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When putting together your running schedule hill runs are rarely at top of the page. They’re tough, they’re rough and yet they are brilliant at helping you boost your performance and your fitness.

First of all, try to remember that you don’t need to go travel to the highest hill in your area and torture yourself trying to get to the top. Even the slightest rise in gradient can make a difference and it makes sense to increase these gradually.

How much you get from your run will depend on you and your individual goals, for example, you can alter the length of your run, the number of reps and of course, choose how steep a hill run is for you.

When to Include Hill Runs

It’s not necessary to swap all of your weekly runs for hill runs; indeed a variety of training run routes is better. Try one a week to start with, rising to maybe two. This is the best way to increase your endurance and your overall strength.

Don’t go hell for leather, take it steady but do work the inclines or uphills. If you can find a route that include flats and hills regularly, you’re onto a winner!

Hill Sprints

These aren’t meant to fill a whole workout, rather be tagged onto the end of one or are part of the run. Sprinting up a hill for a short time is brilliant for targeting muscle fibres and over time will allow you to run faster and further without having to stop to rest.

Ten-second sprints with a slow recovery walk back down, repeated six to ten times equals a great hill sprint session. Don’t over push

Have You Heard of Kenyan Hills?

Some runners may have heard the term before but briefly these types of hill runs are called Kenyan runs because they are favoured by the most successful Kenyan distance runners.

The key to this type of hill run is that you run continuously and yet your run also includes recovery time. How you ask? It’s fairly simple. Find a hill that boasts a reasonable or medium-level gradient and work it as you run up (don’t push too hard, it’s a workout, not a sprint). Once you’ve run up at a steady pace for about a minute and a half, turn and run back down. This is your recovery section of the run. The idea behind these Kenyan hill runs is to keep your heart rate up and your lactate levels elevated throughout without pushing yourself into an injury.

You’ll feel the burn but you’ll feel the benefits over time too.

No Hills?

So what do you do if you want to take advantage of all that hill runs offer and yet live in Flatsville? If there’s no hills nearby and don’t want to miss out your best bet is the hit the treadmill. The upside of this is that the treadmill isn’t at the mercy of the weather.

After warming up, increase the gradient or incline settings on your / the gym’s treadmill to around 5%. After a while increase your speed but don’t sprint. If you can, run for twenty minutes or so without stopping. If this is beyond you right now work up to it by breaking the run into sections of five, then ten minutes as your stamina and your skill improve.

Don’t forget to decrease the gradient again, then your speed to cool off and recover.

Are Hill Runs for You?

If you don’t try it, you’ll never know! Give it a go, starting small, and gently and come back and let me know how you got on.