Running Hills…Why They Help You.

Running hills…yuck!

Raise your hand if you get excited when you see that hill looming in the distance, halfway through your run, staring at you like a schoolyard bully wanting your lunch money.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Ya, that’s what I thought.  I, myself, have a love/hate relationship with hills.  I know they help me, I hate that they know I know they help me..but I still feel the mocking of the incline every step.  So how do we tackle them with a good attitude and squeeze them for all of the good they do?


I run hills, well, slowly, but I can hold my own.  But, it wasn’t always that way.  I used to route every run to keep my elevation as minimal as possible.  This came back to haunt me when I attempted my first half marathon in 2012.  It was an off-road run, so there are a few things that don’t translate to road runs. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the hills…at all.  Like the next guy, I like to be able to run flat and fast, pick a pace, get into your groove and power through it.  But dang it if there isn’t always a hill that creeps in.  I wish I had embraced the hill suck much sooner in my running career.  So here are a couple of things to keep in mind that just may help turn your mindset from disdain, to at least “Ok I can do this and it will make me better”…

  1. Plain and simple, it burns more calories. Who doesn’t want to burn more calories? 
  2. Endurance improves. Hills force more effort.  More effort helps condition you over time.  That conditioning will translate into your flatter runs.
  3. Rounding the top helps us as well. Running downhill benefits your core, quads, calves, hammy, and can even stave off those shin splints that some of us are so prone to getting.

Important note, and I learned this from experience…watch where you are going.  Unlike trail running, where you tend to watch your feet, when running hills (on pavement in particular): watch where you are heading.  Helps with your posture, helps with your breathing and in my case, helps keep me from tripping (but that could be just me).

Hills can be unforgiving, painful, and plain old rude.  But having a plan, knowing some of the benefits, and understanding that no matter how far you run, you will face one these monsters, can help turn your mindset around.  A slight attitude change towards them will help you turn up your running game and take it to another level.

Train well my friends!


Previously Fat Guy




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