The Benefits of Hill Running

Some runners don't like hill running because it's, well, hard. But running hills provides a lot of benefits to runners, so don't shy away from them. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from hill running:

Building Strength

Runner running on road, low angle view
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Running inclines, either on a hill outdoors or on a treadmill, is a form of resistance training that builds up the muscles in your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Hill running strengthens those areas more than running on flat ground. You'll also strengthen your hip flexors and Achilles tendons. If you hate doing circuit training or strength training, hills are your natural way to build those muscles through running rather than gym time.

Building Speed

The muscles you'll use to run up hills are the same ones used for sprinting, so the strength you build will improve your speed.  Hill repeats are an excellent workout for speed, strength, confidence, and mental endurance. While no two hills are identical for distance and incline, the workout is simple. Use a hill distance of 100 to 200 meters, which may mean cutting your uphill run short on longer hills. You run up a hill as fast as you can and then recover by jogging or walking down. A hill workout is also a great way to mix up your treadmill routine.

Adding Intensity

While runners can add intensity by speeding up, hills offer a way to do it at the same speed. You will feel your heart rate, respiration, and probably your perspiration, go up when you start uphill. While you might not often achieve a speed where you are near your limit, you may be able to so more easily with a hill.

Boredom Busting

Although some runners say that they don't like hills, you will more frequently hear that runners get bored running on a completely flat course. If you're used to running on mostly flat routes, adding uphills and downhills to your routines can help prevent boredom, both mental and physical. Your body gets used to running on the flat and hills will mix things up and lead to new fitness gains. Reaching the top is a small triumph and the spice of the workout. If nothing else, you may get a better view from the top of the hill. 

Reducing Injuries

As you strengthen your leg muscles through hill running, you may reduce the risk of suffering from ​running-related injuries. You will have trained your muscles to perform at different levels of incline. Then, when they are challenged, they are more ready to meet it rather than be strained.

Building Confidence and Mental Strength

The more you run hills, the less intimidating they'll seem when you encounter them on a race course. Your improved strength and technique on the hills will definitely give you a confidence boost when you're racing. You'll feel a lot more mentally prepared for hills knowing that you've practiced them during training.

Strengthening the Upper Body

Uphill running forces you to drive your arms harder than you do when running on flat ground, so you'll improve your upper body strength. If you don't have easy access to hills outside or on a treadmill, you can get similar benefits from a stair workout.

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