Hill training is often called “speed work in disguise”, since muscular power and running economy are really boosted with these workouts. The better you get on hills the more runners you can pass and the faster your Finishing Time will be. Even if you train and race on the flats, hills will help improve performance, and it’s a great workout to do by yourself since the hill alone will make sure you get enough of a challenge.
*Hill Repeat Guidelines
Hill training is different from hill running, since in daily runs you try to get up hills as economically as possible with the goal of minimizing effort. And although running hills often at training pace improves over-all strength, it won’t make you faster. To get that benefit, you have to repetitively work the hills hard. Hill Repeats are basically like track intervals, but you go up instead of around. With any hill repeat, run easy for 15 – 20 minutes first on the flats, and then run the first repeat slightly slower than your goal intensity. From that point on, run fast, but under control at about 85% effort. Emphasize good form—Push off your feet, drive your arms, lift your knees and run all the way up and over through an imagined Finish Line at the top. Recover by running back down nice and easy. Here’s a look at a few Hill Training options for you:
>Long Hill Repeats: These are similar to running long intervals on the track. Find a moderate-grade (5-8% or 3-4 d
egrees) hill. It should take about 2 to 5 minutes to run up at your 5K to 10K race pace effort. Long hills are particularly good for building strength, speed and endurance for the half-marathon and marathon distances. Novice runners can aim for 3-4 repeats, while seasoned competitors can aim for 5-6.
>Short Hill Repeats: These are short, but steep (vs. sweet). Short-Hill repeats are great for sharpening speed for 5K to 10K races since they’re run at faster than race pace effort. They’re of similar benefit to short, hard and fast-paced intervals on the track. Pick a hill that’s 50 to 200 yards long and steep enough (10-15% or 7-9 degree grade) to really challenge you. It should take about 30-90 seconds to get to the top. You actually don’t have to run these too fast since gravity will take care of the intensity for you. Envision that you’re running to a finish line at the crest of the hill, and you’ll be improving your form, strength and speed all the way. Novices can do 4-5 repeats of these short hill repeats at 5K-10K intensity or faster, while more experienced runners can aim for 8 to 10, at about 30 seconds per mile faster than 10K pace.
> Continuous Rolling Hills Fartlek: The Swedish term fartlek means “speed play” and that’s exactly what you do with this run as it involves spontaneous changes of pace over varying terrain and distances. Although more of a ‘Continuous’ run versus a ‘Repeat’, Fartlek is a great way to introduce speed training prior to hitting the track for more intense work. Your legs get accustomed to switching gears often while you enjoy a great change of pace from the confined structure of track intervals. I find this work-out to be the most fun and beneficial when you get off the beaten path and seek out trails or grassy fields. Try to incorporate a course with a variety and series of hills ranging in grade for moderate to steep, and distances from 100 yards to ¾ miles. Accelerate up and over the top of each hill at race pace, then run between them at base-training pace. Throw in a few short bursts between hills if you go too long (more than 5 minutes) between hills. The more varied and unexpected the experience, the better. It’s just like being a kid again!
So when you need a break from your traditional track or interval speed training, mix in some hill training…Let your inner speedster out and capture a surefire way to get stronger and faster…After all,
“It’s easier to go down a hill than up,
But the view is much better at the top”.
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~
Dedicated CT RACE IN THE PARK Coach