• Sophia Smith

Keep running up that hill

When its hard to get to a gym, hill sprints are a perfect alternative. They are available to all abilities, are outdoors and free. Importantly you can do them solo so appropriate if you're social distancing.

outdoor fitness

Providing your calves and/or Achilles are healthy and you have no history of strains or tears, then all you need are appropriate running shoes and you’re good to go. I’ve broken it down into the following steps

What to do

Find a hill, a steep hill. One that's at least challenging to walk up.

  • Find a hill, a steep hill. One that's at least challenging to walk up.

  • Perform a light dynamic warm up or rehearsal of the movements involved. Lunges, toe touches and leg swings are great for stretching the muscles of the posterior chain.

  • Jog up the hill and walk immediately back down – this is your active rest period

  • Repeat 4-6 times

  • Stretch to cool down

The number of runs you do is dependent on your current fitness level and the steepness of the hill. Start with 2 rounds, stop if you need to and go again, add more rounds as your ability increases.

The number of times you run a week is up to you, twice is perfectly acceptable. Consider the number of runs you do in a session, your overall goal and the steepness of that hill. To increase intensity you can race against the clock, switch from walking to running for 20 second bursts or find a steeper hill. You can also partner with a friend and perform them together or in rounds as a relay.

Hill runs are a wonderful alternative to straight forward cardio and easily adaptable to a gym environment. They increase your metabolic rate because unlike long flat runs, hill running and hill sprinting mainly utilises the anaerobic energy system. Anaerobic work outs are power based by nature and tax your fast twitch muscle fibers (the ones responsible for muscular strength and power). By training these fibers you can enhance them and build lean muscle, burn fat as well as develop your strength and cardiovascular fitness.

So what feels like really hard running is from your body’s point of view more like resistance training.

Hill runs, or any form of interval style training in fact, a time efficient, cost effective workout which can be incorporated into both cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

Last but not least one of the biggest benefits of hill runs has to be the views, possibly one of the best rewards of reaching the top, especially in London.

My favourite places in London to hill run include Mile End Park, Greenwich Park and Alexandra Palace. Spring is here and its a great opportunity to get started with outdoor fitness


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