Woodie Hopper wrote:Also, note that running on flat ground doesn't train you for running (or hiking) on hills. If you throw in some hilly terrain you'll be much better prepared for hiking in the mountains, and you'll also crush people who haven't trained on hills when running a hilly road race.
Careful generalizing: I routinely run on relatively flat courses with smaller hills, although I run faster and longer than most when I train. Depending on your intensity of training, training on relatively flat terrain can certainly help with hiking in the mountains or running hilly road races. With that being said you are at a disadvantage compared to others that train at altitude or run hills.
It is important to bear in mind that it may be risky jumping into hill training before you establish a comfortable distance base, because if you don't, you may be setting yourself up for a preventable injury. Please keep this in mind if you are inexperienced and contemplating running on hills.
You are right - of course any good aerobic training, including running on flat ground, is better than not training for climbing. I should have said that running hills (in my experience) is better training for mountain climbing than running on flat ground. And I do agree (as would most running coaches) that you should have a good running base before starting hills, speed work, etc. - something like 25 miles a week minimum sounds about right.