Thursday, March 08, 2012

Hill Running

Understanding how to approach hill training and its benefits will enable you to get through the climbs much more easily when you encounter them in an marathon.
The Benefits

Uphill training is really just working against gravity. As we all know, climbing stairs, walking up a steep grade, climbing a ladder or running up a hill creates a lot more work for your body. Your breathing becomes significantly greater, the muscles quickly begin to ache from the acidity being built up in the legs, and your heart rate begins to race upward. It is rather basic, but it is very hard work.The benefits lie in the area of strengthening. "Strengthening your body’s legs will improve your overall running form.
Hill training is probably one of the best single forms of strength training, as it forces the muscles in your hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight. Forms of strength training such as those found in training rooms, including knee extensions, leg curls, presses, and squats are the least helpful routines for runners. It is true that these exercises will strengthen your quads (for example), and strong quads are needed for running. They are being done from a seated position in isolation from the other muscles and not with your full body weight.

Hill running incorporates all of the motions of running and strengthens your leg muscles, tendons and ligaments in concert with each other. Another benefit is the anaerobic conditioning that it brings. Hill training will adapt your legs for better running efficiency.

Types of Hill Training

There are three primary types of hill training routines. Each offers a different set of benefits. One is to run a course that is rolling to very hilly. This is probably the most enjoyable form of hill training and offers some flexibility in how you structure your workout. You can gently run the course (it can be an ½ hour in length or shorter).

The second form of hill training is to run a series of repetitive climbs, manageable, yet difficult enough so that after six to eight you are left pretty fatigued, with a burning sensation in your legs. These lengths of hills can be anywhere from one to three minutes in duration. This will build a good amount of stamina speed and is very beneficial to the marathoner. After each run up, the runner would gently jog back down hill to repeat the same routine.

The third form of hill training is more explosive, incorporating repeats of short yet steep climbs, which will result in more power in your legs. These hills require great arm action and are anaerobic in nature.

Whichever type of hill training you choose and when you run hills on Thursday morning or evening, it is important to concentrate on proper form. This carries over to any form of strength training especially when fatigue, causes inefficiency and adds to the risk of injury.

Hill running should be part of the base foundation phase of your training. Strengthening your legs through hill training will build efficient leg motion and allow for longer stride length, which equates to faster running stride. It is also important to note, though, that since hill training is strength training, it should be reduced well before your next major marathon. You should cut out intensive hill training 2-3 weeks prior to your marathon. Any strength training builds bulk muscle and you must stop it completely to allow the body to re-focus and learn to turnover (the running stride) at rates you will encounter in competition.

How to Run Hills

Running hills correctly can make your next marathon more rewarding. Running hills aggressively will not benefit you physically in any way. It may offer a psychological advantage, but that advantage will be short-lived.

So how should a runner approach a hill? The key is efficiency. Run as efficiently as you can and listen to your breathing. Shorten the stride slightly and don’t lean unnecessarily into the hill. This will better enable you to maintain form while going uphill... If you are wearing a heart rate monitor, try to not let your heart rate go up more than five to seven percent above the target rate you selected. Example: If you are running at 150, then try to keep your heart rate from going over 160. It is equally important to refrain from charging hills that come up very early in a race.

If you become familiar with them through proper training, you will then know how to approach them in an marathon, and can begin to use them to your advantage..
Article BY Coach Alphonzo Jackson,Head East Bay Team

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