As we go into the spring running season, the method of hill running not only builds strength to the muscles, but also power and speed. This added strength gives an added push-off and forward recovery of the leg muscles without the fatigue.

The hill training method is a more natural way of developing muscles rather than using weight lifting equipment. This endurance training will improve the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body, which increases the amount of oxygen supplied to working muscles.

However, since hill running causes you to hit the ground harder as you come downhill, there is a greater degree of stress to the muscles and bones which poses a greater risk for injury. It is therefore important to wear proper shoe gear with good stability and shock absorption.

Increasing flexibility is of the upmost importance in running as it will allow for a greater range of motion, allowing more ground to be covered on each stride, helping you to run faster.

One of the greatest advantages of flexibility is that it allows the muscles to apply force more directly to

the levers needed for efficient running, rather than against stiff tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue. The result is more efficient use of energy.

The hills will help you gain the speed for running your PR.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, he was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons & has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.

For info visit his Web site at www.stamfordhealthmedicalgroup.org