Hill Repeats

As the name suggests, hill repeats are repetitive charges — running fast-paced efforts up hills. Integrate hill repeats (considered a strengthening workout) into your training schedule immediately after the base-building stage. This will be the time period when you slowly and carefully build weekly mileage levels (with increases no more than 10 percent per week).

Physical Benefits of Hill Repeats

Even if you live in an area with no hills, you can still do hill repeats by finding a highway overpass or bridge with about a 5 percent grade. You generally run hill repeats once a week for three to four weeks to improve your leg strength and as a very important injury prevention measure. Hill repeats are also an excellent means to prepare your cardiovascular system for speed workouts to follow.

Mental Benefits of Hill Repeats

Besides deriving benefits from strengthening your legs, hill repeats enhance your mental toughness for workouts and races on hilly terrain. Although you may never gain an unconditional love for hill training or racing on hilly courses, you will at least face challenging terrains with confidence.

How do you do hill repeats? After a warm-up jog of 1–1½ miles (or a minimum of 12 minutes of easy running), assault the hill at 5K effort pace (that's effort, not speed). The idea is to run up the hill as hard as you can while maintaining good running form.

As you reach the end point of the uphill section (generally 100 meters for the novice and up to 200 meters for the experienced runner), your breathing should feel very labored and your legs quite heavy. Turn around and jog (or walk) very easily down the hill, then continue on flat ground for 30 meters or so before turning around for the next repeat.

Depending on your level of experience, the number of repeats will vary. The novice should do no more than 4 repeats the first week, adding 2 additional repeats each week for the next three to four weeks. The experienced runner can begin with 6 repeats and proceed from there. As with any workout, it is important to cool down by jogging at least a mile (or a minimum of 10–12 minutes).

Hill Repeat Basics:

  • Shorten your stride

  • Lean slightly into the hill

  • Keep your head up, focusing on what's just in front of you rather than the top of the hill or incline

  • Maintain a consistent effort up the hill

  • Swing your arms (up and down rather than side to side)

  • Stay mentally focused and self-directed, pushing forward until you complete the hill repeat

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