By Marcia Scott

We all know Memphis is relatively flat compared to many other cities. Some of us get excited to run over the occasional overpass for a change in elevation, or we know our secret spots where we can go to hit the hills. Although it can be challenging to find places to do hill training in the area, there are benefits to finding at least a couple of good inclines to incorporate into your training routine.


Hill workouts vary the intensity and difficulty of your running, which helps to ultimately build endurance. Similar to a track workout, hill workouts increase your heart rate, but without running at as fast of a pace as you would on a track. Looking to improve your running form? Hill training can help with that as well. When going uphill, your knees are forced to lift higher, which can improve your stride and overall form. In a nutshell, hill workouts basically make you a stronger, faster, healthier runner!


If you are a new runner, make sure you build an adequate base mileage before starting to incorporate higher-intensity workouts. Once you have a base of about 15-20 miles per week, try hill training every two to three weeks. Similar to interval training or track workouts, a little bit of hill training will go a long way.


– Improves leg muscle strength.

– Quickens stride.

– Expands stride length.

– Develops cardiovascular system.

– Basically makes you a stronger, faster, healthier runner!


– Shorten your stride (take smaller, baby steps).

– Slow your pace down (you don’t need to go as fast as you do on flat surfaces).

– Have an upright posture (don’t lean back or forward). – Keep your eyes on the top of the hill. – Lower your arms a little bit.


– Keep an even pace (don’t sprint down the hills!). – Have an upright posture. – Stay in control.



The key to successful hill running is to shorten your stride on the way up the hill. You also want to be sure to keep good posture — don’t lean forward or backward. When coming down a hill, it’s easy to start sprinting, but ideally you want to remain in control. If you feel like your legs are moving at the speed of light, focus on shortening your stride to slow down a bit.


Finding a place to do hill training in Memphis can be difficult, and sometimes we have to get creative. One good bridge we like to use is the bridge over to Harbor Town in downtown Memphis. There are also several other overpasses to use as hills, or, if you’re really looking for a challenge, head out to Shelby Forest and you’ll definitely get your fill of hills for the day. Need a more convenient way to do hill training? Hit the treadmill and increase the incline to simulate hills. Run at a high incline and intensity for about 45-60 seconds and then recover for a couple of minutes before repeating.

Marcia Scott is the Sports Training Program Coordinator and Coach at Fleet Feet Sports. For more information call 901.761.0078 or visit

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