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Running coach and avid trail runner Michelle Mortimer tells us in her final blog how to tackle the hills on your favourite trail.

Trails often have the best kind of hills, and the fact that they’re off-road brings additional strength-building benefits.

Softer terrain underfoot forces your body to work harder with its balance and agility, as well as the power needed to propel you forward.  It also reduces your chances of injuries caused by repetitive road running. You’ll need fewer reps off road as the workout feels much more difficult.

Try: A great running workout if you’re training for a 5 or 10k is 6 x (up/down/up/90 secs rest/down/up/down/60 secs rest) on a medium hill.

For short hill sprints, choose somewhere grassy with a good incline and ensure the running surface doesn’t have any trip hazards such as rabbit holes, grass tufts or hidden rocks. Short hills are great for sprints, to boost power, speed and really improve your running form. Straight up the hill for between 8-15 seconds, at max effort, then recover for around 2 minutes. Repeat anywhere between 10-30 times depending on your fitness and goals. Focus on your arm drive and high knees, with the hips kept high, so that you are ‘running tall’, not leaning forwards. Your recovery can be long, a walk back down the hill, or a slow jog of 60 to 90 seconds.

You won’t use as much power on long hills, but they certainly help build endurance, particularly if you’re training for a 10k upward. Aim for 8 x 3 minutes with a recovery jog back down that will take you around 5 minutes.

Don’t forget the downhill running either. Downhill running is great for building speed. Choose a hill with a safe surface though without trip hazards and try a few reps. Downhill running is also fantastic for reducing muscle soreness after a particularly tough workout as it uses the muscles in a different way.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out and enjoy those trails and you’ll really see the benefit for your races.

About Michelle Mortimer

Michelle is a fully licensed running coach in Running Fitness through UK Athletics with experience working from beginner level through to ultramarathon distance. 

Based in the West Pennines in North East England you can follow Michelle on Instagram: @mileswithmichelle. 

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