Sim­ple ways to boost your hill skills

From walk­ing up­hill to crank­ing up your tread­mill

Trail Running (UK) - - Training -


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.


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.


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!

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