What is Hill Training and
How do you do it?
Hill training is a form of speed training that my coach taught me to love while training for the San Francisco marathon.
After a couple of months of running up and down the hills of Central Park once a week, while he cheered us on taunting, "We love hills, right!" He emailed us each a certificate saying we had passed the hill training portion of the course. And wow did we earn that certificate!
But when we started out, or I can only speak for myself, so when I started out I did NOT love hills.
What is Hill Training?
Basically hill training is this, you pick a hill, and you run up and down it seven or eight times. Some days you pick a short, steep hill. Other days you pick a long, less steep hill. Other days you pick a moderate hill.
Some days you run more than seven or eight times. Some days you pick a long hill and you run up and down four or five times and that's all you can do. Sound fun?
Well, I will try to make it fun for you. Here I will give you a few reasons why you will love hills, then I will give you some pointers on how to train on these hills without wearing yourself out.
Three Reasons to Love Hills
1) The more variety of terrain you run on, the better off you are, and the better off your body is because you are not working out the same exact muscles over and over again as you would if you only trained on straight, flat land.
Besides, it's good to be prepared for anything right? Unless the race you're running on is all flat, you're going to want to be prepared for the variety of terrain you will probably run into, come race day.
2) Hills are great for toning the legs, especially those thighs and butts that so many of us struggle to control. Practice hill training one or two days a week and you'll get into shape fast!
3) Physically, and definitely psychologically, training on hills is equivalent to way more mileage than the same thing on flat ground. i.e. if you are training sixteen miles on hills, it is like doing eighteen-twenty miles on flat ground.
Tips for Hill Training
Do about a mile warm up and cool down.
Before running up and down the hill, it is good to do about a ten minute warm up on flatter ground at a moderate pace. Then do the same to cool down after running up and down the hill.
"Don't waste your energy."
That's what our coach always said. Well unless you're just trying to run up the hill and burn as many calories as possible and get your tone on. If that's what you're going for, by all means, pick up those feet as high as they'll go, swing those arms and march up that hill with as much energy as you can muster.
But if you're training for a longer race like a half or full marathon, you learn to conserve energy, by taking small steps and swinging your arms in small motions, starting from your sides and bringing your elbows back, say about 30-60 degrees, all the while keeping the shoulders relaxed.
Keep an erect posture.
It's very easy to lean forward while laboring up the hill. However, this will contribute to a very sore lower back later on. So as you are running up that hill, think, am I standing up straight, and then stand up a little straighter.
Running up a hill, should not put you out of breath. If you are following the two tips above, this should come somewhat naturally, but if it doesn't, slow down a little.
That's always my modo. If you're not having fun, you're not going to keep at it for very long, so don't turn it into a chore.
Yes pushing yourself is great, and definitely some days you have to force yourself out there when you're not feeling it, but be sure to enjoy yourself too.
Watch the butterflies, enjoy being out there with other runners, don't feel bad if some are faster than you, don't be rude and look down on the slower runners. Sure be a little competitive. But all in good fun! Be healthy. Be happy!