Why is hill training so important?

You might deliberately go out of your way to avoid hills when you go out running. But face them head on and you will not only improve your running but may even learn to love them too…


Hopefully, you haven’t read the end of that sentence and turned off. ‘Learn to love hills? Are you crazy?!’

But really, hills are a great running workout because you can usually see how far  you have to run to reach the top, meaning that you can psychologically prepare, grit your teeth and keep pushing until you have summited. Result? A great sense of achievement. Even if you are doing hill repeats and have to do it again. And again.

But those results are just the psychological ones, the real impact is how much hills supercharge and improve your running. Here’s how…

* Running up hill forces the muscles in you hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract more powerfully than usual because they have to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. And more power means faster strides.

* Better running efficiency. While it is, of course, possible to slouch and shuffle you way up a hill, bent over at the waist, if you choose a hill of a length suited to your fitness, it means your posture and running technique tend to improve compared to on the flat. This is because you HAVE to push off your mid foot if you are exerting more effort and you naturally swing your arms, all techniques that should be used by everyone all the time, on the flat too.

* You learn to take shorter strides and pick up your knees. Because if you don’t, you’ll fall over as you scuff and trip over you feet as you go up the hill.

* Your leg muscles and ligaments and tendons get stronger. This is because your feet have to come into contact with the floor more often to push your body forward because of the incline. Result? Exertion of more force, resulting in a greater impact on muscle tone.

If you want to learn to run hills, and do it in a group to help motivate you, join our Run for the Hills six week course which begins on Thursday October 29th.  Suitable for anyone as long as you can run 5km. For more details and prices click here.