Uphill sections can often be the scourge of any running route, with the act requiring plenty more power and effort from the body than when running on flat ground.
It can also be tough to know just how good (or bad) you are at tackling them, with hills coming in different gradients and lengths.
Luckily, that's where Garmin Hill Score comes in.
Whether you're just trying to improve at taking on the hills at your local Parkrun or you're trying to incorporate more uphill workouts into your training, Hill Score is a superb tool to help you understand your current ability - and how to improve.
So, let's dive into everything there is to know about the uphill running score - including which Garmin watches it's currently available on.
What is Garmin Hill Score?
Hill Score grades your ability to run uphill on a scale of 1-100, with the figure automatically updated after any running, hiking or walking workout that includes an uphill segment of more than 2% incline.
This score is also categorized to help provide a little bit more context, with one of the Recreational, Challenger, Trained, Skilled, Expert or Elite labels shown alongside. This is relative to others of the same gender and age.
Which Garmin watches have Hill Score?
- Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) series
- Garmin Epix (Gen 2)
- Garmin MARQ (Gen 2)
- Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series
- Garmin Fenix 7 series
- Garmin Forerunner 965
- Garmin Forerunner 955
- Garmin Forerunner 265
- Garmin Forerunner 255
- Garmin Enduro 2
- Garmin Tactix
How Hill Score is calculated
Your overall Hill Score is determined by assessing three things: Hill Endurance, Hill Strength and your VO2 Max.
These factors consider your ability to sustain pace during inclines (Hill Endurance), sustain running power during inclines (Hill Strength) and oxygen consumption during periods of travelling uphill (VO2 Max).
Longer distances with more gradual slopes fall into the Hill Endurance score, while shorter bursts and steep inclines will assess your Hill Strength.
Garmin also indicates that your most recent activities have the most influence over your current Hill Score, though data over several months is used to form the final calculation.
How to improve your Hill Score
Understanding how Hill Score is calculated is a big part of knowing how to improve it.
Theoretically, improving your Hill Strength score may look like incorporating more short and steep inclines into your workouts while focusing on sustaining your power.
And, to complement that final figure, improving Hill Endurance would be more focused on seeking gradual inclines and maintaining an even pace throughout.
A compatible Garmin watch will provide some insights into improving your Hill Score, but they're not particularly enlightening, in our view.
A great way to begin improving your Hill Score is to start taking notice of which workouts have a positive impact on it - and those which are more focused towards building your Endurance Score or balancing your Training Load.
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