Legendary US running coach Frank Shorter once said that “Hills are speed work in disguise” and, if you’re looking to boost your running performance over the winter, you’ll ignore his words of wisdom at your peril.
Now, I can already hear some of you making the classic excuse: ‘I don’t race on hilly courses so I don’t need to train on hills’. But you’re deluding yourselves, leaving a gaping chink in your running armour and missing out on some guaranteed speed, strength and mental toughness gains.
Every meter of ascent you gain on hills will translate into valuable seconds per kilometre on race day. Trust in the words of coach Shorter, put in some hill work and you’ll fly on the flat. Also, even the most pancake-flat run courses will often have some sort of incline on them.
The climb up to the castle at Windsor and the ramp into ExCeL at London are just a couple of examples of seemingly benign blips on the run course profile that see countless competitors reduced to a crawl.
Work on your hill prowess over the winter and you can have the confidence that not only will you be able to maintain your pace up these minor mounts, but that you’ll be able to run them strongly and pick up places on every ascent.
If you’re a long-course racer, or aspire to be, hill work will help you develop the leg strength and muscular endurance that you’ll have to dig deep into to conquer the marathon run.
When you really start to suffer, you can take heart from the memory of that extra hill rep you squeezed out when your legs were quivering and lungs burning. You dug in then and you can dig in now.
Hills force you to man – or woman – up and give you the steel to succeed over any triathlon-run distance.
(Images: Ben Winston)
For lots more running sessions head to our Training section