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Hill Repeats

How to Properly Execute a Hill Repeat Workout for Distance Runners

1024 852 Christo Landry

What are Hill Repeats?

Hill repeats are a workout where you run hard up the hill (90% effort) and maintenance run pace down the hill. This is done multiple times, an example would be 10 x 75 second hills.

What do you mean by 75 second hill?

For the first repeat, find your starting spot and then start your watch when you start the repeat. When you get to about 3 seconds over your allotted time, for this example 78 seconds, that is your end point. Find a marker so you know where it is for the next repeats. For the rest of the repeats, go from your starting point to the ending point you picked out on the first repeat, even it’s it’s not exactly 75 or 78 seconds. This allows you to see if you are getting faster or slower over the duration of the workout. Normally as your body warms up into the hill repeats you’ll start going faster and the average of your times will be around 75 seconds. It doesn’t need to be exact.

Could you be a little more specific?

Contrary to popular belief, the most important portion of the hill repeat (like the fartlek) is the “off” portion. The goal of hill repeats is to keep an elevated heart rate the entire time. This is accomplished through running the down hill portions at maintenance run speed. When you hit the top, immediately turn around and start your run down and when you hit the bottom immediately turn around and start the uphill. Yes, this will be tough but remember that you are not going all out up the hill, only 90% effort.

Where do I do hill repeats?

A hill that has a grade of about 4%-5%. This can be checked on various websites, I use the route builder on mapmyrun.com and check the elevation box to see the grade when I look for a hill to do repeats on. It should be continuous with no drops or flat sections, it should have minimal traffic to avoid injury and while soft surfaces (with good footing) are preferred it is by no means necessary.

How do I know if I’m going the right speed?

While the goal of the workout is to be at 90% effort level, this workout will be tiring when done correctly, you will not be at 90% immediately. The first few uphills portions will be difficult, but done right, your pace on the them will be negative throughout the workout.

I don’t think I did it right.

That’s ok. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice hills. The idea is to figure out what went wrong and to try to avoid it in the future. The biggest thing to work on is the keeping the downhill portions at maintenance run pace and then working towards negative spliting the uphills (each one is equal to or faster than the one before).