Hill Repeats are a key workout that runners should build into their training program once they have established a strong running base. Akin to Standard Track Intervals, this should be considered “the jam” that goes on top of the bread and butter provided by intervals as it creates strength and a huge confidence boost. Nothing can be more rewarding, or challenging, than finding “the hill” that you run up and down multiple times. It may become a running love affair with pain…. that offers massive gains.
Why Run Hill Repeats
From a physical standpoint, Hill Repeats satisfy several parts of a runner’s needs, the first of which is strength. As you lean into and push your way up a hill, the impact and physical forces working against you act as resistance training so that you are literally strength training by running hill repeats.
Particularly focused on the hamstrings, calf, and quadriceps muscles…. your shoulder and arms will also gain a boost from this training activity. This is great for those considering a Ragnar Relay as those tend to be full of rolling hills.
Speed from Hill Training
This translates into injury prevention, as well as, increases to speed as the running body adapts to the increased strain while hill training. Want proof? Just run a few Hill Repeats then see how fast your legs want to turn over once you hit flat land. This is not to state that hill training is a replacement for speed training on a track in order to get fast, but it prepares your body for better speed work.
Running Form Improvements
Running on hills can also work wonders for your running form, as it requires a slight lean, lifting of the knees, and arms pumping at 90 degree angles to maximize efficiency. This is doubly reinforced when jogging back down the hill during the repeat session as this effort forces control and learning how to relax into a slower pace with good form. The refined running form, combined with increased physical strength, translates into higher running efficiency.
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Hill Repeats
Beyond the physical gain, Hill Repeats offer several mental and emotional benefits. The most obvious of these is mental toughness, as these repeats will break you down mentally just as much as physically. As you learn to overcome, race day or a tough mile becomes much easier to defeat… as do the competitors that dare to challenge you. This is not to say that they aren’t training with the same intensity, just that you will be more prepared to match them bearing in mind that the greatest adversary you will ever face is yourself.
Did It Once, Do It Again
This is where the emotional battle of conquering self-doubt comes into play. If you can prove to yourself that you can run up the steep hills again and again, when you see a large hill looming in a race or workout, instead of “I think I can” you will respond with “I already have”. This powerful self-affirmation is core to a runner’s confidence whether you are a beginner or highly competitive runner. This will also cross into other aspects of your life, providing the mental and emotional benefits of running will all crave.