Recently a study was released that shows that for every hour you run, you could be adding seven hours to your life. Now how true this is exactly, we may never know. But there is no doubt that running is a great way to stay healthy and active by moving your body and working those joints and muscles on a regular basis.
But those who are really wanting to improve their running should be focusing on a few different aspects of training: speed, distance, form, and HILLS! Right now we're going to talk about hill running because everyone already knows plenty about the importance of speed, distance, and form conditioning.
Putting aside time during your run during the week specifically for incline training has a number of benefits. Just like any addition to your training, remember to increase your effort by 30% at a time. That means if you haven't been running hills, you may only want to add one or two strenuous hill climbs a week. If you're already running 10-15 miles a week, one additional hill is a sufficient increase until you're ready to move onto more intense training. Increasing your training by 30% at a time helps to avoid injury due to over exertion.
Why Hill Runs Are The Best
Why are these types of runs so effective? The answer may surprise you:
- STRENGTHENS JOINTS - Hills are typically easier on your joints than stomping across flat pavement. Hill climbing forces you to slow down, use more stabalizing muscles, builds strength in your quads which ultimately relives pressure on your knees.
- BURNS MORE CALORIES - You burn calories at a higher rate and in less time when you're running up hills. It may take a bit more mental power to push through the burning in your lungs, but when you consider the fact that you can burn twice as many calories in half the time you might push yourself a little harder.
- IMPROVES PERFORMANCE - A study has shown that uphill running significantly improves performance for runners. Your cardio vascular system is forced to use more oxygen which improves your endurance for even slow, steady runs. You also tear down and build more muscle when running an incline which will increase your endurance as well.
- ADDS VARIATION - Hill and stair climbing adds variation to your typical run. This variation shocks muscles that are not typically used on your normal route. Beside a standard jaunt up the hillside, you can mix up your methods by crawling on all fours, running backwards, doing lunges, or even side stepping to use more muscles in your body.
- CUSTOMIZE INTENSITY - You can change intensity as you go to work with different inclines, and train at all levels without relying on distance or speed. Vary your speed when running up hill, outdoors. Or, vary your incline on an indoor treadmill to keep the momentum and take breaks when you need to.
- LESS INJURY - As you strengthen your leg and core muscles during hill climbs, your strengthening your joints, bones, and muscles. This will help prevent injury as you increase your training for more impressive physical goals.
Convinced of the benefits, but don’t have a hill nearby? Maybe your just nervous to get stuck in town somewhere, having to walk the hill because you're just too tired. Head inside and ramp up the incline on a treadmill for the same results. Many machines will go to a 15% incline and some go all the way up to 40%.
Kevin Jones is a health and fitness blogger and regular contributor to a number of fitness websites. He writes for NordicTrack. During his free time, he likes to be very active and spend time with his wife and two children shredding the slopes of Park City, Utah or chasing down the Salt Lake City Korean food trucks. Connect with him online; LinkedIn - Twitter