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.
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.
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?