It is nearly impossible to step outside your door in Delaware County, Pa. and not have to traverse a hill. In fact, one of the beauties of our area is that we average 316.71 feet above sea level. There is a spot on School House lane in Glen Mills, Pa. that you can see into Philadelphia, it’s an amazing view. But with all of these hills and scenic views, are some runners deterred by the harshness of the terrain. The answer is yes and the why…it’s hard. But if you approach it with the right mindset, the benefits will pay off. Remember March is a big running month.
Training on hills really can benefit your overall running program. Hills running is interval training and there are many benefits to interval training. Mentally, Hill running….
- Increases your aerobic capacity, this enables you to use less oxygen which will enable you to increase your distance.
- Improves your stamina, again enables you to run further distance.
- Builds strength in your gluteals (buttock), quadriceps (front of thigh), and upper and lower calf muscles.
- You will get faster. The same muscle groups that benefit from hills are the same muscles used for sprinting.
- You will strengthen your upper body. Running up hills forces you to pump your arms harder.
- Reduce risk of injury. The body is becoming stronger and you are becoming more confident.
Physically hill running….
- Improves your stride length from running up hills and stride frequency by running down hills.
- Improves your concentration and focus on running form.
- Improves your confidence: the more you conquer the hills on your route the more success you experience. The physical improvements will give confidence when on the field, court, rink and in the water.
- You won’t get bored. Too much to do and too much to think about when navigating hills.
Map out your route before you begin. This will help mentally, as you will know what to expect. Choose both long and short hills in your route. Long hills will help with endurance, while short hills help with sprint speed and anaerobic capacities. Run with your eyes focused several feet in front of you. Always look where you are going but do not focus on the height and length of the hill, as this will potentially psyche you out.
Concentrate on Form
- Maintain effort level when approaching a hill which will translate into a slower pace to navigate the hill. You do not want to hit it too hard and be forced to have to break at the top.
- Maintain good running form, arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle, relaxed, and moving back and forth, helping you move forward. Do not move arms side to side, as this will only through off your center and ruin your running form, which leads to injuries.
- Keep your back straight but lean slightly into the hills(both up and down hills). Down hill runs should have quick and short strides. Do not take huge leaping steps and try braking yourself. This will just lead to unnecessary pounding on the legs.
- As you reach the top concentrate on resuming normal stride again.
Embraced these beautiful outdoors and conquer hills with an appreciation of what they will do for you mentally and physically.