As a runner, you probably often looking for a good running place around nature. Most of the time in your mind this “perfect spot” is flat and fast for running. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I want to give you another perspective. What about going to a hilly place and do your run there? It might not sound so exciting but wait until you hear the benefits of hill running. Running uphill can make you a faster and stronger runner for numerous reasons. Plus, running up a hill will help you look slimmer because you will be burning much more calories in comparison to running on a flat surface. Thus, if you want to speed up your weight loss, if this is what you are looking for, consider doing some hill work as well.
Why running uphill? Let’s take a look and see what are the benefits of hill work and why we should implement it in our routine! But before that, let me tell you my personal story about hill running. I won’t lie- I adore running up a hill. It tests my strength and mind, and I love challenges. But there is so much more beyond my love of hill running. It actually helped me become the runner who I am today so many times. Before my first medal from the European XC championship, I spent a couple of months at a high altitude where almost every single run involved some hill climbing. Moreover, around twice a week, I would go and climb one very steep hill in the mountain as a special part of my preparation. It was worth it! At the European XC Championship, I was able to move from 4th to 2nd (just 2 seconds behind the winner) at the last 400m, which was a gradual hill. Before that 400 m, I was more than 12 seconds behind the first woman. But all the hill work made my legs so strong, that I felt very comfortable sprinting uphill like it was downhill.
Before my 5000m personal best on the track, I had 3 months of hill work and very few track workouts. Although some coaches believe you have to stay on the track, if you are going to race on the track, I believe mixing track workouts with the same workouts but on the hilly surface, it is much more beneficial. I’ve always run better if we had preparation involving hills work at least twice a week.
Here we will discuss why this might be the case:
1. Hill running improves your muscle strength
When you are running up a hill, gravity plays a huge role. This is the reason why it so much harder to run uphill. Your legs carry your body “in a different way”(simply said- like you are four times heavier 🙂 ) because they have to overcome gravity and your muscles use more power to keep moving. It is kind of a form of resistance training. For this reason, if you start adding hill sessions to your running program, your legs will be forced to get stronger and your muscles will become more powerful than they used to.
2. Hill running improves your speed
Have you ever wonder why sprinters always do hill work in their routine? Well, because it helps them to develop not only their power but also their speed. When you run hills, you use the same muscles that you use when you are sprinting. Your calves, hamstring, glutes, and quads work extra during hill running and they become stronger and powerful. This translates to a better speed, so think again if you haven’t started doing our Vitesse Running hill workouts!
3. More hills= more calories burned=greater weight-loss
If you want to burn more calories, without having to speed up your run, you can just go uphill. Even if you run at the same speed as if you were running on a flat surface, you will increase significantly the calories you burn while running. Running uphill adds intensity and your heart rate goes up. This means your body works harder and therefore it will need more energy to perform the work. If your body needs more energy, this means you are burning more calories!
4. Mental booster
Running uphill is challenging. It is hard, tiring and it leaves you often with a specific soreness. It’s like a barrier that you need to overcome. Overcoming barriers make us stronger. In this case, could be not only physically but mentally as well. Many runners would avoid uphills and give up on them later on when they race. People get passed so often exactly at those hilly segments in the races. Use hills workouts to become mentally stronger and not only avoid being passed on hills while you race but also become one of these runners who pass others there!
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