Simple ways to boost your hill skills
From walking uphill to cranking up your treadmill
RUN OR HIKE?
In a lot of long, hilly races you’ll need to make a call on which hills to run and which to hike. There will come a point where running up the hill becomes false economy, expending a lot of energy on moving not much more quickly than hiking. And you’ll pay the price later. It’s all about the gradient of the hill. For example, a hill of 40% would be more efficient to hike. A hill with a relatively gradual gradient you can more than likely run; but generally the steeper the hill, the more efficient it is to hike.
NO HILLS? NO PROBLEM
Even if you don’t live near big hills or mountains, you can still train for them. For example, you can run up and down a hill of any size continuously for between 20 or 30 minutes. Shorter hill reps can be effective, turning hills that only take 30 seconds to run up into great training locations. You can use treadmills for hill reps too. Crank up the incline for a timed interval, then recover back on the flat. Cross training can also be effective in building your hill fitness. Nordic skiing, ski touring and biking are all great.
BOOST RACE FITNESS
Being strong on hills makes the difference between winning and losing races. Last year at the Annecy 15km race in France, I tried so hard on the climbs that my legs were too tired for the downhill, which is usually my speciality. However, being passed on the descent didn’t mean I gave up – I just trotted down the final descent hoping my legs would recover for the final 1.5km of flat to the finish. They did, thanks to my training, and I managed to take back the lead late in the race!