Posted by Kel on September 25, 2010 at 11:07:58:
In Reply to: More about running hills posted by June on December 01, 2009 at 14:57:03:
: Speaking of running up hills, what about training on hills? Does it really help?
Sorry to be so long in responding (been busy training). Yes, it does help, both physically and psychologically.
Running hills (both up and down) requires quite a different complex set of muscles and tendons. To be most efficient, those structures have to be trained. This can be easily proved by looking at who wins mountains races. They are won by mountains specialists, not by the runners who win races on flat roads.
Running downhill is quite another matter. Downhill running might seem a lot easier than running on the flat, and it is, aerobically, but if you want to do well in races that have significant downhill sections, you have to train for it. Untrained downhill runners don't do well in downhill races. You have to learn to do three things, 1) lower your center of gravity (and that requires different sets of muscles and tendons), and 2) let yourself go, and 3) as I said, be brave. That latter item takes as much training as the other two. Downhill trail running requires both strength and confidence.
By the way, if you are prone to sprained ankles, downhill trail running is when it will happen. But it can be avoided by strengthening your ankles. How? By training on trail hills.
There is also a psychology to running hills, again both up and down.
Running uphill requires finding finding a rhythm and pace, just as it does on the flat. The problem is, hill races are generally trails races and finding a running rhythm on trails is notoriously hard. Add the difficulty of carrying your weight uphill and you can see it becomes a more complex task. In other words, it requires training. Running downhill requires quite a different mind set. Again, you have to find a rhythm AND you have to be brave and let yourself go.
Hope that helps.
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