This post will introduce you to the world of hill sprints and hopefully demonstrate that doing them can be an all-around great experience! Hill sprints reward you with a sense of triumph upon completion, a great physical workout, and benefit your brain. Anyone can engage in a hill sprint, anytime, and almost anywhere. By hill sprint I mean finding a convenient slope close to your home or work, getting set with a stop watch at the base of it, and running at your appropriate pace up it for the 20-40 seconds it takes to complete. A hill sprint is not specific to just one particular distance or incline either- depending on your physical abilities you can make your way up any sort of slope at any speed you desire.
5 reasons to sprint a hill are:
- You feel like a champion at the top
- They are quick
- Can be done anywhere
- They benefit your brain
- You notice the benefits right away
- Feel like a champion!There is both a physical and mental challenge when sprinting a hill. While that little bulge in the landscape may seem rather insignificant looking at it from a distance, you will quickly recognize the physical challenge at the halfway point, pumping your arms and legs like a madman while scrambling to the top. There gets a point where your legs lose their juice and the hill seems to get steeper and steeper. The cool part is that you have it inside you to push and get to the top. Pushing yourself and overcoming this little obstacle is an extremely rewarding experience and you will live in triumph for the rest of the day after conquering your hill. Hill sprints can be pretty taxing on the body if you push it too hard so if you are new to them, start slow. The objective is to be able to be faster 4, 6, 8, or however many weeks later, so pushing yourself to the max and burning out or getting injured in the first week does you no good.
- Hill sprints are quick. You can easily fit a hill sprint into your busy schedule. Depending on your physical ability, you can do anywhere from 1-10 sets of sprints. You will be able to know how many sets are appropriate for you once starting and if in doubt, error on the cautious side. A typical sprint ranges from 20-40 seconds and if you do more than one set, typically a short, 1-2 minute rest is sufficient. So take a quick jolt over to a nearby hill, sprint your set or two with a couple minutes rest, and feel like a champion for the rest of the day!
- Sprints can be done anywhere. Regardless of where you live, you will be able to easily find a suitable place to sprint. If you live on the prairies, you might be limited to a flatter slope but you will still reap the benefits of a good sprint. Once you get into hill sprints, it will be easy to start scoping out cool, new places to sprint anywhere you go. The once boring, inclined street in the city will soon become a new territory that you can conquer.
- Hill sprints benefit your brain. Along with providing a great physical workout that you will feel throughout your body, sprinting benefits your brain in many ways. Sprinting has positive effects on the brain through several mechanisms, including neurogenesis, mood enhancement, and endorphin release. Neurogenesis is basically the creation of neurons on the hippocampus, the learning center of the brain. Studies have shown improved mood upon physical exertion, as well as the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals released by the brain in response to pain or stress. These chemicals help minimize the discomfort of exercise and play a role in sense of euphoria felt by some after intense physical exercise.
- Benefits are noticed quickly after starting sprinting. It is recommended that you take a stopwatch or a friend with you on your hill sprint. There is nothing better for your development than having a specific metric to measure your progress or a competitor running beside you that you are looking to beat. Once you have started taking note of your times and pushing yourself to beat them, you will get faster and faster. The best part is that you will notice the benefits immediately. After your first hill sprint you will have that sense of triumph, your brain will have released those beneficial chemicals, and your body will begin repairing itself to be faster the next time you line up at the bottom of your hill. Expect to have some more spring in your step walking around or going up stairs after just a week or two of doing sprints. Feel free to comment and explain other benefits you started noticing after doing some sprints.
The following will outline how you can get started hill sprinting:
- Search for a hill close to your home or work that is convenient for you to access
- Start with just a single hill sprint at a pace you can handle
- Give yourself at least one day of rest for your body to recover
- Start with running your hill twice per week and start timing after 1 or 2 weeks
- Work up to sprinting 3 times per week or however many times you are comfortable
- Get a friend or many friends to join you to push each other and have a blast competing
- Set a 4 or 6 week goal, watch your times drop, and feel stronger and faster along the way!
Hill sprinting has a ton of benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing and can be a ton of fun. So get to the base of your closest hill, run it, and be able to say you hill conquered that beast! Feel free to post times/progress/experiences in the comments!