When preparing for a marathon, running continuously at the same pace can be difficult, which is why hill training is a necessity. Hill training can improve speed, endurance, resistance, and strength, but only if pace is a priority.
It’s best to warm up with stretching and shorter runs before taking on a hill. When you’re warmed up and ready, begin your training at the bottom of a hill.
Hill training works up to 20 percent of your upper body strength; use your arms to lift you up the hill as your feet launch you forward. On flat stretches your arms should be at a 45′ angle, and your hands should rise with the hill’s incline as you run up one.
As the hill steepens, continue running at the same pace you would if on a flat track. Pump your arms to the rhythm of your legs and take shorter strides, never decreasing speed.
If you feel yourself slowing down, pump your arms faster. Continue pumping your arms faster as you reach the hill’s peak to prepare to increase your pace for the flat top of the hill and the downward slope that comes after.
When travelling downhill, lean slightly forward to allow gravity to make keeping your new pace less difficult on your body.
Pacing a hill isn’t as simple as setting your mind to it. Here are a few tips to make beginning your training easier:
- The best hills for training are about 400 meters in length and have an 8-10 percent incline.
- Keep your breathing relaxed.
- Push your chest up and out in front of you.
- Keep your eyes on the top of the hill or the horizon ahead to help your body feel as though you’re running on a flat surface.
- Don’t look down. Looking down restricts the airflow through your neck, collapses your lungs, and reduces the efficiency of your arms to propel you uphill.
Most importantly, the body needs healing time to adjust and grow stronger. Hill training will never be easy the first time, and you should always give yourself two days of less intense training after a day of hill training.