How many of you hate hills during a run? I know I do. I’ve avoided them like the plague. If I knew a route would take me on a hill, I would change my route for a flatter course. Hills are hard, no doubt about it, but they are good for your training. And now…after incorporating them, I love to EAT HILLS FOR BREAKFAST! There is a difference between running a route with hills and doing hill repeats however. This 3 part series on hill work will focus on Hill Repeats specifically.
I’m now into week 4 of marathon training. This will be my second marathon. I’ve decided to take a different approach to training this time around. Last year I learned that I could finish the distance, and to be quite frank, that’s all my goal was…cross the finish line. Of course I had time goals in my head, but ultimately, I had never run 26.2 miles before in my life and I just wanted to finish and make it past the gauntlet in time so I didn’t get a ride home on the bus. My training went hand in hand with that. I ran 5-6 times a week and just completed the mileage. I didn’t run for time or a specific speed, I just did the mileage. I didn’t do any cross training either (HUGE mistake). So this time around I wanted to do things differently. My ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston someday. The only way to get there is to learn how to run faster and get stronger. I decided in the winter that I really wanted to increase my speed in my half marathon so I decided to use the Run Less Run Faster program by Runner’s World. That plan shaved 12 min off of my previous half marathon time. I was shocked. Who would have thought that only running 3 days a week and really “working” during my runs would result in that much of a difference? So when the time came to pick my plan for Marine Corp Marathon coming up in October, it really was a no brainer. RLRF. RLRF is comprised of 3 key runs per week….tempo, speed, and a long run. After doing a lot of research, I decided to tweak the plan a bit and really face my fear. I was going to add hill work. I wasn’t going to add an extra run, but I was going to substitute hill repeats for a speed/track workout every other week.
Why, you ask? Well….
Hills are a form of strength training! Running up hills helps strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Sure, it’s a bit different then hitting the squat rack at the gym, but it is strength training nontheless, and it helps work your core too. You need a tight core to stabilize yourself as you are running up to keep your form in the proper alignment.
Hills help to prevent injury! We all know that strengthening our largest muscles (our legs/glutes) can help prevent injury. Just be careful running DOWNhill, you are at the biggest risk for injury going back down (stay tuned for a post on downhill running)
Hills keep you mentally prepared for a race! Staring hills in the face several times a month during your training can help give you that mental edge when you come across a hill in your race. Been there, done that….you will have the confidence that you can conquer it!
I’ve now done 2 hill workouts for my training and I honestly look forward to them. They break up the monotony and yes, they SUCK…I won’t lie to you, but the feeling of accomplishment after you’ve finished is awesome. And I LOVE looking at this graphic after I download my Garmin data.
Even after just a few workouts, I don’t fear them anymore and I definitely feel like I’m gaining a mental edge!
Stay tuned for my next installment on running hills: HOW to run them! Yes, there is a technique!
Do you incorporate Hill repeats into your training?
If so, how often?
Are you afraid of hills? Why?