Archive for the tag - uphill

Running Uphill Vs. Flat: 5 Reasons to Love the Incline.

Last weekend, while staying at my aunt and uncle’s vacation house in Jackson, NH, I conquered “The Beast.”

My aunt and uncle live at the top of a long, winding mountain pass. The road is a few miles in length, but it climbs some 2,000 feet in elevation. To walk the beast is a challenge; to run the beast is nearly impossible. And yet on Sunday morning, that’s exactly what I did.

While the run was admittedly slow, I was successful in my effort. It wasn’t the length of the run that challenged me so much as the climb in elevation.

There are a few significant differences between uphill vs. flat running. Uphill running:

  1. Requires more energy. For every 1% increase in incline, runners expend 4% more energy. With a steep incline (like that of a mountain pass), the increases in energy expenditure are massive. Of course, the runner may need to slow down to compensate.
  2. Works upper leg muscles and butt. When running uphill, the engagement of your leg muscles shifts upward; it’s a great variation for frequent runners.
  3. Increases speed. While runners may need to slow down when running uphill, the muscles being strengthened are the same muscles required for sprinting. This will translate to faster times on flatter surfaces. Many sprinters train on inclines for this very reason.
  4. Reduces boredom. While running can get monotonous, adding an incline is a great way to spice things up. Whether outside or on a treadmill indoors, inclines can help keep things interesting.
  5. Increases workout efficiency. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that uphill running activates 9 percent more muscle each stride compared with exercising at the same relative intensity on level ground. Inclines give you more bang for your workout buck.

Most runners avoid hills or inclines because they’re difficult. In actuality, this is exactly why we need to do more of them. To that end, don’t be afraid to press the “incline” button on your treadmill; take your cardio to the next level. Instead of running around the hills, run through them. Attack – and conquer them.