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Hill Training For Runners

February 19, 2014

Guess what? I ran 3 miles this morning without any foot pain! Woo hoo! On the road to recovery and Boston Bound! Positive thoughts here today.  🙂  To celebrate, I wanted to share some of my favorite hill drills with you because hopefully I’ll be running them again soon. Honestly, I miss running hills!  Hill training has been a decent part of my training plan this training cycle to make me stronger, and when I think of Boston, I think of “Heartbreak Hill” so this is a good mental training exercise for me as well. There is something so satisfying about finishing a hard hill workout.

Visiting Heartbreak Hill Running Company over Christmas vacation in Bostno

Visiting Heartbreak Hill Running Company over Christmas vacation in Boston! Of course I bought a t-shirt and then drove the hill.

No matter what race or distance you’re training for, running hills is a great way to change it up and become a well-rounded runner. There are also many benefits including stronger quads, hammys, glutes, calves, hip flexors, increased lung capacity, mental toughness…you get the picture. If you’re having a tough time deciding which hill workout to try, Competitor Group posted an informative article that can help you decide how to incorporate hills into your training plan. Just remember to keep good form and run tall! I have a tendency to collapse as I’m running…not good form. I need to work on that. My coach, Beth Gerdes, has given me a variety of hill workouts that are very sweaty and satisfying, and here are a few of them.

Short Hill Workout/”Sprints”
Duration: 1 hour
Type of hill needed: Very steep incline (7-10+%)
Workout: Easy 2-3 mile warm-up.  Complete 10-12 x 30 second hill SPRINTS. Rest 1 to 2 minutes between each ascent with easy jogging. Complete your run with cool down miles up to 1 hr.

Long Hill Workout
Duration: 1:15
Type of hill needed: Challenging grade (pick your pain), and long. (San Diegans, I like to do this one up Torrey Pines – inside track at 8%! Outside is 5.5%.)
Workout: Easy 2-3 mile warm-up. Complete 5 x 5 minute hills with 2-3 minute recoveries (jog down hill). Effort level should be high, but HR should stay at 88% or below of max HR.  Cool down easy jogging 20 minutes.

View from Torrey Pines during a gorgeous sunset. Almost makes the hills hurt less.

View from Torrey Pines during a gorgeous sunset. Almost makes the hills hurt less.

Treadmill Workout: “Gradual Incline Hills”
Duration: 1 hour
Type of hill needed: None. Just a treadmill! Perfect when you don’t have a hill nearby.
Workout: Easy 2 mile warmup (treadmill at .5% or 1% incline). Complete 3x 7-minute “hills” – beginning at 1% grade. Each minute, increase the grade by 1% until you run the last minute at 7%. Do not change speed! Rest 5 min between hills at the same speed, but incline is down to 0%. Cool down to 1 hour at incline .5% to 1%.
Note: This workout can be changed to outside if necessary: Run 3×7 minute hills of 3 to 5% grade or 2×11 minute hills

Driving towards the finish line of Boston Marathon! No more hills here. :)

Driving towards the finish line of Boston Marathon! No more hills here. 🙂

What’s your favorite hill workout?

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2 Comments
  1. So glad to hear your foot pain is dissipating! I did my first hill repeats of the season yesterday and they completely kicked my butt. By my last repeat my legs were barely turning over and my posture was absolutely terrible. Thanks for the reminder to run tall 🙂

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