The run - hill running training

John ‘Kirky’ Kirkpatrick is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Sale Sharks, and a former professional rugby league player who played for St Helens RLFC, London Broncos RLFC and Widnes RLFC. Here, he shares some top tips to improve your running.

We do a fair amount of hill running with the boys during pre-season. It helps get their endurance up ahead of the start of a very tough and long season.

It’s an extremely specific type of training that could really benefit your triathlon training too. The benefits include:

  • improved stride frequency and length
  • muscular strength and power
  • running economy and efficiency
  • injury prevention
  • muscular endurance
  • increased speed
  • improved aerobic and anaerobic power

These benefits are evidenced by research which shows that high intensity hill running leads to a greater level of muscle fibre activation and recruitment in a number of muscle groups compared with running on a level slope (Sloniger et al., 1997).

In particular, uphill running appears to increase activation of the quadriceps, calves, lower calves and buttocks, and reduce activation of the hamstring group of muscles (Swanson and Caldwell, 2000; Sloniger et al., 1997).

Short hill interval running

Here’s a good example of the type of hill session we do with the players, which you could incorporate into your triathlon training plans.

  • target three sets of six reps
  • set your pace at 3-5k/hour
  • choose a moderate slope
  • each rep should be 120m-150m long
  • jog slowly down between each rep for recovery
  • give yourself three minutes of recovery between each set
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