If you want to improve strength and speed, run hills. I get it! Not everyone likes to run hills. It’s hard work! But running hills provides a lot of benefits to runners, so embrace the HILLS! Here are some of the ways you can benefit from hill running:

You’ll build strength.

Running inclines, either on a hill outdoors or on a treadmill, is a form of resistance training that builds up the muscles in your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Hill running strengthens those areas more than running on flat ground. You’ll also strengthen your hip flexors and Achilles tendons.

You’ll increase your endurance.

Spend a few weeks hill training and the next time you go on your regular route, you’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes. Start by gradually increasing the inclines on your run up every few weeks until even the steepest hills are doable.

You’ll increase your speed.

Not only is running uphill great for your stamina, but it’s also great for building leg muscle, which helps with your speed. Try this tip: run uphill at full intensity, 10 seconds at a time, to help build leg strength.

The muscles you’ll use to run up hills are the same ones used for sprinting, so the strength you build will improve your speed.

You’ll reduce your risk of injuries.

Including one or two weekly hill sprint sessions into your training may well be safer than just knocking out long distances on flat ground. As you strengthen your leg muscles through hill running, you considerably reduce the risk of suffering from running-related injuries like shin splints. Running on flat or downhill ground can make you more susceptible to painful shin splints by putting pressure on your shinbones, but running uphill can alleviate that stress.

You’ll build confidence.

The more you run hills, the less intimidating they’ll seem when you encounter them on a race course. Your improved strength and technique on the hills will definitely give you a confidence boost when you’re racing.

You’ll burn more calories.

There’s a pretty big difference between a totally flat treadmill and one with a five percent incline — almost 100 calories in difference. Running uphill can burn major calories, and anything helps, so the next time you’re on a run, try upping the incline on your treadmill a little bit, or find a route that is hilly or has rolling hills.

I encourage you to get out there and run some hills today! Join my group every Wednesday night at 6:00pm! We meet at Lululemon Athletica in North Hills/Raleigh, NC where we finish the last mile running up “Lassiser Mill Road,” which is the perfect hill and one that you will conquer in a RACE 13.1 Raleigh event!


Paula Smith, ACE CPT