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This seems like something I should know by now and I just never asked.  Maybe I don't know because I started running on mostly flat land so elevation gain/loss was like 5m.


What do you use elevation gain/loss for?  People track it as a factor and I get the vague logic that a positive number is uphill (difficult) and a negative number is downhill (easy), but is there some use in quantifying or qualifying your elevation in your training?

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TL/DR: running up hills works your leg muscles to make them stronger, which helps you run faster on flat ground.


I do a lot of hill training because I have a tendency to run races with hills (hello Spartan, I see you on that mountain), so it logically makes sense to be able to run up a hill just as fast as I run on a track. Anecdotally, I've found that my flatter runs are faster now than they were before, so it works for me (my last flat run was about 1:00 faster than my traditional training runs). 


Oddly enough also, while running downhill is considered easier on your cardiovascular system, it's not necessarily easier on your legs. While momentum makes your body want to go faster, your legs are braking, putting more pressure on them than uphill or flat running. It also activates muscles differently. 

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