I’m Khristina and I love running the trails of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains! I was a distance runner at Liberty University and have stayed in the running scene by entering some great races like the Virginia 10 Miler.
I have learned how important it is to conquer hills. Adding hill training to your workouts will not only make race day more fun but could also result in your best finish time ever!
Here are some tips on how to conquer those hills and your competitors this fall:
1. Don’t fear the hill, conquer it
First things first… it’s a mental game. You cannot begin to conquer a hill if you don’t have the right mindset. Telling yourself you can conquer a hill before and during is crucial. Believe in yourself and don’t give up. Find your positive mantra: “I love hills and hills love me!”
2. Strength Training
Strengthening your muscles will help prevent injuries. I recommend doing body weight training. Focusing on your Achilles, glutes, hamstrings, and core are important to help your overall performance. After your run, do some calf raises, squats, lunges, and ab workouts to help strengthen your muscles.
3. Lift Your Knees
Some of the best advice I ever received about conquering Lynchburg hills was from a former teammate who was an NCAA national champion runner: “Lift your knees.” As soon as I tried it I felt a difference in the way I was able to scale a hill. It might have been that one of the best distance runners gave me running advice, but what do you know – I started running hills like a champ!
4. Hill Repeats
Practice makes perfect. If you want to conquer a hill, you have you have to run hills! A treadmill just isn’t going to cur it. For your next work out, use a mixture of hills, some short and some long, some steep and some not so steep. If you are preparing for a race like the Virginia 10 Miler, I would recommend doing 2-5 sets of hill repeats on a low incline hill for 1-3 minutes depending on your level of running. The next week I would switch it up and do 3-6 sets of short, high inclined hills.
5. Keep Going
Don’t give up! You will reach the top of that hill, just keep going! When you start to near the top of the hill, don’t slow down or stop. Once I reach the top of a hill I count 12 strides and focus on my breathing. It not only helps me keep up my pace, but my mind isn’t thinking about giving up.
Khristina Kanagy was an NCAA cross country and track and field runner at Liberty University. Originally from North Carolina, she now resides in Lynchburg. You can find her training on Rivermont Avenue each weekend now until race day.