In 2008, when I was first getting into running, I used to avoid hills, slopes or any kind of incline. The thought of my legs and lungs burning up was just too much to bear and so I used to plan easy, flat routes. Gradually these routes got a bit longer and started to involve a few hills. In doing that I realised I was working that bit harder, just for a couple of minutes and then enjoying a down hill swoop on the other side. I really started to enjoy
Nowadays I positively love hills and am fortunate in having a few around our home to try. So what are the benefits, why is running up hill good for me?
- Running up short hills is a bit like interval training - burst of effort, then take it easy
- Apparently a 10% incline = 40% more energy
- A sense of achievement
- Strengthens my ankles and toes
- Builds muscle strength throughout my legs
- Brilliant cardiovascular exercise
- Huge calerie consumption
- An achievable mental challenge, as well as a physical challenge
- Warms you up on a cold day
- Adds variety
- I think of those fantastic views
- I once overtook some cyclists!
One of the benefits I have enjoyed is in a race situation. In the handful of races that I've done, I have looked back and especially enjoyed the hilly ones. Why? Well, when I start a race, I'm normally in the mid point of the pack, or perhaps a little further back. Once the race starts, I always seem to get over taken by younger runners, pushing me even further towards the back. Even when the pack is spreading out and settling into its pace, I still get over taken. That is, until the first hill. I find it fairly easy to keep a steady pace going up, nothing "show-off" but a nice steady pace and then I start to overtake some of those faster runners to the point that I generally finish at about the 20% mark (i.e 80% are behind me), which I feel very content with.
Even thought they might still be painful for me with my lungs feeling as if they'll explode, I know its doing me good. I dread to think what my heart rate is, it must reach at least 180 bpm - which is something I fear is not recommended but I console myself by knowing it is only for a few seconds or minutes
So hills. They're hard work but always there to enjoy the benefits!