Hills are not always a runner’s favorite, and many runners purposely choose routes to avoid them. Even some races market themselves as a flat course to try and encourage enrollment. Hills are not the enemy however and there are a ton of benefits to adding hill running to your running plan.
Increases Intensity Without Increasing Speed
Running on hills is a great way to increase the intensity of your workout without having to increase the speed of your run. Hills will get your muscles working harder and will increase your heart rate and respiration.
Burn More Calories
An increased intensity and higher heart rate mean that you will be burning more calories. When treadmill running a run with a 5% incline will burn around 100 calories more than the same one on a flat incline. Running uphill is a great way to increase that calorie burn and get a bit more out of your workout.
Target Different Muscles
The amount of work that your leg muscles do when running uphill is increased, but the focus of that work is changed as well. This will help give strength to muscles different muscle groups. The same is true as you run downhill on the other side. This will mean that your overall leg strength will see a large benefit from training on hills.
If you are training on hills which increases the intensity of your run and helps strengthen your muscles, you will see your speed start to increase over time. Running uphill uses the same muscle groups as sprinting, so when you run a flatter course your speed will have improved.
Not only will adding hills to your runs increase your speed, but it will increase your stamina. If you have been spending time training on hills, when you return to a normal running route you will be shocked at how much easier it is, and how much your bodies endurance has increased.
Build Mental Strength
Hill running is more difficult and take more effort than running on flat ground. That is why runners are not always enthusiastic about it, and why it has so many benefits. Training in a more difficult way like this and pushing yourself to complete the workout is a great way to build mental strength and endurance.
Lower the Risk of Injuries
As long as you are not over doing it, hill running can help reduce the risk of being injured. By increasing your endurance and strengthening the muscles in your legs your body is better able to absorb impacts and the stresses of running.