Why should I run up that hill??!?
You know the feeling – you’re running at a moderately quick pace, feeling like you have at least another half hour in you when you look straight ahead at a menacing hill looming in the distance. Do you go running up that hill or do you take a sneaky detour?
You decide to brave the hill but in five minutes you’re winded and ready to throw in the towel.
We all hate hills, but it’s time to embrace the apathy and realise something important: Hill running poses a ton of excellent benefits for runners looking to improve their cardiac output!
Let’s break down all the potential benefits that hill running can bring to long-distance runners, sprinters, casual runners, or even athletes performing sports that require a ton of running.
Benefits of Hill Running
Here are a few of the benefits you’ll get:
- Improved endurance
- Increased speed
- Increased power
- Better running economy
- Enhance overall strength
Amongst other things, hill running promotes endurance.
How? – Because of the variety and intensity of running up hills – not all hills are steep and some last longer than others. If you read this article, it’ll take you through all of the different types of hill workouts.
This makes it a perfect fit for a long-distance runner’s workout regimen; insert a couple days of hill-runs during your training for a big race!
Potential Speed Increase
That’s right – sprint hills and see a potential increase in your overall speed.
It’s because hill sprints strengthen your running muscles, improve your running efficiency, and increase the power of your stride.
This phenomenon occurs because of gravity; the increased load on your legs during a hill sprint requires your body to recruit more muscles than it normally would for a similar movement.
Consequently, your muscles will be better prepared for a hard sprint on flat ground, like the end of an important race!
As you’re running up that hill, you’re pushing against gravity, which is why it’s hard work. The hill encourages you to bring your knees forwards more, to help push you up that hill. If you aim to run at your normal step-rate but decrease stride length, this helps keep your momentum.
Going against gravity and working on your speed will both improve your power. This will then make it easier to run on the flat.
Improved Running Economy
You’ll be working your body that much harder when running uphill – as we’re sure you’ll notice!
As you’re making your body work so much harder, it’s having to bring more oxygen to the muscles. Exercising in this way will improve the economy of the cardiovascular system, again making it feel that much easier on the flat.
Improving overall strength
Power and strength go hand in hand. You’ll be able to improve your overall strength by running up hills. As we mentioned above, you’re using gravity to give you a good workout.
The harder you work your muscles the more you’ll be working on the strength of your muscles.
Check out our other blog post about what exercises will help with improving power and strength for running.
Running on Flat Ground Has Never Been Easier!
Relating to our previous points, running hills makes running on a normal or relatively normal incline feel like nothing.
If you do hills often enough, you might end up pushing yourself harder on flat pavement.
This, obviously, sets the stage for quicker runs in shorter amounts of time – cue improving your personal best.
Hills Aren’t Only Uphill
You have to go down, at some point.
Downhill running, while not as obviously beneficial as uphill running, is a great workout for your abdomen and your quadriceps. Going downhill will make the muscles work hard as they’re slowing down, and having to work against gravity. This is another way to build up muscle strength.
Instead of resting on the downhill portion, try giving it your all.
Don’t Skip Running up that Hill!
They can be gruelling.
They can disrupt the harmony of a peaceful long-distance run.
Overall, however, the benefits of hill running outweigh the mental detriments one might experience from them.
Find a hill and watch your runs turn around for the better!
If you’re more personal advice on your running, then book an appointment with one of our physios, who will give you more specific exercises relating to your own circumstances.