Run to the Hills! by Paul Clucas

As the start of the season gets ever closer the training starts to take on a little more focus. Whilst I am not chasing numbers at the moment, (it will not be long now though) one really good way to take that winter base training to another level is to attack the hills. This applies to the bike and run but for this blog I will focus on the run element.

So many times a runner will come to a hill with a preconception of how horrible it will feel to run up it. Those negative feelings form a feedback loop in the brain, stoking your hatred of hills. When you come to the base of a hill with thoughts like that in your head, you set yourself up for a terrible experience.

Nothing builds running strength better than hills. Running on inclines forces your muscles to work harder with each step, as you grow stronger, your stride becomes more efficient and your speed improves. I’m a great believer in the benefits of hill workouts, speed requires good running technique and to run uphill effectively you must use your muscles in a very coordinated way. Speed also requires a quick cadence, which will be encouraged by hill running.

The only way is up(hill)!

But while ascents require more effort from your heart and lungs, downhill running poses its own challenges – and rewards. Descending feels easy aerobically, but each step triggers muscle-damaging eccentric contractions in the quads and lower legs.

A great local area to do hill reps is in Brantingham, Spout Hill. This is a quiet area and you can mix it up between long and short reps; plus the views from the top are fantastic on a sunny day, you will really feel a sense of achievement when you reach the top.

My partner and I do repeat reps here frequently, it’s never easy but every time we complete a session we reflect how beneficial it was. Also known as character building, just think of the speed gains you will reap from it. Don’t get me wrong these are not easy, each time we get to the top we are in bits from the sustained effort but you soon recover on the downhill to do it all again.

Hill training will increase your aerobic capacity and improves your running economy and as its high intensity, it's a great calorie burner. It builds strength in your glutes, quads and calf muscles, so is fantastic for toning and sculpting your bottom half. Hill work also increases your ankle flexion, meaning you ‘pop’ off the ground quickly when you run.

As ever but particularly after a hard, muscle damaging set such as this, remember to ensure you get some good recovery into your body to start the repair process as soon as possible, thanks to Monster Supplements I ensure I fuel before and straight afterwards to allow me to go again the next day.

Follow Paul's journey on Instagram for more inspiring posts - @clucasp

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