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Hills are your friend… really!

Kielder half start

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘hills are your friend’ and internally disagreed? Kielder is stunning, challenging and constantly undulating. So if you haven’t yet thought about incorporating hills into your training, here’s why you might need to start!

Many newcomers to the Kielder Marathon events look at Kielder water and presume it’s just one flat lap around a big lake and they couldn’t be more wrong. The constant undulations on all of the courses make it challenging but the views at the top of every climb make it worth it!

It goes without saying that hill training is of benefit to you if only to prepare your legs for the climbs on the day, but hill training at any time can make you a stronger runner. Hills require stamina and build endurance, and they can give you a great workout that gives you a great deal of distance without needing to go very far! They are a great workout for legs, lungs and heart all rolled into one.

Hill session ideas

Timed hill efforts: Jog out at easy pace to your chosen hill, making sure you are warmed up first. This is a staple for any hill sessions to prevent injury.

Time your efforts starting at 10 seconds: run at a hard effort uphill for ten seconds, then jog back down at easy pace. Repeat this 5 times. As this starts to get easier, increase the time you spend running uphill, and increase the repetitions.

Distance hill reps: Find a few hills of varying length and practice running hard repetitions of each of them. An example would be three short hills, three ‘medium’ hills and finish with three long hills, increasing your effort as you go.

Paired hills: Pair a training buddy to run with and take turns to run a hill hard, then jog down to recover. While your buddy is doing their hill rep, run a flat repetition at high speed.

An important thing to consider is that short hills build strength in quads and hips, long hills build endurance. Kielder has both! 

Key things to remember:

Try to run tall: don’t let your body hunch, especially when you’re tired. You put yourself at greater risk of getting a stitch.

Pump your arms: allow your arms to drive you uphill. Open your arms and pump them powerfully rather than allowing them to drift across your body.

Shorten your stride: this will happen naturally as your cadence increases. Don’t waste energy trying to lengthen your stride, keep your steps short and powerful as you run hard uphill.

Lean into the hill: this is Steve Cram’s top piece of advice! Steve comments: “Get up on your toes, lean slightly into the hill rather than back and drive on!”

Happy hill training! 

#HillsAreYourFriend

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