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Running Tips

How to run hills properly?

Hills are a wonderful way to add some resistance to your training. When you overcome resistance to your training, your muscles get stronger and the intensity of your training increases. Runners have used hills for decades as a way to increase endurance, strength and speed.

The hill used for training should be 400–600 m in length and should have an incline of 6–8%. Prior to starting the hill session, be sure that you have warmed up and are relaxed and moving fluidly. If after your warm-up you still feel fatigued from the previous day, do not do the hill session. This high-quality session should only be done when you are fully ready to work hard.

    Proper Hill Form
  • Begin your journey up. Try to maintain the same stride frequency as you would on flat ground; shorten it as you adjust to the grade.
  • Don't forget to swing your arms. Although your arms don't actually propel you up the hill, they can be important to maintain proper form and leg speed. Your arms are always in rhythm with your legs. When you find your leg turnover slowing near the top, pump your arms a little faster and your legs will be sure to follow.
  • As you run, be sure to keep your posture erect, rather than leaning too far forward. Try to look parallel to the surface of the hill. In doing this, an amazing thing happens: the hill appears to flatten and is not as tough as if you looked up with your eyes while keeping your head down.
  • Concentrate on good form and increase the rhythm of your arms slightly as you near the crest of the hill. Push over the crest.
  • Keep your chest up and out. Keep your breathing relaxed.
  • Think of the power coming from your legs; they are strong and efficient. The key is to maintain the same effort as you go up the hill. Your speed will slow slightly and increase again as you reach the crest of the hill. Keep the same effort at the crest and walk past the top before turning around.
  • Never stop once you have reached the top. Continue a slow jog or a walk. This hill training is pretty intense. By continuing to keep moving, you will enhance your recovery and be ready sooner for your next repeat.
  • Start with four hill repeats and increase by one repeat each successive week, working up to a maximum of 12 repeats. After a hill session, allow at least two days of recovery before you attempt another quality workout.

Downhill Running

A good number of runners make running downhill difficult and risk injury by leaning back and putting on the brakes as they run down the hill. Here is a tip to improve your running times and reduce the risk of injury; gravity is your training buddy. With a slight lean down the hill, gravity will pick up your pace with no additional effort. Many runners lean back into the hill, but doing so takes more effort and is slower.

Open your stride slightly, lean forward and away you go with your new training buddy. Come race day the experience of the hill sessions pays big dividends as you pass runners not only on the uphills but at the crest and on the downhills as well.

Intensity

For those using their target heart rate, intensity is 80% of maximum heart rate. If you are not using heart rate as your gauge of intensity, then pace yourself so that you are running up the hill as fast as you can without having to stop and rest. Always rest for at least as long as it takes to run up the hill or until your heart rate is below 120 bpm. Rest is part of your training.

Be careful if you are doing the hill session with a group. Remember, it is not a race but a quality workout. Run to the hill and do the warm-up with the group, but the hill is yours alone to conquer at your own speed. Hills are magic stuff if treated with respect and some common sense.

A once-a-week investment in the "visually flat" hill session will make you a better athlete both mentally and physically?

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