Hello all. Several months ago I posted a little article the included the following statements:
1) Lots and Lots of Running
2) Long Runs
3) Tempo Runs (@ LT pace)
4) V02max Intervals (@ 12-15 minute race pace)
5) Repetitions (@ 2-5 minute race pace)
7) Plyometrics, technique drills
9) Core strengthening exercises, injury prevention exercises, stretching, etc.
Most of these have been discussed already and most people do most of these all ready. Personally I think when evaluating your own running program, instead of looking forward, you should first look back. Odds are, you may make the biggest gains by incorporating the element that has been missing from your program. Each of these training elements will stimulate specific adaptations to occur. The largest improvements typically occur in the early stages of this training.
Well, at that moment I had realized that I hadn’t done a serious hill focus in over 10 years!! (much of that due to just simply taking time off from the sport all together).
So, I had wanted to talk about this as some people may not really know how one typically incorporates hill training into a program.
For starters, I *have* read of many runners who made some breakthroughs in their racing after incorporating hill training into their program. However, I would also like to add that I’ve never really seen anywhere where it was considered a high priority. Keep in mind that, for most of you, your biggest gains will still be made by 1) being consistent, 2) running a relatively high volume, 3) running at LT 8-10 months out of the year (for HIM and less) and 4) incorporating V02max intervals for periods of 6-12 weeks one to three times a year (for HIM and less). Once you have nailed those down, hills may be the next element to add into your program.
I’m not talking about simply doing hilly runs occasionally. I’m talking about a 15 – 40 minute workout where you are running fast up a hill, over and over again.
There are many ways to run a hill workout. I suggest a mix of many different types. Eventually you will learn what YOU respond best to. Hills can be anywhere from 20 seconds to 4 minutes long. The grades can vary from a few % to very, very steep. When you run the hill, focus on driving the arms and lifting your knees. You want to feel very powerful has you run up. As the hill gets steeper, you’ll want to move more and more toward your toes. Focus on form on every one.
Some hills you can focus on running up fast and letting your natural stride carry you up.
Some you will want to exaggerate the knee lift.
Some you will want to take extra long, bounding strides (on steeper hills)
Some you will want to leap as high as you can on each stride (steeper hills)
An example of a hill workout that I did back in college looks like this (short, steep, grassy hill):
Up fast, jog down on more gradual slope
Up with high knees, down
Up fast, down
Up with long strides, down
Up fast, down
Up with springy vertical strides, down
We might do that one week and then simply 5 x 3 minute hills the next.
I’d be interested if anyone can present some research, but according to Lydiard and Galloway, the theory is that it is a form of sport specific plyometric exercise that helps strengthen the legs, lengthens the strides, and prepares the body for harder running to come…….it also helps you run up hills, which you sometimes have to do in a race.
Typically in the early season. Triathletes, however, tend to have excessively long seasons (IMO). This may be something you want to do before the racing begins but then revisit again in the middle of the summer to prepare for a strong early fall race. In my typical plans I like to see this done about 4 months before the A race, though this can vary.
3-6 weeks. Though several “hilly” runs should be done after this point to keep from losing too much of your gains.
At least once a year, though it doesn’t *need* to be done before every season. A lot of college teams will run hills in August and September to prepare for cross country and then let the rest if the season of running over hilly terrain carry them through the year.
Ideally you’d likely want to get at least 5-6 weeks of good focused hill training in a year, IMO.
CAN I MIX THIS WITH ANOTHER TYPE OF WORKOUT:
Yes and no….but mostly no. If you run up and down the same hill, you really can’t incorporate this into a V02max or LT session because the recoveries are too great. Running up a hill that takes 3 minutes will take 4 ½ minutes to come back down, which is too much rest for a good V02max session and WAY too much rest for an LT session.
However, if you were to find a good, hilly cross country course or a loop that had a steep hill on one side and a not so steep decline, you could run your intervals or tempo runs on courses like this, but keep in mind that you will be sacrificing some of the benefits of the hill workouts as you won’t be as rested when you get to the hill. This wouldn’t be a bad workout, but take it for what it is.
You can also do this at the end of a workout. This is especially beneficial for triathletes who have a limited number of workout sessions. There’s nothing wrong with doing a 30 minute tempo run and then 15 minutes of hills.
HOW DOES IT FIT INTO THE WHOLE PLAN?
Typically I like the following cookie cutter formula:
Base, Tempo, hills or rep training (and tempo), v02max (and tempo) à A race, repeat
However, you can also move hills BEFORE rep training if you wish to do both. A lot will depend on what you respond to better and what kind of races you have coming up.
For the type of person who simply refuses to periodize his training, may I suggest doing these in place of your track session every two or three weeks OR tacking them onto the end of your tempo run.
Hope this helps. Feel free to discuss/contribute/challenge at will.
-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here: