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How to start hill training

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It's one of the most demanding running training techniques. It's also the best way to develop your cardiovascular performance by requiring considerable additional muscular effort. But make sure you get the basics right first…

 

Choosing the right terrain

You need to find one or more inclines (depending on the programme for your session) that meet two main criteria:

- A regular gradient for a smooth effort during the whole ascent.

- A mean incline of between 5 and 7%. Be careful not to train on overly steep slopes that "tire" you out too fast and break your stride.

Choose straight slopes with a good surface (paved road or trail clear of stones) for good grip with every stride - and with little or nothing in the way of motorised vehicles: it's better if you can focus on the quality of your training without worrying about cars all the time.

 

Watch your general posture

Incline training is a great way to work on the quality of your stride.

Bear in mind:

- Don't let yourself wilt and drop away as you continue to train. Stay as "tall" as possible without giving in to the slope.

- Keep your eyes on the goal at all times, namely, the top of the hill. . Keep your body loose. Especially your shoulders. The balancing effect of the arms should contribute to the efficiency of the whole movement.

Watch you don't shorten your stride too much during your session. To do this, count the number of paces you take every two or three ascents and check the total remains stable.

 

Hill training user guide

Like split-time track work, hill training is based around alternating between phases of sustained intense effort (the ascent) and recovery periods (descent).

Remember to have a sufficiently long warm-up session - at least 30 minutes - gradually forcing the pace to increase your heart rate.

Try to link together repetitions (ascent + descent) with identical times from first to last. If you start to feel bad as a result of the effort (chest pain, dizziness, muscle or tendon discomfort), cut the session short.

 

Examples of sessions

It's better to increase progressively and begin with "tester" sessions and not overstretch your training intensity. Remember: hill training is particularly demanding. So it should be used sparingly in preparation for a competition. No more than two or three times a month, instead of a split session on track.

 

Short hills:

- Repeat six to twelve climbs over distances of between 50 and 200 metres (or for periods of about 30 to 90 seconds). Your level of breathlessness should be pronounced after the ascent. Jog back down slowly (don't walk) to take the time to recover properly.

 

Long hills:

- Work against the clock on a slight to medium slope (not more than 5%) and perform eg 5 x 3 minutes (with a two-minute active recovery - preferably uphill) or 3 x 5 minutes (three-minute recovery).

 

It's not always easy to find a slope close to home. Working on a treadmill - programming a "reasonable" incline into the machine - can replace a field session. Another tip for those who can't find the time to train outdoors: perform repetitions on the stairs. Warning: this type of work-out can cause severe aching. It is therefore preferable to progress gradually…

 

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