If you’re taking on your Everest Milestone this year then you’re going to be trying to gain some serious elevation. Unfortunately a jog around your local park isn’t likely to get you very far, you need hills and you need them now. But nailing hill running isn’t just useful for completing a Tough Mudder Challenge, it can be a great way to work your legs, building your strength and endurance so that when you get back to your local park you’ll be able to run further and faster.
The Benefits of Hill Running
But it’s not just your fitness and running ability that will appreciate hill running. If you’re looking to burn calories then hill running is a great addition to your training plan, your body needs to work considerably harder to run up a hill so it will burn fat reserves faster. It can also help reduce the chance of injury, regular runners may find themselves sticking to flat routes (we don’t blame you) but this puts a lot of strain on certain joints as your weight is shifted forward. Head up a hill and you’ll find your weight shifts back, taking the pressure away from your knees.
Have we convinced you yet? We’ve got one final benefit that comes from hill running. Once you’ve taken on the incline – your flat runs will feel like pure luxury.
Get Your Running Form Right
The original saying was, ‘Don’t walk before you can run’ but if we can we’d like to change that to, ‘Don’t hill run before you can run’. If you’re looking into hill running the likelihood is that you’re not a complete running novice but no matter what stage of the fitness journey you’re at it’s always important to ensure you’re nailing technique and form. This won’t just help you avoid injury but you’ll be more likely to stay motivated if you’re feeling good and seeing improvements (which you might not if you don’t get the basics down).
Check out this video for some quick pointers on nailing your running form, cadence and breathing.
4 Top Tips for Hill Running
It can take a lot of effort and motivation to consciously choose a harder running route but we know you’ve got it, especially with these 4 simple tips.
1. Full Body Workout
If you’re a regular runner then you’ll know it isn’t just your legs doing the work. The motion and position of your arms is key to getting your form right, ensuring you’re not wasting energy and setting the correct tempo for your run. When you’re hill running your arms will be even more important, keep them moving quickly and you’ll find you generate more speed and power in your legs.
2. Steep, But Not Too Steep
Taking on Tough Mudder Milestones? Then you may be desperate to go as steep as possible – this is fine but once the incline gets to a certain point you’ll find it’s more efficient to walk rather than run. Building hill running into your general training? Pick a hill that looks doable but challenging and then focus on intervals rather than long runs.
3. Speed it Up
With a big hill ahead of you the temptation can be to slow down and conserve energy, but if you want to get up there you’re going to need to move quickly. More specifically, you want your cadence to be quick (how often your feet touch the ground) so get some real momentum.
4. Eyes Open
This might sound simple (or a bit silly) but what we really mean is pay attention. It can be easy mid-run to let your mind wander but if you’re hill running and especially if you’re hill running off-road you need to keep your wits about you. Trail running is great to mix into your training (especially if you have an IRL Tough Mudder in mind) but it also brings its own dangers.
If you haven’t committed to a Tough Mudder Milestone yet – what are you waiting for? Give your hill running attempts an extra boost of motivation and attempt to climb some of the biggest mountains on our planet – in your local neighbourhood.