Running hills for speed
Whether your an experienced runner or newbie, running hills can help your overall fitness. Running uphill is vital whether we like it or not. There are many tips and tricks to help improve your uphill running as well as boosting your speed.
In general, running hills can help promote a more economical form and provides less impact on your joints and connective tissues. Running hills also builds more power by using gravity to increase strength.
Why run hills?
Adding hills to your training can help improve strength, endurance, and form. Think of hills as a form of resistance training. It can help you develop your hamstrings, calves, glutes, and quadriceps.
If you are prone to injuries, running hills can help make not only the body stronger, but helps increase mental strength. As most runners know, it takes a lot of mental grit to run up those long steep climbs. Adding hill repeats and long steady hill running can help you become a more versatile runner.
How to run hills
Implementing short bursts of uphill running can help improve your speed and endurance. When you are running uphill, this requires you to focus on technique and footstrike. When you are running hills, try to look slightly forward but not entirely downwards, why? Because you start to affect your breathing pattern and oxygen consumption. Running with a somewhat forward vision will help your body stay upright without dropping the hips too much, and prevent losing the power of the gluteal muscles. Focus on pumping the arms with a forward lean, keeping the chest sticking out.
How often should you be running hills?
If your running hills for speed or just wanting to become a stronger runner. Focusing on running hills one to two times a week is enough for most runners.
Start by incorporating a hilly course into your training plan each week. Your long run is the perfect time to head out and explore while focusing on longer sustained climbs. Remember to keep the intensity low and focus on technique. The goal should be on volume and increasing the total time of uphill running each week. You will see a marked improvement in your aerobic fitness and also strength.
Running hills for the experienced runner
If you are a more experienced runner, running hills midweek as a form of specific training can benefit your overall fitness and speed.
Start with a moderate size climb and focus on 10-second sprints. As your training progresses, you can increase the number of hill repeats and also start to implement some longer hill workouts. The recovery during these 10-second sprints should be enough to allow your heart rate to drop below 120 bpm and prevent you from running less distance as the previous interval.
If you have a lot of mileage behind you and knowledge of basic training principles, you can implement longer hilling running into your plan. Hill workouts such as 4 x 5 minutes at your threshold can make remarkable progress early in your season and prepare you for the speed work to come. You can also implement such things as a tempo run over rolling hills. While these aren’t long, they provide an intensity close to your 15km race pace and help develop your threshold. You are also building strength and form into your running training.
Below are some running hill repeats and workouts that can help you become a more versatile runner.
Long hill repeats
Usually consisting of 2-3 minutes of hill repetitions, with jogging down as recovery. These hill repeats aren’t quite as intense as other hill workouts. These types of efforts implemented in the early stages of your season, such as the base period. The longer hill repeats will help to build strength in the beginning stages of your running training plan.
4-5 x 4min hills @ 10K pace
6 -8x 2min hills @ 10K pace (or slightly faster)
5-8 x 3min hills @ 10K pace
Short Hill Reps
Shorter hills repeats are more focused on speed rather than strength or endurance. During the shorter hill repeats, you would focus on the duration of 60-90 seconds. These types of hill running repeats are often quite intense and should be at the slowest, 5km race pace. These types of workouts are commonly used during mid-season or periods when your focus is on speed.
6-8 x 90sec hills @ 5km Pace
8-12 x 60sec hills @ 3km Pace
Progression repeats can also be used, such as 3x90seconds, 3×60 seconds, 3×30 seconds that begins at 5km race pace and gradually gets faster.
Hill sprints are often included in training across the entire season. The reason being they provide increased stride power, improved running economy, and helps strengthen bones, tendons, and muscles.
Hill sprints are only 8-10 seconds of duration, but require you to build up the speed to hit close to maximum effort at the end. Focus on 8-10 repetitions and make sure you spend around d60-90 seconds between recovering.