Like most runners, the thought of hills probably makes you cringe, right? Well, as it turns out incorporating hills into your weekly routine can actually prevent injury and is safer than solely running on flat ground. It is important to incorporate different types of runs into your routine in order to improve your pace. This means you need to do long runs, slow runs, fartlek runs, tempo runs, and yes, hills.
RunnersConnect is a team of expert coaches and fellow runners—according to them running hill sprints is a good way to improve your pace, and make you an all-around more efficient runner by increasing the power and length of your stride. This enables you to cover more ground with each stride using less energy. Hill sprinting enhances neuromuscular fitness, which is the communication between the brain and the muscles. Stride frequency, stride length, and resistance to fatigue all depend on the efficiency of communication between the brain and muscles.
Hill sprints generate high leg turnover and enable you to push your body without actually running that fast. In other words, it is very similar to a speed workout on flat ground, but lessens the chance of an injury.
I’m sure ‘hill sprints’ sound a little intimidating, but we’re only talking about one to three 8-12 second bursts of fast running. After that, you get to rest for 2-3 minutes to make sure you are fully recovered before starting another one.
The hill doesn't have to be super steep either. It just needs to be between a 6 to 10% gradient, that’s only about a 3-6 degree incline.
So now that you have all the facts, here’s how to incorporate it into your workout:
- Start off with just one or two 8-second sprints on a 6-8% gradient
- Allow enough time to fully (2-3 minutes) recover in between each sprint—you want to give max effort for each sprint
- Do not try to do too much too soon
- Allow time for you to build up before doing several set-- the effort exerted during these sprints places a great amount of stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Make sure you do a proper warm up of an easy 1 or 2 miles and an appropriate cool down
- Two sessions a week are sufficient to see quick results
- Increase the number of sprints before increasing the duration
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