Run like a gIrl Australia

Hill Running for Stronger Running

Written by coach Jen Delaney

Why do we run Hill Sessions?

Something I'm sure you all ask yourselves, perhaps grudgingly.

Put simply, we run hill sessions to build ourselves into STRONGER and FITTER runners - and not just on hills! In fact, improved running efficiency on the hills themselves is more of a bonus result of hill training rather than the main goal...

Running on hills is training against resistance, therefore hill repeats are a STRENGTH session. Unlike body weight movements or weight training, this strength session is completely RUNNING SPECIFIC. Sprinting up an incline challenges and strengthens our core, our quads, our hamstrings, our glutes, our hip flexors and our calves to stabilise and spring us not just forward but upward. It's this increased exertion that develops our athletic power to run faster and more economically on flat surfaces, too.

You're even conditioning your upper body by pumping your arms harder! Not to mention that a STRONG runner is an INJURY-RESISTANT runner.

Just like refining your running technique against any resistance (a headwind, high altitude), when that resistance is removed, you'll see how much faster you can fly.

Running repeats up a hill develops not just your muscle and tendon strength, but your overall running co-ordination - particularly a quicker and more robust stride, which you'll employ to increase your pace efforts on even ground and you'll sustain those efforts for longer without fatigue!

As I'm sure you'll all agree, maintaining a fast pace for your hill sessions requires not just your skeletal muscles but your heart and lungs to work harder, too. The result of which is improved CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS and AEROBIC CAPACITY (maximal use of oxygen during exercise) from regular hill training and you put those benefits to use every time you run, no matter what course or distance.

Additionally, holding your own on a hill climb is a huge psychological boost to your running confidence. While running uphill is initially intimidating and difficult (even impossible) to begin with, the more you practice and utilise your strength gains, the less scary and more satisfying a hill run becomes - not just in training sessions but events, too. That's why hill sessions feature in every training block, including Beginners.

In summary, hill running isn't something to dread or avoid. Running up hills is a pathway to improved running STRENGTH, SPEED, FITNESS, ENDURANCE and SELF-BELIEF - and who wouldn't want to put in the work to gain all of that.

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