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How Running Hills Affects Your Speed

Posted Jan 01 2010 9:44pm

I always hear the advice that one way to get faster is to start running hills. Unfortunately, Chicago is pretty flat so I never get the chance to do any hill work. This hurt me in the recent Philadelphia Marathon because there were some tough hills at mile 9, 13, and 18.

This story from Canadian Running magazine gives a summary of some research on hill running that is interesting.

Running Hill facts

Here are a few facts.

1. On average people run 23% slower up hill and only 13.8% faster down hill.

It makes sense going up hill is harder than going down hill.

2. You can pick up speed if you got better at running downhills.

Most people go slower down hill than they need to.

3. People slow down about 0.082 m/s for every 1% change in gradient.

Proving a linear relationship between steepness and speed.

Joggling on hills

One thing I would like to add is that when you are joggling, hills provide an added challenge. I’ve found that if I increase the height of my juggling throws, I’m able to swing my arms harder which aids is going up hill. And for joggling downhill, you have to remember to throw the balls out a little farther and lower to compensate for the added speed.   See this post for some more hill running tips.

And here’s some video of what it’s like to joggle up a steep hill.

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