Jello Legs – Running Hills

Lately my posts have been focused on the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge seeing how it is the big thing I have going on right now, but I don’t want to forget about our Run Club. The Gingersneezes Run Club has been going great, and remember it is never too late to join in! The club started as a learn to run and 10k training clinic and the women who joined are quickly becoming great strong runners, it is so exciting to see each and everyone of them excel week after week.

Now that I have gotten my gushing out of the way I figured I would do a bit of an informative post on hill training and why it is important to a balanced running program. There are other forms of training (tempo and interval) that are important too, but today I want to focus on hills because I personally think they are so very important to good form, strong legs, glutes and abs and good performance as a runner.

Yesterday because of my bum ankle instead of going on a 60 minute run of 5:1 intervals we (running partner and I) decided to take the group over to a magnificent hill. We figured at least everyone would still be getting in a good workout, and they wouldn’t be penalized by my bum ankle. It also gave me the chance to see everyone’s form and encourage the group from the bottom of the hill while Susan (my running buddy and co-leader of the group) ran the hills with the group to keep them moving.

Hills CollageThe hills maybe weren’t loved by everyone but it was a nice way to shake things up and a way to give the group a little taste of things to come as training progresses.

Why are hills so great for you as a runner? Besides me loving hills just because I personally find them challenging, they do a whole load of great things for you. One of the main things is that hills (either hilly runs or hill repeats) help remind you of your form. As runners we sometimes take our form for granted or we get a little stuck on what “perfect form” looks like. With hills you have no choice but to straighten up a bit and remind yourself of your abdominal and glute muscles so that you can power through each hill.

If you exercise poor form while running hills your body will let you know almost immediately, everything will feel much more challenging, and you are likely to become winded much more rapidly. But a quick reminder to engage your core and glutes will have you up right and taking on those hills in no time.

running form

Hills are great for your form, but are they great for anything else? The short answer is YES! The longer answer is that by doing hills and being mindful of engaging the appropriate muscles you are actually working those muscles out much more than you would be had you done the same run on a flat surface. Hill running allows you to build your running muscles (quads, calves and glutes primarily). Building these muscles helps you to avoid injury and to make you a faster stronger runner.

The run is shorter am I still burning enough calories? Hill running is awesome for torching calories. The high intensity of the hills challenges your body to rev it up, more than it would if you were just running on a flat surface. The quick bursts of energy are completely exhausting for a reason, you are burning up your fuel source like no one’s business and the steeper the hill the harder the workout.

Now that you are all super excited about running hills and are all itching to lace up and test it out yourself. I have a wonderful beginner’s exercise to share with you.

running hills

Test it out and let me know what you thought.

Happy Tuesday! The sun is peeking out. I am hopeful that it is warming up!

P.S. remember to be careful when running hills. It is important to watch your footing and to stay alert, you don’t want to slip and then stall your progress from an injury that could have been avoided.

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