill and then jogging back downhill easily before starting again. For my master’s athletes and sub-elites, I tend to schedule hill repetitions every other week, with 200 meter cruise repeats being the alternate work (but more on those later).
The second hill workout that we’ll do is a hilly long run. Typically on every long run, unless we are in a taper period or doing some sort of marathon specific long run, I will encourage my athletes to run over a hilly course. The goal on this run is to not find Mount Everest, but to just run your regular long run distance over a course with rolling hills. My encouragement is to try to maintain the same effort over the hills that you do on the flats.
There’s so much more that could be written about HILLS, but I’ll leave you with this…next week go out and do a 15 minutes (or 2 mile) warm up, followed by some running form drills, and a few snappy strides, then try 8 x 1 minute hill repeats with an easy jog down recovery. Start easy enough on the first few reps that you can get faster throughout the workout. When you finish do an easy 15 minutes (or 2 mile) cool down. See how you feel afterwards. I am willing to bet you’ll think it’s a great session.
As always, if you have any questions, or are interested in finding a coach for this new year, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.