The Only Way to Go: UP! Pt. 1
- by Sandra Phoon
Hi BBP Fans, let’s see if you can relate to this when running on hills!
- Suited up for my run. Got my shoes. 👟Let’s go!
- I’m tired …
- I didn’t realize this route had an incline hmmm. Is that a hill? 🗻
- It looks so high up. ⬆️
- It looks like a long way up. ↸
- I can do it! 💪
- Why do my legs feel so heavy? 🏃🏻♀️
- Crap, got to slow down.
- Wow, look at my heart rate skyrocketing!
- Am I halfway up? ⛰
- Maybe I should walk this stretch. 🚶🏻♂️
- My lungs are bursting out of my chest! 💥
- No! I got this! 500 more meters and it's downhill from there. ↓
- No, I’ve to come back up this hill to get back.
- Why am I doing this …
- No, FOCUS! 100 more meters 🏔
- I think I’m on level ground! 🧘🏻♀️
- Doneeeee! 🏆🍹
Sound familiar? Like the voice in your head?
Don’t fret! It is completely normal! In fact, running on the road with some inclines in between is necessary!
Here is why you need to be incorporating hill training in your workout:
You’ll feel your heart rate racing up a hill. You’ll feel yourself gasping for air. You’ll feel your muscles screaming for oxygen to fire them up. When you incorporate this in your training, you are ultimately improving your lactate threshold which will allow you to run longer and faster before tiring out. This happens because your body grows stronger and learns to produce less lactic acid.
Like sprinting, running uphill also uses the same muscles! And when you run uphill, your muscles have to learn to fire up more quickly and forcefully on each step. This, in turn, improves leg turnover rate! Hill sprints are the best way to quickly see improvements in your speed.
Increases strength and power
Your muscles work hard battling against tarmac and gravity. By running uphill, you will be naturally forcing your muscles to relax and contract more powerfully to give you that push for your next step. Running hills is comparable to doing strength-specific workouts such as squats or lunges! It is actually even better because it coordinates all the muscles you use when running while supporting your full body weight.
Because running hills boosts strength and power, you will reduce the risk of injury and impact to your lower leg, ankle and knee joints! It also helps because when you work these muscles on the hill, primarily your quadriceps, they absorb the impact from the pounding on the ground to protect your knees. Put it this way, when your muscles are well built and conditioned, they act as shock absorbers. The muscles take the impact off the joints, helping you prevent injuries!
But do be careful on the run down. Do not overextend your step and always keep your steps light and controlled.
Burns more calories
It is a TOTAL body workout. You will be working your leg muscles as well as your upper body! When running uphill, you will be forced to drive your arms harder and pump your shoulders to create that momentum. Of course, more calories will be burnt!
Toughens the mind
Besides being physically strenuous, running uphill is just as much of a mental challenge! You train yourself to push on even when your lungs feel like they are about to fall off. You train yourself to continue even when your quadriceps are screaming. You train yourself to not give up until you’ve reached the top.
You can also mix up your training with hills to have more variety in your training. This helps fight boredom on the long road.
I mean, it is almost impossible to run a race that is on completely flat ground. Train on some hills and you’ll see yourself conquering the hills in your next race!
We’ll cover different types of hill training in our next article! Watch this space!