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Q&A: What's Your Advice for Training for a Hilly Marathon?

What are the benefits of training on hills? Will hill workouts be good preparation for the bridges on the TCS New York City Marathon course?


The TCS New York City Marathon is full of hills, mostly in the form of the bridges that connect the five boroughs. Performing hill workouts, specifically ones of longer distances (up to half a mile) is essential to prepare not only your body, but also your mind for the course.  

Hill workouts are an important part of any training program. Running uphill helps to increase lower-body strength, increase cardiovascular fitness, increase cadence (turnover), and decrease vertical displacement,  defined as the distance traveled from mid-stance (a runner’s lowest point) to mid-flight (a runner’s highest point). The greater the vertical displacement, the greater the force with which a runner hits the ground. Greater forces are correlated with increased injury rates. Hill training will help runners conquer the hills of the marathon.

Running downhill is an important part of training for the TCS New York City Marathon course. The downhill sections can be much harder on your legs than the uphills, so adding easy downhills, repeated several times, will help increase leg strength and decrease fatigue.

Remember that hill workouts are considered to be an effort session, so you don’t want to run a hill workout one day and then do speedwork or a long run the following day. You need to allow your body the chance to recover from a harder effort.

Check out the TCS New York City Marathon course elevation map, as this will provide you with information on the elevation (height) and location of the hills along the course.


Julie Khan

Julie Khan is a physical therapist in the HSS rehabilitation department. She graduated from Columbia University with a masters and doctorate in physical therapy. Her clinical interests include post-surgical sports-related injuries and running mechanics. An avid runner herself, Julie enjoys rehabilitating runners and helping them get back to their sport safely and even stronger than before. She is a USATF Level 1 Coach as well as a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. She has completed more than 20 half-marathons and seven marathons, and presented at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.

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