Hill Training with itrackandfield!
Fall is setting in, the days are hotter and dustier and Cross Country season is burgeoning.
We are serious believers in diversified workouts regardless of your event. Although hill training can feel daunting it is the perfect opportunity to train your body for a) the most explosive parts of your event and b) grant you the stamina for that very last leg when all you can feel is lactic acid nimbly BURNING your thighs.
Here are a few approachable workouts to send you on your way up that hill!
Why do it: Hill sprints are great for muscle building. Much like working with weights, hill sprints are a form of resistance training. When integrated into your regular workout the muscle building you facilitate helps prevent you from injuries. This kind of workout also facilitates you opening your stride and lifting your knees. Lastly, this workout is short! Letting you off a little early for the day or giving you time to do some core and back strength training afterwards.
What to do: Take one day a week away from your regular distance runs and opt for hill sprints. Find a hill with a relatively sharp incline. Sprint at 95% for 10 seconds with a recovery jog back down, with one minute to breath. Repeat 10x, with a 5 minute break after the 5th sprint.
Make it harder: As the season continues, increase these intervals by 5 seconds each week.
Why do it: Running a hill loop is a serious endurance exercise. It gets you acclimated to pushing yourself when you have very little left in the tank. Going up hill taxes your lungs and hearts the most, but going downhill puts serious strain on your lower legs. By going downhill you are building distinct leg and core muscles. Hill loops also uniquely let you practise running with more intention: on the ascent your knees are high, at the crest your stride must open to regain speed lost, downhill leg rotation has to increase to minimize pounding on your muscles. Come racing day, being able to call to action different kinds of movements will surely benefit you.
What to do: Find a hilly course you can run in a loop. If your course naturally reaches a dead-end, create your own loop by running back the way you came. (In this scenario, your loop ends at your starting point.) Have goals in mind for how you want to tackle the ascent, flat parts, and descent. Newcomers to hills, we recommend starting with approximately 20 minutes. For more seasoned hill runners, start off close to 35 minutes.
Make it harder: There are two main ways to challenge yourself here. Either add another circuit as you get more acclimated, or have the goal to shave off time each circuit compared to your prior workout.
Why do it: Running continuously uphill is one of the best things you can do from an endurance point of view. Even elevation gain mimics your experience running somewhere flat because your breathing and tempo are consistent with the bonus of working your legs, lungs, and heart harder. In layman’s terms, this is an uphill tempo run.
What to do: Seek out a hill with moderate elevation gain that is mostly consistent. An uphill you can run for 8-12 minutes is ideal. Your goal should be to use your comfortable jogging pace the entire time. Do your best to hold your pace from start to end. Give yourself a few minute break and repeat 3 times.
Make it harder: Lengthen your uphill run by one minute as you acclimate.
Incorporating hill running is an incredible way to challenge yourself as an athlete and build strength. The most important thing to remember is for every hill you go up, you’ll have the down hill to recover ;)