If you haven’t checked out Part 1 of incline training, be sure to check it out
Part 2: The benefits of incline training
If you ask me, running hills is harder mentally than it is physically. I approach a hill and I already know it’s going to kick my butt. It becomes a scene like The Little Engine that Could as my lungs catch on fire and my quads turn into rocks.
Running hills requires your body to recruit more muscle fibers, causing muscles to fatigue faster. It has similar benefits of weight training since you’re using the quads, glutes, hammies and calves to basically lift you up the hill. There is also less distance for your foot to fall before it hits the ground, so you don’t have as much of a boost from the tendons when you push off as you would on a flat surface. Hill running is painfully tough, but the body starts to adjust and you gain stronger, faster legs. There are other added perks like burning more calories, improving your cardio endurance, and shaving a few seconds (or minutes) off of your race time.
“Swedish researchers found that marathoners who ran hills for 12 weeks improved their running economy by 3 percent. This translates to a 2-minute reduction in your 10-mile time and 6 minutes off a marathon—without exerting any more effort in the race.”
If you want to try incline training, a treadmill provides the easiest way to set up a workout since all you have to do is push a button to change your hill setting. However, if you want to train outside, a simple up-and-down method is a good way to start incline training. It involves running up a hill for 30 seconds at a an intensity of about 7 out of 10 and then jogging lightly back down for 30 seconds and repeating the same routine one or two more times. If you want something easier, just sprint for 10 seconds each time you hit a hill and take a minute to catch your breath before you hit the next hill.
Don’t forget about your form! Maintaining good form is very important when incline training. Run through this 4-point check list from Runners World to make sure you have the right form.
1. DRIVE HARD WITH YOUR ARMS.
Increase your arm swing as if you’re pulling yourself quickly up a rope
2. PRESS FORWARD WITH YOUR HIPS.
As you run up, think about pressing your hips into the hill to avoid bending at the waist.
3. RUN WITH HIGH KNEES.
This will help increase your stride rate and further help you maintain good posture.
4. SPRING UP FROM YOUR TOES.
Push off your toes to create an upward lift that will help propel you forward.
Do you have any races coming up this summer? Are you using incline training to prepare for the race?