In lieu of the new study in hill repeats increasing 5K performance, it is time we all learn the best practices for running up an incline in hopes of being that much tougher than your foe down the final stretch. While hill repeats are hard and can really hurt, that is the nature of our sport. If you aren’t willing to put yourself through the grinder, than you aren’t going to produce a fast time. Below are some tips on how to best utilize hill repeats in your training.
The best way to effectively use hill repeats is as an early progression in your training. While a runner’s build up should include base training, followed by introducing workouts, hill repeats should be used a buffer in between the two. While still building up mileage, hill repeats can be thrown in once a week on top of a regular run. It should be done on one of your future workout days, and along with fartleks, be phased out when race specific workouts are introduced.
To start adding in hill repeats, you need to start slow. The best way to do this is to add a few repeats at the end of a regular run on your soon-to-be workout day. The hill repeats will start out short, fast and in small amounts, but will steadily increase as the season goes on. With your first couple attempts, start by doing two to four 8-10 second repeats up a steep hill. The incline of the hill is up to you, but the actual time spent sprinting should be near an all-out pace.
As the season progresses, hill repeats can become longer and more applicable to distance races. While they should still be an addition to your regular run, adding 30 seconds to two-minute repeats as a workout, on top of a set easy distance run, will help you ease into workouts and build strength without the strain of general repeat workouts. This will be a perfect introduction into race specific workouts, regardless of what type of race you are gearing up for.
If non-track or road races are in your future, hill repeats can be added to your regular workouts. This can involve doing hill sprints as a supplement at the end of a workout or doing your workout at a specific location where a hill will interfere with your running. For example, if you are doing 800M repeats you can find a place where a portion of the 800 will involve a short, steep incline. Though your time will suffer, the intensity will add to the workout, and help strengthen your body. This will directly affect your racing abilities.
Enjoy your training, and don’t fear the hills; they will only aid you in hitting fast times!