Running A-to-Z: U is for Uphill - Tips for Uphill Running

Welcome to another edition of Running A-to-Z where each week I cover a running-related topic following the order of the alphabet. This week we are on letter U: Uphill Running because hill running is a great addition to any runner's training schedule. If you have not yet incorporated hill running into your training, I challenge you to add one day a week of hill training to improve strength, speed and efficiency. 




Keep your chest and head up with your shoulders back, eyes looking forward (not at the ground). Keep your hands loose (imagine holding a potato chip between your thumb and pointer finger). Pump your arms at a 90 degree angle and do not allow them to cross over the front of the body. Imagine that there is a rope tied to your waist pulling you towards the top of the hill. 


Start the hill at a relaxed pace, gradually increasing speed as your reach the crest of the hill. It's important to start slow and build up speed over time. The first few times it may be enough to just jog up the hill. Trust me, you'll feel the change in intensity compared to jogging on flat ground. Over time you can increase speed as you improve.


Recover fully between repetitions. This may mean walking back down to the bottom of the hill and waiting until your breath is recovered before starting your next hill repeat. 

Always allow at least 48 hours between hard workouts. Never do hill repeats on back to back days. Your body repairs, adapts and grows stronger during rest (not during the workout), so it is important to allow it the proper recovery time. 


Start with three or four hill repetitions. You should always finish with feeling like you could do one more rep if your mean 'ol Coach asked you to. You can add more repetitions as you get stronger over time. 


There are several ways to progress your hill training. You can find a steeper or longer hill, you can increase the number of repeats, you can increase your pace or you can decrease your recovery time. Progression can be tricky. As you get stronger you want to make sure that find new ways to keep it challenging or else your body will adapt and you will stop improving.

However, it is important not to push progression beyond your current fitness levels or else you risk injury, overtraining and burnout. Start slow and progress slowly over time. Listen closely to your body and always allow proper recovery. 

Are you ready to tackle those hills?

Have questions? Leave them in the comments or be a part of my new series "Ask the Trainer" and have your questions answered in a future blog post.

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Coach Lea

I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.