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Do I really have to do hill sessions?

In my last post I talked about using ‘zones’ for training, and a great way to train in those higher intensity zones (i.e. 4 and 5) is to do hill reps.


I know, I know. I can hear the moans and groans from here. But trust me, these are the sessions that can make a massive difference in your training.


They’re hard yes. And really tough to motivate yourself to go out and do on your own, so tough recently with the various lockdown restrictions. But as of today we can run in groups of 6 again and believe me when I tell you that bang-for-buck these will give you the most return for your effort.



Firstly, the very fact that you are battling against gravity up the ascent means that you are working harder with every step. You can get a far tougher workout in less time – so perfect for the time-poor amongst us.


Secondly, the extra effort needed to overcome that gravitational pull means that we build our strength better than we do running on the flat. And as we all know that runners hate doing their strength exercises (I have another imminent post on this), what better way to do incorporate them than in a run itself?!?


Thirdly, the nature of running up-hill forces us to accentuate the best bits in our running form. We have to stand tall and look up the hill, drive with our arms to push ourselves up, lift our knees to account for the incline, and increase our cadence.


Next time you go out for a hill session try fixing just one of these elements of running form in your mind and really think about it throughout the session.


And finally, most races will have some sort of hill in them at some point. Especially if you’re running off-road. Every competitor has to face the same course, but if you can approach each hill with a smile rather than a frown you’ll find yourself flying past all those that have avoided their hills reps, and to such an extent they’ll never catch you again on the other side.


Hill reps don’t need to be long and boring so try mixing them up - variety is the spice of life after all:

  • Pick a given hill and effort up to the top and then recover down

  • Make it time-based and see how far you can climb in 1, 2, 3 or 5 minutes

  • Do as the Kenyan’s do and find a circular route with a hill and do laps at a constant level of effort – so slower going up and faster coming down

  • Or even build some hills in to your long run and make a commitment to effort up them, before recovering back to your steady pace

So now we can run in groups of 6 again, find some willing running buddies and head for those hills!


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