4 Benefits of Hill Workouts
This week our speed run takes us to the intersection of Taber and Freeman for a little hill workout. When I say little hill workout I mean a hill workout. Runners are always looking for a way to challenge themselves and become better runners. Hill workouts are a perfect way to do that, well lets take a look at 4 ways they can make you better.
Running up hills helps perfect your form. Plain and simple. “Inclines force you to drive your knees higher and land with your feet underneath you vs out in front of you” - Dr Jim Walker (Sports Science director at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital) As we know from our Good Form Running Clinic landing with you feet directly underneath you prevent excess force on your ankle, knee and hip joints. Running up hill can also help with ankle mobility and help develop strong calves. If you want better form run some hills.
Running hills can help build strength in three very important areas. They can help build cardiovascular strength by pushing that heart rate up quickly during training. It can also help build mental strength, we’ve all been in a race and happened upon a hill we didn’t know about, after a couple of these hill sessions that hill won’t slow you down. Running hills can also help build leg muscle, the benefits are tremendous. It builds strength in the calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes. This strength will translate into your ability to push yourself further into a race, you’re cardiovascular strength is better, your mental strength is better and your legs are literally stronger making you faster for longer.
Speaking of faster. The muscles your building are critical for running fast. Hitting the hill for short fast intervals, like our sessions will increase your speed. It’s not necessarily the hill contributing the speed, it’s your effort, keeping these workouts short and fast are key to building speed but putting them uphill is what builds endurance as well. When you’re running at those speeds your forced to recruit those fast twitch muscles and doing so up hill is a great way to replicate the hard effort needed at the end of race.
Practice Makes Perfect
We’re out here running these hills to become better runners, and a lot of the races we run are on the roads or trails and very few of them are on a track. Tracks are flat, roads and trails are not. How do we get better at running these trail and road races? By practicing running up hill. Chances are when you’re out there you’ll come across a few…the Jamestown Half comes to mind, Gaspee Days 5k anyone? These course are tough but we’re tougher because we know we can tackle any hill that comes in front of us.
Hills workouts are a necessary evil for us runners. While I typically won’t be running them at the workout with you, they are a staple in my training. When I’m into it, a few times a month you’ll see me sprinting up and down Jenkes or heading over to the east side for some snakes. These workouts are so important and cannot be overlooked!