DIFFERENT HILL SESSIONS HAVE DIFFERENT BENEFITS Running hills as a training tactic to boost race performance seems to pop up rather frequently in advice to competitors. Articles on the topic generally describe different types of hill workouts. Before reading Jeff Gaudette’s piece “Hit the Hills, Reap the Benefits” for running.competitor.com, I thought any hill workout would help me be faster running or walking a hilly race course. That any would make me stronger and aerobically fitter. Likely this is the first article I read carefully enough, but the point has been lost on me until now. Gaudette describes just 3 hill workouts and the specific benefits of performing each.
Below is a glimpse into what he says in the article. To get full benefit of the coach’s expert advice, read the entire piece.
Short Explosive Sprints: Gaudette is careful in emphasizing the purpose of this drill. Specifically, that it is not designed to build fitness. Physiologically it won’t make you a better hill runner either. “These types of hill sprints are designed to activate and improve the function of the neuromuscular system and increase maximal stroke volume in the heart.”
Long Hill Repeats: This traditional hill workout does build strength and aerobic fitness says Gaudette. It is “fantastic for improving VO2max and increasing muscle strength” and can “almost” be considered a “form of strength training”, he says in the article. For those who tend to keep putting off formal strength sessions, hill training may be a way to sneak some muscle building work into a training schedule. But, he warns, repeated long hill workouts won’t make you faster in a race with a hilly course
Rolling Hills: This workout, Gaudette indicates, IS THE ONE THAT WILL ‘REAP BENEFITS’ on race day if tackling hills is required. If looking to improve your ability to master hills on race day, “incorporating rolling hills into your threshold and long runs is the best solution.”
If interested in hill repeats, check out Gaudette’s short article to find which one of 3 he describes might suit your purpose
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
[WALKERS: It’s not clear whether performing these workouts walking will translate to the same outcomes as running. Certainly, the intensity of effort will be increased. ]
[NO HILLS? Some of us live in places where hills of different sizes and grade are difficult to find. Check out the OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO page for some assistance. Parking structure ramps can provide a kind of hills workout. Treadmills inclines can be increased for this purpose.
Runners in flat locations have reported that the sides of hills that form highway entrance and exit ramps can work, but safety could be a huge issue. However, perhaps this bit of information will help brainstorm the problem. In downtown Cleveland, I found a I-90 entrance ramp that had an adjacent sidewalk, separated from traffic by a low wall that was safe.
Another possible ‘hill’: large urban sports stadiums which have built ramps to replace stairs, to enable barrier-free fan access to topmost seating sections]
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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