After running 8 hill repeats today in training for my ultra 50k next month, thought I would write about the challenging thrills of running hills. As you can see from the above training schedule, I’m running at least one hill workout on average (either just hilly or hill repeats). Hills are fun and here is why I say that: each time you look up the hill, you feel like you can’t possibly run all the way to the top. And then you do. Mission accomplished!
Center the hills within your workout (slow warmup minimum 1 mile, cooldown minimum 1 mile).
Here are some tips on running hill workouts:
1. Start small. You can see back in early July I was just supposed to do 45-60 min hilly runs with no hill repeats. That’s a good starting point. When choosing hilly terrain, make sure you aren’t going for the toughest hills right away. Save the tough hills for a “build” week in your training cycle. Pick a hill you truly like if you are running hill repeats because you will get to know that hill very well, as well as the trees, fallen branches, people, dogs, birds, and squirrels of the neighborhood.
2. Build from your hill base from “hilly” to “hill repeats”. For example, in July, I was to start doing 4-6 hill repeats (2 min hill). Hill repeats generally mean running the same hill (or adjacent ones) over & over. Late in this training cycle, you can see we reach 8 hill repeats this week.
3. Take a breather between hills if you need it. By this I mean walk for a short period of time instead of running. 1-2 min or less if possible. I’m trying to limit my recovery time to :15-:30.
4. After taking a deep breath, start each hill repeat with a mini-speed burst and try to accelerate up the hill as much as possible. Shorten your strides and aim for 180-200 steps/min cadence or higher. If you overstride, you will feel unnecessary fatigue.
5. Try to “pull” yourself up the hill with your arms and legs without wildly swinging your arms. No unnecessary motion.
6. Strive to “punch” each hill repeat all the way to the top of the hill or the 2 minute mark if you are running hill intervals. When you get tired, it’s tempting to back off before the top of the hill or the 2 minute mark. Don’t back off until you crest the hill or hit the 2 minute (or whatever hill interval you are using).
7. If you get bored running the same hill over and over, add an adjacent hill for the next hill repeat.
8. Hills build endurance. It won’t feel like it during the hilly or hill repeat workout but you will gain from it within a day or two. Certainly within the week.
9. Running hills is good for you. Variety adds spice to your running. Hills are a basic staple of a good runner’s workouts. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some hills.
10. Hills are just mounds of opportunity. Seize them! The hills are alive with the Sound of Music!