Monday, 21 March 2011

The benefits of running uphill

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!


  1. Yes-go for it! Hills are good.
    I read this earlier so I have just done my own hill run. Six reps up and down a hill that passes the local cemetary...and I'm thinking about them lot buried in it and how they would love to be me right now...feeling the pain and reveling in sweet,precious life as I lean into the gradient.
    Good stuff!

  2. Cheers, thanks for that, I certainly know what you mean about "feeling the pain" but WOW it's certainly worth it.
    I'll have to try doing reps up & down the same hill - normally I just run up and carry on.

  3. Thats it. You go up, reach the top, then recover going back down. Then repeat.
    The hill running benefits the cycling and develops stamina and strength for climbing and vice versa.
    This morning, I am going out on the bike.
    The weather is beautiful and of course I need my fix of excersise.

  4. Me too, I really enjoyed cycling to work today now my hand is healing. The weather is wonderful rightnow so it's great to make the most of it. Turning up at work wearing shorts raised a couple of eyebrows. It's so good to be on the bike again. Riding home I decided to go a longer hilly route, adding 4 miles. Really uplifting!

  5. Interval training is brilliant but not everyday. Get a mixture of interval training, tempo runs, long runs and you'll be fine but running up hill is the best.