My weekly workout schedule always (rain, snow or shine) includes at least one session of hill sprints. When I first started doing them, it was a love-hate relationship, and now I’m in a committed all-love relationship with them. The individual sprints don’t get easier, and that’s the point – it’s hard to hit a plateau when it feels like you’re dying after each one. But what has improved is my:
⚡ 𝐌𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞: when I first started, I could only do 5. And then when I increased it to 10, I had to count to 5 twice; counting to 10 felt too daunting;
⚡ 𝐌𝐲 𝐚𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐢𝐜 & 𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲: I now can do 20 sprints, before I feel like I’m completely taxed out;
⚡ 𝐌𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧: and now, I actually crave it because the runner’s high is amazing;
⚡ 𝐌𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞: my heart rate and breathing normalizes pretty quickly afterwards, by the time I jog light back down;
Whether you’re new to running, or are a seasoned long distance runner, the benefits of hill sprints (hill repeats, if you can’t go full out) translate over to traditional flat terrain running.
- 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭: you don’t have to run for an hour. After a good warm up (i.e. a nice jog to your preferred hill), depending on your fitness level, you only need 10-20 minutes to do your sprints;
- 𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐬 + 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐣𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬:
1) Because it’s time efficient, you don’t need to run long distances and for hours (which over time can be rough on your knees);
2) Running up on an incline is actually better on your knees than pounding on flat pavement; because of the angle of the hill, the distance between your foot and the ground is less, resulting in less impact on your joints.
- 𝐁𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦 & 𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬: even more than distance running; the EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is greater and leaves your metabolism stoked for 24-48 hours after your run;
- 𝐈𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐦𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐕𝟎𝟐 𝐦𝐚𝐱: the amount of oxygen your body can consume and deliver to your muscles during intense exercise;
- 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐤 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐜𝐥𝐞 compared to flat terrain sprints: even though you are running at your max effort, 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦, 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘵 𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘫𝘶𝘳𝘺, 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘤𝘭𝘦, 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯;
- 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐩 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭𝐬: your best effort at running at sub-max speed is enough in gaining these benefits;
- 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 & 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲: because of the incline, the sprints require more muscle recruitment of your posterior chain (low back, glutes, hamstrings, calves), not just your hamstrings (like in flat terrain running), thereby allowing a shared load of training stress. Weak glutes is a common concern for runners; adding strength exercises and hill sprints can help offset that;
- 𝐈𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝: the intensity of an exercise where your body cannot remove the lactate as fast as it is accumulating in your bloodstream;
- 𝐈𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐬 (𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐧 𝐟𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦): sprinting has an anabolic (building) effect on your muscles; whereas long duration steady state cardio can have a catabolic (breakdown of muscle) effect once you hit the one-hour mark;
- 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦: it encourages you to run with your knees high, naturally aggressive arm and shoulder action and striking the ground with your mid-foot and forefoot (not heel);
- 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠: when you’re really pushing it and are struggling, you don’t have the luxury of getting bored;
- Because of the strength and power needed to power up the hills, it 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 and it’s great training for the last 100m sprint you have to the 10k finish line
Should you add hill sprints or hill repeats
(running modestly, not sprinting full out)?
𝐘𝐄𝐒! 𝐀𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐝 𝐚𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐢𝐜 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬.
Comment below 👇
and let me know your relationship with sprinting and trekking up hills.