Even if your next race is on relatively flat terrain, you will encounter a hill at some point. Hill training is the best leg strengthening exercise for any type of running. By doing a regular series of hill workouts you can develop the foot and leg adaptations needed for running various types of hills.
With the added strength from hill training, you can adjust to an efficient stride, run more efficiently, and reduce wear and tear on the muscles at the end of all runs. You’ll also improve your hill running technique in races. The hill training workouts are not designed to result in exhaustion. They should gently introduce the feet, legs, and cardiovascular system to uphills and downhills, while improving muscle strength and running efficiency.
Hill Running Concepts
1. Keep the effort level and breathing rate consistent and conversational as you approach a hill.
2. Touch lightly as you go up the hill. (Many trail runners walk up most or all hills.)
3. If you insert running segments when going uphill, reduce stride length as you run up to maintain resiliency in the leg muscles.
4. Reduce stride to “baby steps” when needed on steep hills or long hills— OR WALK.
5. Monitor effort by breathing rate—try to maintain the same breathing pattern as on the flat.
6. Stay smooth when running up and running down a hill.
7. Let gravity pull you down the hill—as you touch lightly with a relatively short stride.
8. Let cadence or turnover increase as you run down—without a great increase in stride length.
9. Watch for trail hazards constantly and walk through them.
10. Don’t overstride!
Learn More and find out about the best trails in the US in Jeff’s book America’s Best Places To Run