All of a sudden, the runners in our family can’t get enough of running hills. On our favorite (and only) hills course, my sister and I like jogging a 2-mile warmup on a gently rolling out-and-back course before tackling the much steeper 1-mile course, where we’ll typically charge up the hills and walk down, repeating as often as desired. Ben treats both sections as a normal run, then charges up the last hill. Colleen likes doing one section or the other, seeing if she can improve her time on each.
With some upcoming races approaching after a lull in the schedule – not to mention the kids’ cross country season — here are 10 reasons we’re all eager to head for the hills as often as possible:
- A tougher run is more exhilarating. “When you’re done, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something,” says my sister Traci.
- Running hills makes you look at your legs in a new light. Even if you felt like you had thunder thighs 10 minutes before you started, by the time you’re done you feel like you’re ready for short shorts. (Sure it’s an illusion, but it’s fun while it lasts.)
- The pace takes care of itself. You don’t have to worry if you’re going fast enough, because your gasping lungs and burning legs are evidence that you’re working hard. (And if we get to a point where that’s not happening, it will seem weird – so we’ll speed up until we get the desired effect.)
- It’s a good way to jumpstart both speed and endurance.
- You burn more calories per mile. (The trick is to not increase the size of your postrun snack.)
- It makes you feel like a serious athlete, because why would a recreational jogger tackle hills? (To create the illusion that you’re a serious athlete, of course.)
- It focuses your mind on the task at hand. You can’t just zone out and run up a hill.
- It makes you want to try harder, because as long as you’re out here, why just coast through a workout?
- A mile of hills seems shorter (even if it’s harder) because it doesn’t stretch out as far into the distance.
- “It’s fun,” says Colleen, “It’s not just going on a run, it’s tackling a challenge.”