How to train effectively for running hills

How to train effectively for running hills

Train for Running Hills

My favorite and most common place to run is a 3 mile FLAT gravel loop that has a 5 mile FLAT out and back on the road. Hills are hard. I don’t like hills. Sure, hills build character. But I don’t like hills. I usually pick races that are not hilly, even though I run my uber hilly hometown race Georgia Half Marathon and Thanksgiving Half almost every year. And of course, Boston Marathon with it’s (in)famous hills is next up on my race calendar. Obviously, I need to train for effectively running hills.

So, how do you train for running hills?

Apart from the obvious running of hilly routes (trails are my favorites), hill repeats can help build strength and conditioning. Hill repeats can be short or long. I prefer to do them in time intervals over distance intervals.

Types of Hill Repeats

Short Hill Repeats

  • Just 1 min long
  • Run up at 5k effort
  • Run/Walk down
  • Start with 4 and work your way up to 10

Long Hill Repeats

  • 2min/3min long
  • Run up with moderate effort to sustain effort & heart rate for all the duration
  • Easy run down
  • Start with 4 and work your way up to 10

Reverse Hill Repeats – What goes up must come down!

  • 2-3 min long
  • Run up with easy effort
  • Hard run down at 5k effort
  • Start with 4 and work your way up to 8/10

Before you start those hill repeats

Make sure you do a proper warmup of about 20 minutes and some strides before you hit that hill. And a cooldown after the workout.

Don’t choose a crazy steep hill, choose one that you can run up with some effort.
If on the treadmill, I do a 5.5% incline and the hill I run on outside is also a similar 4.5-5.5% gradient.

Pump your arms to give yourself added momentum while running hills.

Run with your body straight and avoid leaning forward or hunching over.

An Alternative for running down hills!

These past few weeks have been a washout in Atlanta and I’ve been running my hill repeats on a treadmill. I had reverse hill repeats and couldn’t figure out how to do that on a treadmill. My coach suggested doing Wall-Sits instead of the downhill running. Oof! I wasn’t able to hold it for more than 30 seconds, but they got easier as the repeats went by and also broke up the monotony of running hill repeats on a treadmill.

Wall Sits  to  train for running hills

How have you trained for hilly races?
What is something you’d advice against while training for hilly races?

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