Hills. Runners love to hate them, but truth is they are the most beneficial workout to add to your repertoire.
After 4 months of running our 6.2 mile hill course, the grueling 500 plus feet of elevation had our legs stronger than ever. The result? Our entire group of regular ‘Selden Hill Warriors’ are PRing machines. The Wednesday night hill ritual has conditioned every runner’s leg muscles, tendons, and joints to go the distance—and get there fast.
Fellow Selden Hill Warriors Lou LaFleur and April Rosequist agree that running hills has also helped them shed some extra pounds. “My weight is down 20 pounds since I climbed that first hill in June 2010!” says LaFleur. And Rosequist, “went down a dress size in 4 months by just adding the hills.” Healthy weight loss for runners is not just cosmetic. According to Runner’s World, studies have shown that for each pound of weight lost, runners can expect to take off 2 seconds per mile for each pound lost.
In addition to annihilating calories, the strength gained from consistent hill running also greatly affects shorter, flat 5k times. “When I started running hills two years ago in Selden, my legs were fit, but I tired late in races,” says LaFleur. “Now that I’ve done them on a weekly basis, I feel strong throughout the race and my 5k times have improved from an average of 23:30 to where I am now setting PR’s year after year and I’m now routinely running in the 20:45 range.” Rosequist loves how the hills have toned up her leg muscles, and she equally loves how the numbers speak for themselves. “Before the hills, for a flat 10k race, my time was 55:48. After 4 months of consistent weekly hill training, my 10k time on a somewhat hilly course was 48:52. They have helped my speed tremendously!”
Personally, we have PR’d in a 10k and full marathon after adding the hills as part of our regular workout. The marathon was our ‘A’ race that we have been training for since January. The biggest fear looming in the back of our heads was that our bodies would break down before the end, thus slowing us to a snail’s pace as we waived our goals goodbye. Not only did the 100 total miles of hill training strengthen us enough to get us through the full distance, but we both crushed our previous PRs and even exceeded our goal times. Recovery has been smooth with no residual injuries, and one week later we are actually missing the hills and look forward to Wednesday night.
No hills in your area? Hit the treadmill and pump up the incline to reap the benefits. Even walking at an incline will strengthen your lower body. Click here for treadmill hill workout to get you started.