Let’s talk Hill Repeats
By Advanced Run Coach Lydia Palmieri
It is not breaking news, that if you want to improve strength and speed, run hills. It most of our Running Divas Intermediate programs you will find hill repeats on your program. So why do we do hill repeats and how do we do them effectively.
Running hill repeats, either on a hill outdoors or on a treadmill, is a form of resistance training that builds up the muscles in your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Hill running strengthens those areas more than running on flat ground. You’ll also strengthen your hip flexors and Achilles tendons.
The muscles you’ll use to run up hills are the same ones used for sprinting, so the strength you build will improve your speed. Hill repeats are an excellent workout for speed, strength, confidence, and mental endurance. While no two hills are identical for distance and incline, the workout is simple.
While we can add intensity by speeding up on our runs, hills offer a way to do it at the same speed. You will feel your heart rate, respiration, and probably your perspiration, go up when you start uphill. While you might not often achieve a speed where you are near your limit, you may be able to so more easily with a hill.
As you strengthen your leg muscles through hill running, you may reduce the risk of suffering from running-related injuries. You will have trained your muscles to perform at different levels of incline. Then, when they are challenged, they are more ready to meet it rather than be strained.
Building Confidence and Mental Strength
The more you run hills, the less intimidating they’ll seem when you encounter them on a race course. Your improved strength and technique on the hills will definitely give you a confidence boost when you’re racing. You’ll feel a lot more mentally prepared for hills knowing that you’ve practiced them during training.
Strengthening the Upper Body
Uphill running forces you to drive your arms harder than you do when running on flat ground, so you’ll improve your upper body strength. If you don’t have easy access to hills outside or on a treadmill, you can get similar benefits from a stair workout.
Although hills come in all different lengths and degrees of incline, the basic concept of a hill repeat is usually the same. You run up the hill fast and then recover by jogging or walking down.
How To Run Hill Repeats
- Look for a hill that’s between 100 to 400 meters long. You want the incline to be enough to test you, but not so tough that you won’t be able to maintain your good running form.
- Before you get started, make sure you warm up. Try to plan it so that you get about 10-15 minutes of slow jogging in before you reach the bottom of the hill.
- Don’t stare at your feet. But you also don’t want to look way up to the top of the hill, especially if it’s a really long or steep hill. Focus on the ground ahead of you. This will help you stay mentally focused on the hill.
- Start running up the hill at your 5K effort pace. You’ll want to try to push yourself hard up the hill, but don’t let your form totally fall apart. Try to keep a consistent effort up the hill.
- Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle and should be moving forward and back (rotating at the shoulder), not side to side.
- Your back should be straight and erect. You can lean in very slightly from the hips, but make sure you’re not hunched over.
- Concentrate on swinging your arms lower and shorter. Your arms will help power you up the hill. By keeping your arm swing lower and quicker, your legs will stay lower to the ground — resulting in a short, quick stride.
- When you reach the top of your hill, your legs should feel heavy. Turn around and recover by easy jogging or walking down the hill.
- Your number of repeats depends on your experience and fitness level. You should start with 4 repeats, adding as your program progresses and your fitness level increases.
- Advanced runners can start with six repeats and add another one each week, with a maximum of ten repeats.
- When doing hill training, don’t do hill repeats more than once a week. Try mixing up the hills you try –- some short and steep, and other longer ones with a smaller incline.
Hope these tips help.