Last week I added running hill repeats to the growing list of new things I’ve done with my Mom’s Run This Town group. I’ve always included hill work in my race training plans, but I usually do incline intervals on the treadmill.
This week, we ran for about 1.5 miles to warm up, and then tackled a steep hill with this profile (about 100 ft climb over 0.2 miles):
As you can see, I did it 5 times. I should have used the lap feature on my Garmin to time the climbs, but it looks like each one took about 2:15 – 2:20.
I have learned from experience that if I want to do well on a hilly race course, I need to include hills in my training. For the 10 mile races that I like to do, I think hill training is even more important than speed work. Judging from this tweet, it looks like the people at Runner’s World would agree!
Hill repeats are speed work in disguise. Do them! #runningtips
— Runner’s World (@runnersworld) July 27, 2014
No amount of track work will prepare your legs to run up steep hills, keep running through the burn, and still keep running through the downhill recovery until the next hill!
On the other hand, I have no idea what a hill workout “should” be, so I did some research on sites like Competitor.com, RunnersWorld.com, and HalHigdon.com. Not surprisingly, I learned that there is no one way to do a hill workout. I read about several different types of hill workouts with different pay-offs, from workouts based on short 10-20 second sprints or longer 30-90 second repeats, to simply including long hills and/or rolling hills in your longer runs. The type of repeats we did are similar to what Hal Higdon has in his advanced training plan (repeats up a 1/4 mi hill at a 400m effort).
Even though the articles I read had different opinions about the “best” type of hill training, they all agree that intense hill work only should be done once a week. I usually do speed work one week and hill work the next, and also try to do most of my longer runs on hilly routes–I have lots to choose from, including the Mt. Vernon Trail and up Capitol Hill.
This weekend I dragged my Ragnar team captain out on the rolling hills of the Custis Trail:
The hills don’t look so bad in this elevation profile, but believe me, this is a tough route!
Would you rather run a race with a sunny, flat course or
shady, rolling hills?
How often do you eat hills for breakfast? 😉