As the spring weather beckons us outdoors, runners are hitting the pavement with a renewed sense of purpose. Whether you’re training for your first 5k or your tenth marathon, hill workouts are a vital component of speed work that can benefit any runner, regardless of skill level or experience.
Running uphill against gravity stresses your body in unique ways, resulting in fantastic adaptations and benefits. Hills provide specific strength work that runners need, and they are less impactful on joints and connective tissues than flat terrain. Additionally, running uphill helps reinforce a more efficient stride and builds power more safely than running fast on flat terrain.
While hill workouts may not be race-specific, they have a valuable place in any training program and can be used at any time during the season. They are versatile and can be used in the early base training phase, the middle competition period, or even late in the season during the taper, depending on how the workout is completed.
Here are the hill workouts and how to best implement them into your training plan:
Short hill repetitions are a classic VO2 Max workout that helps the body increase its ability to deliver and process oxygen to hard-working muscles. Examples of short hill rep workouts include 10 x 90sec hills at 5k pace, 8 x 60sec hills at 3k pace, and a descending ladder of 3x90sec, 3x60sec, and 3x45sec starting at 10k pace and getting progressively faster.
Long hill repetitions of 2-4 minutes are a more challenging workout and should be incorporated into the earlier stages of training. Examples of long hill rep workouts include 5 x 3 min hills with a jog down recovery and 8 x 2 min hills at a 10k pace.
Hill sprints are an outstanding workout that can be done anytime during a training season. They are very effective at improving neuromuscular training and can help increase a runner’s stride frequency and power. Hill circuits are a good workout for the middle or later phases of the training cycle and provide an opportunity to mix up your workout routine.
In conclusion, hill workouts are a valuable tool for runners looking to improve their speed, strength, and endurance. With a variety of workouts to choose from, runners can tailor their training program to meet their individual needs and goals. So, the next time you encounter a hill, embrace the challenge and enjoy the thrill of swooshing down the other side.