Running Speed, Hit the Hills Season Long
Matt Russ - The
healthy dose of hill running should be included in your
workouts each week. Hill work is some of the most
productive training you can perform. There is no doubt
that runners who regularly hit the hills get faster.
However, you should vary your hill routines, throughout
the season just as you should vary your training. Because
hill work is more stressful, progression is important.
am often asked if running outdoors is more productive than
running on the treadmill. The answer is that they both
have their place in a good running plan. The advantage of
the treadmill is that you can set your work-out
parameters. If you are trying to keep your heart rate down
during base training, you simply select a pace that keeps
your heart rate in zone. With hill work you can vary the
pace and incline to create just the right amount of stress
for your workout. It may be hard to find a long hill with
a steady incline so the treadmill can create just that.
You do not want to start off your hill work with too steep
of an incline. With the treadmill you can increase the
incline slightly each week and the resistance is constant.
That being said, many athletes find it difficult to stay
focused indoors on a treadmill. It is important to include
runs on varied terrain and downhill. The treadmill does
not provide this. As you get closer to your goal race, I
recommend trying to duplicate the race course and spend
less time on the treadmill.
most important aspect of base training is staying aerobic
and keeping your heart rate down. Hills will obviously
drive your heart rate up but that does not mean you should
eliminate them in base training. In fact, this is the best
time to build a strength basis for the season. As the
season progresses, intensity should as well. The following
workouts are in order of progression throughout the
season. It is important to follow this progression or
overtraining and / or injury could result.
Walk to run faster? Correct; I start even my fastest and
most seasoned athletes out with hill walking. Walking on a
steep incline can get your heart rate up just as much or
more than a slow run and there is less impact and
eccentric load. It is a great way to strengthen the
gluteals, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Hill walking is
performed during transition phase and early base training.
I also recommend trail hiking.
/ Endurance Hill Intervals :
This workout is a bit more structured. I start the athlete
out at a low base aerobic level and bump it up to a higher
aerobic level towards the end of base and into general
preparation periods. I prescribe intervals of 5-20 minutes
with 5-10 minutes of recovery between efforts, up to two
times per week. Pace and incline must be adjusted to keep
heart rate in zone. This may mean running very slow, but
you will feel resistance on your legs. A good work out for
the treadmill but it can definitely be performed outdoors
with a little planning.
Hill Intervals :
We take the top of your aerobic zone and hold a narrow
heart rate range. Because this workout is more precise, it
is easier to perform on the treadmill. Again, I prescribe
intervals of 5-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes of recovery
between efforts, up to two times per week.
This is one of my favorite workouts. On a hilly course,
you will push hard on the uphill sections and run a
relaxed pace on the down hill. This is not a very
structured workout and is best performed outdoors. Fartlek
hills build strength, power, and aerobic capacity.
Hill Intervals :
These hill intervals are performed at a much faster pace.
Your heart rate will be slightly below threshold or your
5k race pace. I prescribe intervals of 5-15 minutes long
with at least 10 minutes of recovery between intervals.
Perform this workout no more than 1 time per week.
Bounds are a springing motion with plenty of vertical
power. Picture leaping from point to point with a long
stride as you climb a hill. You want to work on producing
a quick, explosive power. I prescribe hill bounds of 50-75
meters. Recovery is a slow walk back down the hill.
Usually 4-8 of these will be enough. Perform this workout
no more than 1x per week.
Now we're talking?.This is hill speed work with no heart
rate prescribed. On a hill of approximately 100 meters,
start off at a moderate pace and build to a sprint. In the
last 10 seconds sprint as hard as you can to the top of
the hill. I prescribe this work out no more than 2 times
per month in race preparation period. I may prescribe
several sets of 3-4 hill sprints. Recovery between sets is
10-15 minutes of easy running. Recovery between efforts is
a slow walk back down the hill.
These are a technique drill. A lot of runners slow their
stride rate and lengthen their stride as they attempt to
power up a hill. The exact opposite should take place.
Count your strides going uphill. Your stride rate should
be around 30 right foot strides in 20 seconds. Work on a
short, fast, efficient uphill stride. You should perform
these in all periods throughout the season.
forget that hill work is more stressful than running the
flats. It is important to increase incline gradually and
to let your body adapt. If you experience any calf or
Achilles area pain, stop immediately and take a few days
off. Do not resume training until you are pain-free. Hill
work will help prevent injury and strengthen your tendons,
joints, and ligaments, but only if the stress load is not
too high. Fitness cannot be rushed and hill work is no
Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from
around the country and internationally for over ten years.
He currently holds expert licenses from
Cycling (Elite), and is a licensed
Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The
Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full
time. He is a free lance author and his articles are
regularly featured in a variety of magazines such as
Inside Triathlon, and Triathlete. Visit www.thesportfactory.com
for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org