Running Hill Training Pt. 2 – Hill Bounding
By Michelle the Runner
I’ve been very interested in the concept of running hill training bounding since my return from San Francisco. The one factor that I have no control over in my training is my terrain. Unless I pack up and move to Colorado or some other rocky mountain range, I have to work with what I have.
Hill Bounding is a great hill workout to perfect your form and build strength without needing large mountain ranges. You’re specifically strengthening your Quads and ankles, which help you, push off harder. This all works together making your stride stronger and longer.
Hill bounding is actually an aerobic type of training unlike hill repeats, which will put you into an anaerobic system.
Tip 1: Bound up the hill slowly. Key word here is slowly. It’s supposed to be very methodical and focus is on technique, I repeat not speed. There is a time and place for all types of hill training. This is a very specific training that requires lots of restraint.
Tip 2: Lift your quads parallel to the ground. Exaggerated movements means you are doing it correct.
Tip 3: Push-off with you Ankles. It should feel springy and like you’re bounding.
Tip 4: Keep proper form in your pelvis area. You want your pelvis to be forward and balanced during the workout.
Tip 5: Your stride. The length of the each forward stride will be the distance from your hip to your knee.
When do you do this kind of workout? It’s generally done in phase 2 of training, which is known as the strength-training phase. It’s during phase 2 where you are teaching your body form and strength to make you more efficient and faster going into phase 3. Phase 2 is always my favourite period of training and the scariest. This is the time when your mileage might be a little lighter, so you have some time to hit the gym and work on body strength. It’s a good time to focus on core strength and recruit the muscles you will need during your hill training workouts.
Phase 2 is the also where I see the most injuries occur. Never enter phase 2 training with an injury or if you’re feeling under the weather. There have been a number of seasons I trained through phase 2 staying in phase 1 and moving straight to phase 3. My body wasn’t able to handle the load of phase 2. It’s better to air on the side of caution. Tears are the most commons injuries and these are generally, undertrained athletes moving ahead too soon, incorrect hill form or simply not enough warm up.
Getting in one hill workout a week for the duration of phase 2 training is considered ideal for the average athlete. Phase 2 usually only goes on for 4-5 weeks. More advanced athletes can and should add a hilly run to any of their easier run days. I was taught by a very talented coach and runner to take a hilly route once every other week and practice hill bounding or hill surges for the duration of the hill. I can tell you those seasons I got strong very fast.
I will repeat myself in case you’ve been skimming this article. Hill training and especially hill bounding should not be attempted if you are recovering from an injury or currently injured. You should be taking to the hills with strong and balanced muscles to get through the next 4-5 weeks healthy.
Where you decide to hill bound is really up to you. Road, trails or stairs all work well. Slow, slight gravel grade or a steep grassy hill will make no difference because this is a slow and form focused workout. It’s recommended to do no more than 1-2 repeats of a 50-70M hill. Once you complete the distance, SLOWLY jog down the start of the hill and repeat.
These are three specific types of bounding:
VERTICAL BOUNDING: Drive off the toes of the plant foot, lifting the opposite knee high, and emphasize vertical lift; land on the opposite foot and repeat.
HORIZONTAL BOUNDING: Same as vertical bounding, except that we emphasize the length (not height) of the bound.
SKIP BOUNDING: Same as vertical bounding, except that we land on the same foot that initiated the bound, then take a short step forward onto our opposite foot, spring vertically, land on that foot, and then repeat the whole process. (Source)
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. YouTube is an archive of hill bounding video’s waiting for you to watch them!