Hill Training for Flat Landers!


Being a largely urban population in a country that’s relatively flat, most of us don’t have access to mountains. And unfortunately many of the iconic and appealing trail and ultra races in Australia and abroad have significant vertical gain in them. It’s easy for a runner to think that they’re not going to be able to train suitably for these events. Alas, don’t let your vertically challenged terrain put you off taking on your dream race. Here are a few tips on what you can do in training to prepare for a mountain epic, even if you live in Perth!

  1. Stair Reps

Whether it’s a few flights of stairs in your apartment block or a long set of steps in a local park, if you can rack up a weekly session on the stairs you’ll be building leg strength in no time. Ease into things by doing just a few reps during your general runs, then as you feel more in control and comfortable you can start doing specific sessions. It’s good to alternate walking, running single steps and doing two steps at a time. Focus on good technique take it easy on the way down to avoid falling!

  1. Weighted Hill Repeats

If you only have a short hill and not a ‘mountain’ to run up, then add some mass to your workout via a weighted vest, carrying some dumbbells or simply wearing a race pack full of water. Like with the stairs, hit the hill with good technique and don’t worry about how fast you run, just focus on time on feet and rack up as many reps as your quads can handle.

  1. Cycling

Yes, cyclists get a bad wrap, but they’re actually a great bunch….in general. Get yourself a bike or sit on a trainer at the gym and rack up some time in the saddle. It’s a fantastic way to develop leg strength. Start with 60 minute rides as a recovery session and build to 3 hours steady as a once a week alternative to running. If time is limited, a couple one hour spins a week is fine.

  1. Gym Work

Weight training plays an important role in any running program, but even more so if you don’t have access to hills and want to build leg strength. Talk to your local gym instructor about what you’re planning to do and they should be able to develop a specific program to suit your needs. It’s also a good idea to do a short, easy jog after the session just to get use to running on tired pins.

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