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Why You Should Run Hills Even If You Absolutely Hate Them

Hills: nemesis of the runner and loathed by many. Most runners dodge hills because they are hard—we avoid them in training runs and races. Hills are tough, they slow us down and make us feel like we aren’t as good as we thought we were, which is why so many runners try to find a way around them.

But there is quite literally power in running hills, they are one of the most underutilized training tools. Running hills is one of the best things a runner can do to become stronger mentally and physically.

Mental Strength

When you confront the thing that you avoid, when you tackle it head on and embrace it, you ultimately gain power over it and from it. Hills are hard and when you incorporate hard training runs into your race day preparation you’ll find yourself better able to tackle the mental hurdles that will come our way during your race.

Physical Strength

Running hills builds leg strength and strong legs are powerful legs. The more power you can generate in a single stride the faster you will run. Hill running also builds cardiovascular fitness, running hill repeats where you walk or jog back down the hill is a great way to get the benefits of interval training without hitting the track.

Embrace The Hill Workout

  • Warm up with 1 mile of easy running.
  • Find a hill that is 1/4 in length and 80-100 feet in elevation gain.
  • Run up the hill, making sure your stride shortens and your cadence increases. Avoid leaning forward and power from you glutes, staying upright. Build your effort gradually as you go up the hill, finishing by running through the crest of the hill at full effort.
  • Repeat 4 times, jogging or walking back down to the bottom of the hill.
  • Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.
  • Add an additional repeat every week to keep this workout challenging.
Run Far Girl

Run Far Girl

Sarah Canney is author of RunFarGirl.com, freelance writer, running coach and creator of Run Far Gear and Rise.Run.Retreat. After running on the roads for nearly 14 years, Sarah recently transitioned to trail and mountain running and is an avid snowshoe runner. She is mom to three little ones, whom she homeschools. Sarah is also a passionate fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock, where her son, Jack received care as an infant. After a nine-year battle with anorexia and bulimia, Sarah has reached a point of peace and freedom and openly shares her journey to recovery. You can also find Sarah on Twitter and Instagram as @runfargirl.