Improve your race performance with hill training

Running several miles a week without varying your workout will only take you so far when you are training for a race. Adding a hill workout once or twice a week will help to improve aerobic and muscular fitness, thus allowing you to improve your race pace and performance on the hills.  Hill training provides a strength workout for your lower body that assists in meeting the demands of running. Developement of stronger hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and glutes will benefit running performance.  Typically toward the end of a race the quadriceps begin to fatigue, thus making it difficult to lift the legs, however hill training will make them stronger and more resistant to fatigue. This type of training forces your muscles to overcome the resistance of gravity and incline. incorporating this type of training will also extend your lactic threshold or the ability for your muscle to withstand lactic acid build up.

As with any new changes in your fitness program it is best to add this work slowly. The most common way to integrate hill work is through hill repeats. Much like a speed workout this consists of  finding a hill and running up and down repeatedly. I would recommend starting out with a nice easy 15-20 minute warm up on a fairly flat route or one with slightly rolling hills. Your first hill interval should be done at slightly slower than a 10k pace. Remain consistent with your cadence and focus on using your arm swing and breath to help you up the hill. Do not stop at the top of the hill. Continue to run beyond the top of the hill, then turn around and jog back down to the bottom. The second repeat should be slightly faster than the first. The first hill workout should incorporate two to three repeats and an easy cool down. Keep in mind that you should alternate between workouts on steep short hills and longer gradual inclines. The gradual hills will provide the most improvement for longer distance races. Hill training will help to improve your running form as well as your race day endurance.

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