What the Hill?!

Hill Training Begins Tomorrow

This week your schedule says “30/hill.” If you are thinking “What is THAT?!” then this is the article for you.

First off, we should explain that these workouts are optional. If this is your first season running or walking with us, or even in general, you may elect to not try these workouts. Second, you’ll soon learn that not all workouts are created equally. Saturday mornings are intended to be your long, slow day. They should be done at an easy pace where you could hold a conversation with the person next to you. Out of breath? That means you are moving too fast.

During the week, we will play with speed training (which can be done on a track, or can be done in the middle of a regular session in your neighborhood), hill workouts, and tempo runs.

Hill work is conducted as “hill circuits” and not necessarily running a course that has hills on it nor is it running 30 minutes up and down a hill. On tomorrow’s schedule it will look like “30/hill.” The benefits of this workout are increasing our strength and learning how to control our pace when dealing with hills.

First thing to find is a good hill with a flat area at the bottom. This workout is a circuit workout because you are going to do multiple “circuits” varying uphill/downhill/flats.

Start with a ten minute or 1 mile warm-up on flat ground. At the end of the ten minutes or the mile, you should be near the bottom of the hill. Tip: start at the bottom of the hill and run away from the hill for five minutes. Turn around and return to hill.

Now, we are going to do “hill repeats” until it’s time for our cooldown. Your goal is to do about the same pace for all your “ups” so be conservative on your first one. For example, a 30/hill workout looks like this:

10 min warmup (easy on flats)
10 minute hill repeats (don’t sprint, but it can be at your “easy” pace — which may not feel as easy on the hill!)
10 min cooldown (easy on flats)

  • Lean slightly at the ankles, never at the hips
  • Don’t over stride downhill, relax and use it to recover
  • Land nearly flat footed – no heel striking going downhill
  • Keep arms at a 90 degree angle (pump your arms going uphill to assist your legs)

When uphill training: warm up, lean into the hill, shorten your strides, pump your arms, and lift your knees. Hills prepare the muscles for faster running without going anaerobic. Hill training will enable you to run better on all types of terrain. Find a hill (or treadmill) with a moderate grade. Warm up, run at about 85% effort and jog slowly down to recover. Start with about 3-4 hills and increase by one a week until you can run 8-12 hills.