#HillTraining #TheCoach’s Way – #InjuryFreeRunning #Barefoot:

My approach to hill training is unique in a number of ways – not the least of which is I do them fully BAREFOOT. These include:

  • implementing the Natural Method of movement
  • incorporating drills that activate all of the synergistic (support) running muscles of the body
  • using angles to better control the vagaries of any hill

To give you a flavour of how I do this, please note the following:

  • specific to the Natural Method, I will run off the regular hill trail (this could be a road, a path or a belt line) and climb into a tree, jump over a curb, veer through bushes at the side of a hill, climb over a fence into a field that leads uphill or any number of movements that challenge my body ‘outside the box’

As for unique drills that I do on the hills (both up AND down), here are a few examples:

side angled push-off 2-step forward and backward up and down hill to activate the hip adductors and abductors – important for maintaining a locked-in pelvic girdle and preventing injury to hips and knees

1-legged hopping weave forward, backward and sideways up and downhill to strengthen the feet, improve balance and squaring up of the body to avoid needless running ‘itis’ (inflammation)injuries

forward crossover, side to side leap, side deep lunge strides combination up and downhill to strengthen the hip flexors, gluteals and support ligaments and muscles around the Achilles Tendon

deep lunge running strides whilst weaving tightly up and down the hill to protect the quadricep muscles, hips and knees from injury whilst activating the calves, hamstring muscles and gluteals

Finally, in using angles to train on hills, I build in reaction time to the unexpected (uneven terrain, someone cutting me off, potholes, cracks, broken glass, ultra-steep drop-offs). A few of the angles I use regularly are:

  • forward push-off weave
  • quick step crossover to right and left
  • hop step in a range of 2 to 3 metres right or left
  • low knee drive with quick heel flick on a 30 degree angle mainly on steep downhills

The above represent a cross-section of only one of the many training sessions I use to not only control ANY type of hill…BUT to DOMINATE them. Of course, being able to do all of the above BARFEOOT gives me the added advantage of instant sensory feedback, proprioceptive firing from the feet through my whole body (thus helping me stay injury-free) and instant corrective response time to minimize fatigue and maximize power.

It doesn’t get any better…!!


coach Jeff


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