In the last newsletter, I touched on hill sessions, so here is a bit more in-depth info for you on how to be better at hills and how it could help the rest of your training.
Why bother with hills? Firstly, it’s fun. Which is why we run surely? Secondly, it makes things harder on the way up, so you don’t have to run as fast to get the effort level to the same peak. Thirdly, think of it as a strength session – you’ll have to power the legs harder to make progress, lifting the knees higher than normal and controlling the ankles well.
If you’ve never run hills before, adding them would be a CHANGE to your training. So take care and start gradually. Incorporating a few hills into an otherwise flat, short, easy pace run would be the best start.
Once you are comfortable doing hills during a normal easy run, you can consider moving on to specific hill sessions. The simplest of these is to do a faster pace run on hills instead of on the flat. Effort level will be too high on the way up hills if you try to keep the same pace, so slow down enough that the effort level matches the same session on the flat. Don’t get too carried away on the way down long hills until you have done hills a lot.
Once proficient, you can also consider doing hill sprints. Make sure you are properly warmed up for this. Start with very short distances, like 30 seconds. Run up for 30 seconds and jog or walk back to where you started and repeat three times but stay at the top on the last time. Now wait for a couple of minutes to ensure your breath is back and then try running back down to where you started. Everyone forgets to train the downhills quickly. Only do one or two of these downhills. They are tough.
Keep your cadence high, and land softly, especially on the downhills. Imagine a steep slope and as you run down it, you fall much further than when running on the flat. But if your steps are shorter due to higher cadence, the amount you fall with each step is reduced. I hope that makes sense!
Focus on your running form at all times. If you get tired and feel you aren’t running perfectly, it’s time to stop. The goal is to practice running hard with perfect form and is NOT to practice running flat out with poor form.