Hill workouts to make you a stronger runner

3 hill sessions to make you stronger

3 hill workouts

Targeting a hilly route on your regular runs is a great way to integrate hill work into your training. However, it’s also worthwhile allocating one day a week to hill work. Hill sessions are a perfect way to mix up your training and are great for those days you’re short on time!

Hill workouts: Simple hill repeats

The simplest of hill sessions is running up a hill and the walking or jogging back down again, before repeating. The session can be adapted for all abilities of runner – as you get fitter you simply do more reps.

The key with this, and all hill sessions, is to concentrate on maintaining good hill running technique. Keep your shoulders relaxed and drive your elbow back to help power your legs up the hill.

The Session

Run at an easy pace for 15 minutes before stopping at a hill. Pick a hill that is long enough to accommodate a few minutes of effort running up and not so steep that you have to stop before the minute is up. Forget about pace and run to effort instead.

  • 15 minutes easy
  • 6x 1 min uphill at 8/10 effort
  • Walk or jog back down for 2-3 mins to recover
  • 15 minutes easy

Make it harder: add distance to the beginning or end of this hill session to fit your training, and make the hill effort longer up to 2 minutes.

Hill workouts: Kenyan hills

This tempo style hill session is synonymous with Kenyan athletes. If it’s good enough for the world’s best distance runners, it can’t hurt to add it to your training schedule.

Instead of running hard up a hill and then recovering on the downhill, you’re going to run at a constant effort around a hilly loop for a set period before taking a complete recovery.

Plot out a short loop in your local park that includes at least one hill. It doesn’t matter how long or short your loop is as you’ll be running to time instead of distance.

The session

Start with an easy 10 min run on the flat before moving to your hilly loop. Run at 6-7/10 effort for 5 minutes, completing as many loops as you can in that time. Run strong up the hills and maintain your effort level on the flat and downhill. Take a rest then repeat for the next interval.

  • 10-minute, easy jog on the flat
  • 3x 5 minutes at 6/10 effort, hilly loop
  • 3 min walk recovery between efforts
  • 10-minute, easy jog on the flat.

Make it harder: adjust the length of your efforts anywhere up to 8 minutes, but keep your recovery 3-5 minutes.

Hill workouts: Pyramid session

Pyramid sessions replicate the variety of hills you might find yourself faced with in a race by mixing up the duration of your intervals. It’s called a ‘pyramid’ session because the length of the intervals get longer as you go up one side of the pyramid and then shorter as you come down the other side.

The session

Warm up on the flat and then run up your hill and jog back down for different lengths of time. Adjust your speed so that you run faster on the shorter efforts than the longer ones.

  • 10 minutes easy
  • Uphill efforts of 45 sec, 1 min, 90 sec, 2 min, 90 sec, 1 min, 45 sec uphill jog back down to recover
  • 10 minutes easy

Make it harder: at the end of your session add in 4x 10 second all-out hill sprints with 1 minute walking recovery in between.

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