Enjoy the Climb

Hills, you either love them or you hate them!  It really comes down to how you look at them.  Respect the hills, they train your body like nothing else.  Some refer to them as speed work in disguise.  I love them because I get to use my muscles in a different way, and the pay off is huge:

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• improved cardio system


• improved endurance


• low muscle stress


• improved running form


• improved muscle strength


• less strain on ligaments and tendons


• improved mental fitness


Learn to crest each hill with confidence and speed.  Enjoy the challenge and remember every hill ends.  Find a mantra that works to get you up that hill, “you are almost there, stay strong, one foot in front of the other, don’t stop till you reach the top.”  Think of being pulled up the hill by  a rope-tow or t-bar lift as in skiing.  Imagine being pushed from behind.  Don’t stop until you get to the top, then enjoy the break as you “coast” downhill.

Form is so important!  Uphill, lean forward but don’t hunch or curl. Take a shorter, faster cadence.  Use your arms to help propel you up the hill by keeping elbows in and bringing up arms in front of you.  Think of climbing stairs.

Downhill, use those core muscles.  Keep those abs tight and land gently on your feet; don’t pound down with all your weight.  Your bones take the majority of the impact when running down hill.  Learn to land softly and use your muscles.  Downhill causes greater impact on your hip and knee joints.  Don’t over-stride and don’t windmill your arms.  Take the downhills easy.

When adding hills to your weekly routine, try to count them as a speed drill.  You only want to do one speed drill a week so choose either hills or speed. (fartlek, interval)  Tempo runs are fine to do with them in the same week.

Try adding in some hill repeats, you can swap them for speed work.  Run a quick pace up hill then slow down and recover on the downhill.  Don’t run downhill full speed ahead!  You can end up with a fracture (I learned that one the hard way)!  Choose to run in the dirt or on asphalt NOT concrete.  The downhills are so hard on your body because your bones take the majority of the impact.  Try to engage your core and control the downhill.

Warm up for 10-15 min. then run hill repeats and cool down for 10-15 minutes.

Choose several hills at different elevations or just one hill and do hill repeats.  Run up the hill at a fast pace, keeping a sustained pace.  Then slow down and recover on the downhill.  Repeat.

Try for four hill repeats the first week out, then increase each week by one hill until you reach 8-10 repeats.

I would suggest you either do a speed drill OR hill repeat each week but not both in the same week.  You don’t want to end up injured!



Trains the cardiorespiratory system and muscular systems to efficiently absorb, deliver and utilize oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid.

Improved endurance with low muscle stress.

Promotes a more efficient running form.

Teaches patience while managing low grade physical discomfort.

Increases strength, improve form, less chance of injury due to less strain on ligaments and tendons.


If you don’t have hills in your area, look for:

• under pass

• parking garage ramps

• run the stairs at stadium (High School)

• Or try cross training machines: stairsteppers, elliptical, treadmills.

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