Running hills, whether in a specific hill training session or hilly long run benefits a runner in a range of ways. This includes building leg strength, speed, and the reinforcement of a more efficient stride.
They are the uncelebrated hero of speed work, but for years have been a pillar in the early base training phase for runners and regardless of current ability, any runner can jump straight into them and reap the benefits.
When running uphill, the body is stressed in a different way than when running on flat terrain, and the results of this stress bring many positive benefits.
One of the standout benefits of running hills is less impact is applied on joints and muscles. This builds leg power in a safer way than running fast on the flat, making this a great workout for those who struggle with injuries. Hills also ‘force’ better running form, which leads to a more efficient stride.
Hill training is also very flexible and a wide range of running sessions can be tried. That is beauty in them, and why they can be used at any phase in a runner’s training schedule.
Today we will look at on particular hill session: Short speed hill repeats.
In short speed hill repeats, the session should be on a 4-6% grade hill, and each repeat will last between 60-90 seconds, followed by an easy recovery jog back down to the start, before turning and repeating.
A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance revealed that short hill repeats performed at a high-intensity over a six-week period, not only results in a more efficient running stride, but also on average participants in the study ran faster over a 5k time-trial.
Short speed hill repeats session
– Begin with an easy warm-up of 15 minutes.
– Perform 8 to 12 repeats of 60-90 seconds on a 4–6% grade (average gradient) hill.
– Easy effort recovery jog back down, turn and repeat.
– Instead of aiming for a specific pace on each repeat, listen to the body and judge it on effort (the aim is to complete each repeat with increased intensity).
– Your pace should fall somewhere between your 5k-10k race pace.
– Focus on pushing off from the ball of your foot.
– Finish and cool down with an easy jog lasting 15 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, hill training offers great flexibility. Based on your current fitness level, you can adjust the number of repeats, experiment with the effort or pace, and also the length of each repeat.