Head for the Hills!

The hill next to the Visitors’ Center at Shelby Farms is a popular place in the morning. I was doing repeats running up and down, while others were relaxing in the grass. I said to my running partner, “Who drives to the park to lie in a field and watch the sunrise?” to which he replied, “They’re probably wondering who comes to the park to run up and down a hill over and over…” Good point.

Every runner should find the nearest hill to run and repeat for more strength, power, and speed. It’s the perfect workout for those who want to continue growing during the offseason and improve speed and mechanics, while decreasing injury risk.

Frank Shorter, a famous American runner who won the gold medal in the marathon in the 1972 Olympics, says “Hills are speed work in disguise.” Running up a hill over and over again builds strength and power because in these short bursts of effort, several muscle groups fire at once, increasing blood volume to large muscles as well as building muscular endurance. Enhancements in breathing, posture, and efficiency help improve overall running economy. And there’s always less injury risk involved in hill workouts compared to more specific speed work.

At Fleet Feet Memphis, Andrew Chumney directs the training program and the Thursday Night Speed Workouts. He incorporates hills into the training for two important reasons: to build strength and mechanics before a season of more specific speed work in order to reduce injury risk and to prevent mental burnout through a workout that is beneficial, yet completely arbitrary. It allows people to come out, run hard, and get in a good workout without the stress of having to hit certain splits. Having a strength/ base phase between long build-ups is just as important mentally as it is physically.

Find your nearest hill and discover the speed and strength that lie within it and yourself. Come out to Fleet Feet on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. for all kinds of speed work—track workouts, long intervals, and of course, hills. Andrew and our staff will be on hand to answer any questions and to guide you towards a faster, stronger you.

Do you have questions about getting started or finding a plan to work for you? Stop in and talk to anyone on our staff. We’ll be happy to help!

Rachel Randall is the Marketing Director at Fleet Feet Sports. She is also a teacher, a musician, a mother of two active boys, and a runner. She finds a way to fit her runs in, but she does not clean her house unless you are coming over. For more information call (901) 761-0078 or visit our website at fleetfeetmemphis.com.

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