The “Hills Make You Fast” Workout

I talk about it a lot, speed work, and I think most people are cool with Mile Repeats, Yasso 800s and Tempo Runs. What most runners shy away from are HILLS. Oh yeah, those dreaded HILLS.

But why? Well, to be honest with you, no workout in the world makes me want to vomit than a good old fashioned hill workout. Pushing your body on a flat surface is only about one thing: speed. Pushing your body on a hill is about speed AND power. It’s brutal but worth it.

So, how do you go about putting together a hill workout? I’ll share my most brutalย favorite one with you.

There is this hill in Central Park called Cat Hill. Why is it called Cat Hill? Because there is a very large cat on the hill. You have to see it. Anyway, the hill is about a quarter of a mile (.25 mi) from the Boathouse to the stop light at the top of the hill. Here’s what I do on Hill Day:

  • 1-1.5 mi easy warm up
  • Sprint up the hill, jog slowly down (4-6 times)
  • 1.5-2 miles at race pace

The warm up is an absolute necessity with this type of workout. If you don’t warm up, you won’t be able to reach your max speed on the hills. The idea is to run each hill repeat in the same amount of time as the one before. Don’t forget to find a hill that is at least .15 mi long so that you get more than a minute on each hill. I think I did 5 last time before I was sure I couldn’t do anymore. I was totally trashed. Those last few miles are to stretch your legs out, find a comfortable breathing rhythm and let your muscles relax before you stop dead in your tracks and collapse on your couch.

It may feel like you didn’t run all that far–and you didn’t. However, distance isn’t the goal here, intensity IS. If you are hitting those hills with everything you’ve got, you will see an improvement in your distance running. If you are loafing about and phoning in your hill workouts, you will see no improvement whatsoever.

Got guts? Hit the hills. They will rock your *running* world.

Now go out and run!

7 thoughts on “The “Hills Make You Fast” Workout

  1. I saw the heading ‘hills’ and I somehow knew it would be about Cat Hill! I have run up many times but never done reps. I am actually quite keen now. I like the sound of a hard workout… but we’ll see how I feel afterwards!

  2. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! Just went for a flat run and it felt great… then decided to end it with a long and steep hill & it kicked my butt! Opened my eyes… I am in major need of hill repeats if I’m going to conquer NYCM 2012. I hate Cat Hill- looks like I need to learn to love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Im jealous of your hills in pancake flat Tampa-area Florida! I have to do hill work on the treadmill or drive 20/25 minutes to get to a hilly area. I love hill workouts though, some of the most satisfying. Plus I totally agree, about stretching it out and speeding up for a bit at the end. I feel like I run my fastest when I speed up at the end of hill workouts.

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