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Conquering Vert: Why Hill Training is Essential for Trail Racing Success

Running hills is an essential component of any successful training program for a trail race with a significant amount of elevation gain, commonly referred to as "vert." Whether you're a seasoned trail runner or a beginner looking to tackle your first race, incorporating hill training into your routine can yield numerous benefits. In this article, we'll discuss the advantages of hill workouts and highlight five fantastic training locations in Johannesburg to help you prepare for your next trail race.


Benefits of Running Hills
  1. Improved strength and power: Running uphill challenges your leg muscles, particularly your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Regular hill training will increase your strength and power, making it easier to tackle steep climbs during a race.

  2. Increased cardiovascular fitness: Hill running elevates your heart rate more than running on flat terrain. Over time, this increased cardiovascular workload leads to a stronger heart and improved endurance.

  3. Enhanced running technique: Uphill running encourages better form, including a shorter stride, higher cadence, and increased arm drive. These improvements will translate to more efficient running on both flat and hilly terrain.

  4. Mental toughness: Hill workouts can be challenging, both physically and mentally. Consistently completing tough hill sessions will boost your mental resilience, helping you persevere during the most difficult sections of a race.

  5. Race-specific preparation: Trail races with lots of vert require specific training to prepare for the demands of the course. Hill workouts mimic the race conditions and ensure you're ready to conquer the climbs on race day.


Top 5 Hill Training Locations in Johannesburg

The Goat, Kloofendal: This popular trail in Kloofendal Nature Reserve offers a mix of steep, technical climbs and more gradual ascents. Known as "The Goat," this challenging route is perfect for improving your uphill running strength and agility.


Red and Yellow Hills, Klipreviersberg Nature Reserve: The Klipreviersberg Nature Reserve boasts a variety of trails, including the Red and Yellow Hills, which feature multiple elevation changes. Runners can tackle various loops or out-and-back sections to create a hill workout tailored to their needs.


Pofadder Trails, Van Gaalen Cheese Farm: Located just outside Johannesburg, the Pofadder Trails at Van Gaalen Cheese Farm offer a diverse range of terrain to test your hill running prowess. With steep, rocky climbs and descents, these trails will push your limits and help you develop the strength and technical skills required for a trail race with lots of vert.




Cross Hill Climb, Cableway Ridge in Harties: The Cross Hill Climb is a challenging, steep ascent that will put your hill-running skills to the test. With a combination of rocky, technical sections and smoother dirt paths, this route offers an excellent opportunity to work on your climbing technique and build power in your legs.


Rocky Drive, Northcliff Hill: This residential area features a series of challenging climbs along Rocky Drive. The steep, paved inclines of Northcliff Hill provide an excellent opportunity to mix up your training with some hill repeats or longer, sustained climbs.


Incorporating hill workouts into your training program is a must for trail runners targeting races with significant elevation gain. Running hills will not only improve your strength, power, and cardiovascular fitness, but it will also enhance your running technique and mental toughness. By tackling the varied terrain of these five Johannesburg training locations, you'll be well-prepared to conquer the vert in your next trail race. Embrace the challenge, and watch your performance soar!

1 comentário


Patrick Rosslee
Patrick Rosslee
26 de mar. de 2023

Westcliff stairs and area.

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