All you need to know about Hill Training

Whenever a runner signs up to a race, one of the first questions they ask is; Is it flat? Are there any hills? Can I run a personal best?!

So lets talk Run Reigate. The answers are no, yes and possibly! The Run Reigate event has 2 hills of note, at the beginning and at the end of the various distances. The first one is a quick sharp up followed by a long down which for me means its a very fast start to the event. You start off with that surge of adrenaline and before you know it are cruising downhill thinking maybe I need to slow down! The second hill near the end is tougher. Its not steep but it is a challenging few hundred metres but once it’s over you have a long downhill towards the park. So the trick is not to work too hard on this hill, reign it in a little so you have enough energy to hit the downhill hard and make up the few seconds you sensibly gave up on the way up.

Can you PB on a course with hills? If you race every week then probably not as you will come across flatter courses, but if you only do a few events per year then absolutely, race sensibly and you can hit some surprisingly good times on the hills. BUT, TRAINING and PREPARATION! This is what you need to work on first.

Hill training is an important part of any runner’s diary as it improves your endurance, speed, power, running economy and overall strength.When you run on a hill you will use your leg muscles in a slightly different way and you need to be prepared for this. Generally your calf muscles will be required to work harder than usual so practicing will mean they are ready for a hill or two during a race. Don’t jump straight into hill work, build up a good level of running strength on the flat ground first and then introduce it gradually.

Basic hill running tips

UPHILL lean into it a little more and get those arms pumping harder than their usual amount, smaller strides with a higher running cadence (google that if unsure!)

DOWNHILL: DON’T increase your stride, try to keep it similar to running on flat ground possibly even a quicker running cadence like the uphill, if your feet are on the ground for a shorter amount of time which happens with increased cadence then the injury chances are reduced due to less stress on your legs.

How to use hill runs during a running session

Steady distance run. 20 minutes plus run where at some point you will go up and down some hills, pace may drop or increase depending if you are going uphill or down but effort should remain fairly constant.

Speed work. Countless ways to do this. Here are a few basic ones:

*Find a hill, up fast for a minute, down slow to the start, six times through.

*Using a long hill, up fast 30 seconds, jog/walk down slowly for 30, repeat until you are at the top! Back to the bottom and repeat as many times as you like.

*Again on a longer hill, run hard to the top, jog down, repeat as many times as you want again!

*Here’s a good session; do your 30 min steady/chat pace run and finish with 5x 200m up fast down slow hills. Some good aerobic work at the beginning with some hard work to finish.

Get used to the hills, don’t go mad. Even just once per week is good. Get those legs stronger and conditioned to different terrain and your running improvements will increase. Some calf stretching will help afterwards and frequently on other days due to the increased load they will be taking. You can learn calf stretches easily enough online or by attending the Run Reigate Running club on a Thursday evening or by attending a Great Outdoor Fitness session We will do some hill work at the running clubs mentioned too, don’t be scared of them, embrace the work intensity and if you need a breather then don’t be afraid to take it.


Paul Prothero

Great Outdoor Fitness and Lover of Running!

#RunAsOne #RunReigate2019