5 Brutal Hill Sessions For Runners
Running up hills has its place in the training schedule of any top endurance runner.
Putting in hard efforts on a gradient makes for stronger legs as well as getting your heart rate up into its top zones.
Here, Built for Athletes has compiled a list of five brutal hill sessions.
30-Minute Continuous Effort
This is simple and painful. Find a long hill (about 500-800m) and run up and down it for 30 minutes, keeping a consistent pace. Running up should be a hard effort, but you should be able to maintain it for the full session so pacing it properly is crucial. Try to maintain the same pace while floating back down, which should act as some sort of recovery. Depending on your experience, you may need to start with a smaller duration and build up.
On a hill that you can run up for two minutes, complete a pyramid session consisting of reps that vary in time. Run up for 30 seconds on the first rep, then increase the duration by 30 seconds until you get to two minutes, and repeat the process coming back down to 30 seconds. Jog or walk back down the hill between reps as a recovery.
This takes its name due to being a typical session used by Kenyan distance-runners. Find a reasonably short loop (around 1km) with a decent-sized hill in it. Complete a tempo run around the loop, putting in an effort up the hill.
Incremental Hill Running
On a long hill with lamp posts that are evenly spread apart, run up past two lamp posts, then turn around and go back to the first one. Repeat until you get to the top. You can perform two or three sets of this depending on the size of the hill.
This is effective because you need good form to be able to run down hill quickly plus it causes the quadricep muscles to contract, so it certainly has its place in hill training. On a medium-length hill (100m-300m long) with a gentle gradient, put in an effort going downhill and jog back to the top. Repeat six to 10 times. It’s preferable to do this on a grass hill due to the increased force that goes through your joints.