Hill Repeats - Intervals in disguise.. My quick guide to this amazing workout!
I hope everyone is having a good week, the weekend is nearly here.. and for most that means even more time we can spend out running!
So with that happy thought in your head.. For this weeks quick read, I wanted to have a chat about.. hills! Love them or hate them, they are such a great benefit to any training plan, whether your goal race is hilly or flat.
So here’s a quick Q&A on hills, answering some of the regular questions I get asked.
Why should we be running hills?
There are loads of reasons! Doing hill repeats will help build muscular strength and speed which is beneficial to all race distances. They are essentially intervals in disguise! Running uphill will also help improve your form as you are forced to run in a more exaggerated way which over time will translate to a faster and more effective running style when running on the flat. Plus running uphill is also a bit kinder on the joints and provides less impact than running fast on the flat.
How steep should the hill be?
Technically speaking, something around 5-8% gradient is ideal but if you aren’t sure or if you don’t have the perfect hill near you then any hill will do, don’t let that stop you! You can do hill repeats on short steep hills or on long shallower ones and adjust your pace or number of repetitions depending on the difficulty of the hill. If it’s shallow, run up it faster or do more repetitions, if its steep then run it a bit slower or do fewer repetitions.
What sort of pace should I be running at?
Don’t focus on speed or pace, instead focus on effort level. Try running at 85-90% effort on the way up and then have a really easy slow jog or walk back to the bottom to bring the heart rate down and recover. These are not all out sprints, you should feel like you are working hard but still in control.
Can you give me a hill workout to do?
Find a hill where you can run up for approx 60-90 seconds.
Start with a 10-15 minutes easy jog to get there and some dynamic stretching.
Run up the hill at 85-90% effort.
Walk or very slowly jog back down to recover.
Beginner - 4 Reps
Intermediate - 6 Reps
Advanced - 8 Reps
Finish with a 10-15 minute cool down jog.
What about the treadmill?
For those in flat areas or when the weather isn’t great, you can run hills on the treadmill. For four hill workouts I recommend have a look here https://www.benparkes.com/blog/2019/1/25/hill-workouts-on-a-treadmill-perfect-for-marathon-or-ultra-training
Hills are great to add into your routine every one to two weeks. Most training plans (including my own) will have these scheduled in.
What about hill running fast downhill?
If you’re running a marathon that has some downhill sections, such as Boston, then you might want to practice this now, so run up the hill slowly then a steady speed going down. This really helps build your quad muscles. For the majority of Spring marathon runners, the traditional fast up / slow down is the best option though.
So there we have it everyone, that’s my take on hills.. well worth adding to your routine and the benefits are so great in the long run.
Feel free to ask any questions below? Do you have any tips that could help others runners out? Have the hills helped you?
Have a great weekend.. see you out on the roads, trails and up those hills