Don’t see hill running as the enemy - it can really help you

The start of Pendle Hill

The start of Pendle Hill

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We are finally in the throes of summer and many people are lacing up their running trainers and heading out and about in the longer days.

We are lucky enough to live in and around some of our nation’s most beautiful scenery and national parks. The local area offers us such a diverse range of different training environments which other areas cannot match and can only dream of. Rolling countryside with all the choice of terrain, gradient and undulation you could ever wish for.

Ryan Donohue, owner of Fitness Formation.

Ryan Donohue, owner of Fitness Formation.

Yet many of us stick to the boring old roads around the town or city and rarely venture off the beaten track. This week’s column is all about hill training and the benefits it can give us in readiness for an event or race day.

Some see hills as the enemy. Some see them as an obstacle put in their way to destroy any hope they had of posting their best race timing. They sap your energy, give you a feeling that your lungs are about to burst, and put strain on your body.

As much as the above is true, we should all embrace them and stand up to the challenge they present to us because they will make you stronger, increase your stride length, develop your cardiovascular fitness and protect your legs against muscle soreness. Hill training can increase also running economy by two to three per cent.

Here’s a scenario for you to consider. Turning a corner or looking ahead, and see the hill looming in front of you. You need to focus. As you hit the hill shorten your stride. Don’t try to maintain the same pace as you run on the flat. Look at maintaining the effort and not the pace. Remain upright. Don’t lean forward or back. If you’re breathing becomes shallower, you are likely to be running too fast. Don’t slow as you reach the crest. Run through the top of the hill.

On the way down, you need to maintain a good posture. As your speed increases, open your stride a little longer than normal, but try to emphasise a quicker turnover. Most importantly, you need to remain in control. Consider introducing intervals into your hill training days. Use a certain hill or feature and perform short intervals. These will benefit you come race day. Don’t fear the peak. Run through the top of it. Have a great training week.