The Benefits of Running Hills

I’m not going to lie. I freaked a little bit when I opened the email with tonight’s workout.

Workout for tomorrow will be 2 x 1.5mi repeats out on the hills.

My first thought was a way to get out of going.  I checked the weather and the heat wave seems to be gone. Drats. No headaches. No work functions. I guess I should probably go to the hill workout.

It’s time to stop being such a Debbie Downer and learn to embrace the hills.

Debbie Downer thinks running hills will make you sad like her. But it can be different!

Thankfully Google exists and I was able to find some great reasons that I should suck it up and learn to love Monday hill workouts.

  1. The muscle groups you use to climb hills are virtually the same as those you use for sprinting, so hill work enhances your speed by building strength.  (Source)  I’m a slow poke so any training that will increase my speed gets an A+ in my book.
  2. It builds muscles in your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and especially your glutes.  Running on flat terrain strengthens those muscles as well, but not to the degree that uphill and downhill running will.  Another byproduct is the strengthening of your hip flexors and your Achilles tendons. (Source)  I definitely have weak hamstrings, glutes and hips. Hill workouts will be 2 workouts for the price of one for me.
  3. The harder you push the more oxygen your body requires to burn energy. Your lungs and heart will have to work harder to get enough oxygen into the system. To get maximum benefit from hill runs, don’t go easy on hills try to push a little harder. (Source)  Since I’m training for a half marathon, the extra endurance training will be really beneficial for me!
  4. The strengthening of leg muscles that occurs while hill training helps reduce the risk of suffering from running-related injuries such as shin splints, IT Band issues and calf strains. (Source)
  5. Confidence. Hill charges require concentration which is good practice for the focus you need in a race. If you push yourself up a hill in training, it becomes easier to do it in a race. (Source)

So these will be the things that I think about tonight while I’m pushing through my hill workout. While it might be hard at the time, the benefits seem too good to overlook.

18 Responses to The Benefits of Running Hills
  1. Kristina @ spabettie
    June 13, 2011 | 1:04 pm

    oooh, just reading this makes me want to go run a hill!! :) I (hope!) I’ve never been a Debbie Downer, but I never claimed I wasn’t crazy! ;)

    have a great workout!!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      June 13, 2011 | 4:28 pm

      I don’t think you could ever be a Debbie Downer! You’re so sunny and happy :)
      I’m going to destroy that hill tonight!

  2. movesnmunchies
    June 13, 2011 | 1:29 pm

    I 100% have forgotten about hill runs… true story! my goodness thank u for the reminder!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      June 13, 2011 | 4:30 pm

      Happy to give a reminder. Btws – great post today! So much information! I loved it :)

  3. Beth
    June 13, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    Hill workouts are some of my favorites! They are definitely super hard, but they make you feel SO accomplished! Have fun!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      June 13, 2011 | 4:30 pm

      If anyone was going to respond with “Hill workouts are some of my favorites!” it would be you. hahaha. You are hard core my friend :)

  4. mojamala2
    June 13, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    Hills are not fun but practicing them makes them easier come race time.

  5. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    June 13, 2011 | 2:25 pm

    I totally agree on #5. I regularly train some nasty hills around my neighborhood (hello Tenleytown/Cathedral/Connecticut Ave. I’m looking at you) and I visualize them whenever I get to a hill in a race. Crazy, but it works for me.

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      June 13, 2011 | 4:15 pm

      I’ve always avoided the hills in my neighborhood (the huge ones up around Arlington Ridge Road) but can’t avoid them anymore. I need the leg strength. Plus, I know it sounds weird but I love seeing how much bigger my legs are getting. My booty is strong!

  6. Rick
    June 13, 2011 | 2:55 pm

    I embrace hills. They made me achieve PB in both half of 6 minutes and full of one hour three minutes this year. I teach running groups and I tell them all about this. I am going to save the blog so I can show them I am not crazy

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      June 13, 2011 | 3:44 pm

      Those are huge PR’s, Rick! Congrats!!

  7. Jessica Rose
    June 13, 2011 | 4:05 pm

    Don’t fear the hill! Most people slow down on hills, so if you can power through – it will really help you in races (and definitely boost your confidence passing everyone!)
    There’s a hill workout I do that includes a 0.54 mile long hill that includes a section at 20% grade. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

  8. stoppingfordaisies
    June 13, 2011 | 7:35 pm

    That’s a good way to look at it. I’ll have to keep those thoughts in mind next time I tackle hills!

  9. Allison
    June 14, 2011 | 2:14 pm

    I’ve never really done specific hill workouts, but sometimes I try to pick a particularly hilly course for my long run. It sucks at the time, but I figure it has to be helping me!

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