Hill Workouts for Runners

Hill workouts are one of the best ways for runners to prepare for road and cross country races. Not only do hill workouts prepare you for the hills in a race, they also build muscle and teache your body to run fast when you’re struggling for oxygen. They are an essential part of any training program. Here are a few pointers about hill workouts.

How To Run Hill Workouts

Hill workouts involve running up a hill at a fast pace and jogging back down over and over. You should try to find a hill between 200 and 400 meters. Also, be sure that the hill isn’t too steep, and also not too flat, but has a medium slope. What’s medium? Well, flat enough that you can actually run all the way up, and steep enough that the workout makes you breathe hard.

When you start to do hill workouts, begin with around 4 repeats, and gradually increase week by week until you can get up to 8 repeats. Remember that hill work is hard on the lower legs, and can aggravate injuries like achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and shin splits. If you feel pain in any of these areas don’t do not attempt hill workouts. One other note: jog for 5-10 minutes to warm-up before you do the repeats. After the workout, jog 5-10 minutes to cool-down. Never start your workout without warming up before hand!!

Maintaining Weekly Mileage

Due to the intensity of hill workouts, it’s hard to run very many miles on a hill work day. Therefore, I recommend you do your hill running in the morning and, in the evening, put in 3-4 easy miles. This way you can get in the hill workout without sacrificing the miles.

Frequency of Hill Workouts

See the section on speed training in my base building section to understand how often you should do hill workouts.

Back to Training