Follow my blog with Bloglovin In spite of living in a flat area, many runners feel the allure of running in the mountains. They enter the race of their dreams, then reality sets in and they wonder; how the heck am I going to train for this??
There are many ways to train for hilly races, but of course, nothing compares to actually running hills. So, by all means, use alternate methods of training, but try to get to the mountains as often as you can. Even one weekend a month is better than nothing!
One of the best ways to train for hills if you don’t have any around is to utilise stairs. Steep stairs are the best. There are three ways you can utilise stairs in your hill strength building:
1. General strength by running and up and down at a moderate pace. A Stair master can be used for this workout (not a stepper, it needs to be the machine where the stairs rotate)
2. Sprinting: Sprint up the stairs (one at a time) as fast as you can for about 30 seconds. Take it easy back down the stairs as recovery.
3. Stair bounding: Bound up the stairs (skipping a step each time). Aim to really get some lift and air with each bound. Back down the stairs is recovery.
Weights in the gym is another way of developing the leg strength for hilly races.
1. Stepping up onto a step (and progressively making this higher). Start without weights and progress to adding weights.
2. Split squats: stationary or forward/reverse lunges, either onto or off a step or on the flat ground. All add good variation! Add weight when your form is 100% correct.
3. One legged squats with dumbbells
4. Kettlebell squats on a bosu ball
5. Box jumps
The variety is endless!
Find a hill!!
It doesn’t matter how short the hill is. Find the steepest hill you can (even if it is in a carpark leading up the next level) and sprint up it!! Hard!! Repeat, with the down as recovery. You can also do high knee skipping and bounding up these as well.
Equally, you can use this as a downhill workout. Walk up the hill, then sprint down. You need to strengthen the legs for downhill running as much, of not more than, for uphill.
If you are lucky, the treadmills at your gym will be able to be put up to a decent incline. When I was living in Canada and couldn’t do my normal workouts, I would practice hiking on the treadmill. Unfortunately you can’t really train for the downhills this way, but you can learn to get a good hike on.
Hopefully this has given you some good ideas on how to train for hills in a flat area. As I said in the beginning, however, nothing beats training on actual hills. So really try to get some proper hills in as part of your plan that is progressing you towards your A-race. And remember to keep it fun! Ultimately if you can only train on the flat, then that is all you can do. Do the best training you can and let it go. Many years ago, I won the 6 Foot track marathon whilst I was training for a sub-3 hour marathon on the flat. It is possible!
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