By Darren Croft
Running up hills – could it be part of your exercise routine? There are certain parts of my running training that I really enjoy. Long runs is one of them and the other is hill running.
Maybe it’s childhood memories of running up hills near my home that starts the butterflies. It’s certainly not the pleasure of gasping for breath as I reach the final repetition on a steep incline.
There’s little doubt that hill runs are great for strengthening and running economy. If you include hills in your mix of weekly or monthly training runs, you’ll soon start reaping the benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, running uphill will help to prevent injury, assuming you’re not overdoing it or running through pain. This is because there’s less of an impact. It’s about sheer strength. It’ll work your posterior chain muscles and not put too much strain on the places where injuries are most likely to occur, such as your shins.
Both uphill and downhill training sessions will help to strengthen your muscles to increase leg speed. Downhill runs will really help get your quads in fantastic shape.
Does it burn more calories than running on the level? Yes, it does. The more intense your workout and the steeper the incline, the more you’ll burn.
What’s more, as a bonus it also helps to strengthen your upper body more than running on a level service, as you are working your arms much harder. And as if they couldn’t do enough for us, they’ll also help to raise your VO2 max level too. With regular hill training, you’ll find you can run further without getting out of breath so quickly.
Another reason to try both uphill and downhill running is for variation. You’ll be working new muscles harder and the more you mix it up, the better your all-round performance will be.
Examples of hill workouts are repetitions of around 60-90 seconds uphill, with a jog recovery downhill. Or you can find a really long hill and try a few minutes at a time.
Uphill running is great for building up endurance too as it’s a form of resistance training. It’ll build up your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes and is a great alternative to a gym workout. So, if you’re more of a fan of the outdoors, this is the workout for you!
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