Running hills regularly is one sure fire way to improve your marathon result and almost all aspects of your running performance. Regular hill workouts will give you gains in strength, speed, endurance and injury prevention. Every runner will benefit from running hills no matter whether you started running last week or are a seasoned veteran.
Hills are a member of the three key sessions we recommend runners run each week. If you want to be a self coached runner and keep your training cycle simple, run a focused hill, interval and a long run each week mixed with aerobic recovery runs.
Whilst most marathons are run on flat courses designed to offer runners a chance at a fast time, the benefits from regular hills give you the chance to improve even further.
We are here to talk about hills today and why they should be a regular part of your training schedule. There are many ways to add hill running specifics into your runs but three simple and easy to additions are;
- Hill sprints – Short explosive effort uphill followed by a downhill walk recovery. These are usually 10-15 second efforts and can be included at the end of an aerobic run.
- Hill repeats – Run the hill with a focus on a medium hard effort followed by a recovery run down the hill. Varying the length, gradient and number of repeats can add variety to this session.
- Hilly Tempo runs – Choose a hilly terrain and run a focussed tempo session over a hilly terrain for 45-60 minutes. To aide recovery during the run you can run the uphills harder then the downhills.
Running hills regularly builds leg strength specific to running which helps every aspect of your running. This gives you benefits of speed and endurance that are vital to improving your performance over every distance. Being stronger gives you a better chance to avoid injury.
If you are training for an upcoming marathon you should be running a hill repeat or hilly tempo at least weekly, particularly in the early phase of the training when you are building strength and your aerobic base fitness. Later in your program you may want to run sessions more specific to your goal race, but for at least the first eight weeks hills should be a weekly part of your life.
If you want to make hills part of your training schedule commit one day each week for hills. If you are new to hills start with hill sprints at the end of a run. When you feel ready add a more challenging specific hill session to your week, to start pick an easier hill for repeats before moving to steeper or longer hills. This session may just become your favourite session of the week.