There’s no two ways about it: Running hills sucks. But while it makes you huff and puff like no other, it’s a quick way to improve your race performance, say local running coaches Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann of Run Farther and Faster.
Hill sprints “help strengthen your legs and improve your speed,” they explain. Plus running sprints uphill actually put less impact on your joints than running on flat surfaces.
We’re in the heart of spring race season, so it’s likely that your training regimen calls for some midweek speed work. Next time, try this hills sprint workout whipped up by Sapper and Reichmann.
Hill Sprints Workout
3 to 4 sets for new runners
6 sets or more for advanced runners
1. Warm up for 20 minutes at an easy pace. Find a hill that is challenging but not so steep that you cannot maintain the same hard effort consistently to the top.
2. From the bottom, sprint up the hill at your 75 to 80 percent speed for 45 seconds. (If you have recent race results, you can approximate the pace of your sprints by the equivalent of your ten-mile race pace.)
3. Jog down the hill at an easy pace and immediately repeat. Conclude the workout with a five- to ten-minute cooldown.
Repeat this workout weekly for one month. Try to use the same hill to measure your progress and add an additional set each week, up to eight sets. After a few weeks, you’ll gain strength and speed and embrace the hills on race day.