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Hill running can be a challenge even for the most experienced of runners. Many runners dread it especially as running a hilly course can be both physically and mentally draining. By incorporating the appropriate techniques needed for hill running into your training programme, it ensures that you are prepared for any obstacle that a race course throws at you.
There are multiple benefits for incorporating hills into your regular training routine regardless of your running experience. Not only does it improve your overall running form and muscular strength, but it also helps you to improve your range of motion. This makes you an overall more efficient runner regardless of the course.
Uphill and downhill running requires a different running technique and form than that of flat ground. Learning how to tackle the uphill and downhill slopes of a hill, will act as a great benefit to your running performance. It increases your strength and endurance, while reducing the risk of an injury.
The natural reaction for many runners when tackling a hill is to lean in to the slope on the uphill. Then lean back on the downhill. However, doing this can have a negative impact on your posture as well as inhibiting the ability to flex your hips and your foot strike. It is important to control your landing when running downhill, and take short, steady strides when running uphill.
While hill running, many think you need to continue at the same pace as when on flat ground. This is incorrect. As your body will be engaging the calf muscles to both propel and control your body on the slope, it is important to slow your pace in order not to overexert yourself. This will ensure that your muscles have enough energy stored to complete the race.
You can still practice hill running and replicate the intensity. Even if you don’t have hills, you can replicate them. You should incorporate aerobic and anaerobic exercises into your training regime. Begin by gradually adopting one intense workout a week and slowly add more as your endurance and strength improves. Make sure to incorporate speed work, strength training, HIIT training and incline training to simulate the experience of running a hill.
Hill running requires a runner to engage their core muscles to help them maintain a good running posture and minimise the chance of feeling tired during a run. By ensuring that your core strength is optimised, you are ensuring that you have a good foundation for hill running. Core strength exercises such as Pilates can be incorporated into your training programme once or twice a week.
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, our physiotherapists are expertly trained in providing functional training assessments and treating sports related injuries. If you are looking to improve your hill running technique or have recently suffered a running related injury, contact us here to book an appointment.