The Ups and Downs of Hill Workouts

Wednesday was supposed to be the regularly scheduled FastTracks track night but the circuit was in use by another group who were doing blood lactate measurements.

Therefore our coach decided to let us do some hill workouts on a nearby street. Whoopie!

Given that I had cycled there up those very same hills I had an idea what we were in for. They aren’t too steep but they are long and winding (cue Paul McCartney).

Initially we jogged gently to the bottom of the hill where the coach gave us a talk about hill runs.

He said that unless you are training for a hilly race you don’t really need to incorporate regular hill work. Although, if you find you pick up injuries running on tracks for speed then hills are a good alternative.

The aim was to run the hill at two mile pace, less 15-30 seconds. We were going to do half mile up and then jog back. Key to recovery is taking small steps on the way back down so you don’t over stretch you muscles, making the return harder.

To ‘warm up’ we ran up the hill slowly to get a measure of what was in store. Then we were told to repeat that seven to eight times! Yikes.

After jogging back down and leaving my bottle at the bottom of the slope, we started the run as a large group (20 or so) but this quite soon thinned out as people fell into their pace groups.

There is one guy in the club that is a real jack-rabbit and he was flying up the hills using three gears; 5k pace, 800m pace and finishing at 400m pace. I could not do that. I did get to chat to him towards the end and to see some of his techniques. Good stuff.

However, by the end of seven reps I did actually finish in second place. Hurrah! By this point I had been ‘lapped’ by our rabbit but only on the last interval.

I then had to ride home from the workout which had run slightly long. By the time I got home it was well into dusk and I’ll have to take lights next time. All in all I rode 25 miles and ran just under six with hills so not a bad days effort.

Come Thursday morning and my regular scheduled run and I had very little oomph left in me. I still managed to get out and do a 3.7 mile run (with some more hills because I’m slightly mad, I guess) but it was a struggle and I only averaged an eight ten pace but picked it up at the end for a 7:08 finish pace. Now to rest for a day.

And eat.


5 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Hill Workouts

  1. Chris Adams

    I remember trying to run up a hill in Austria to try and beat my Dad who went up on the chair lift. The idea seemed fairly simple. The lift’s route was up over a nice green slope that was obviously a ski run during the winter.

    For most of the way, I managed to stay ahead, then I found out the hard way the difference between ‘out of breath’ and oxygen deficiency. ‘Out of breath’ is actually down to CO2 build up, rather than lack of oxygen. Your body tells you about it and you’re forced to ease up. Oxygen deficiency gives you no warning until you pass out.

    I forgot to take the altitude into account and, after almost keeling over, I had to walk the last bit and lost the race.

    1. pauldburton Post author

      An interesting story. That hill is clearly larger than most hills that I train on! I don’t tend to have altitude problems on my local runs. They are hilly but not mountainous.

  2. Chris Adams

    It wasn’t too big a hill to climb, but the bottom must have already been at a fairly high altitude. The scariest thing was the subtlety of the effect. None of us had any other breathing problems over the holiday there, even when hiking. It just seemed to be running that I managed to suddenly push it over the edge.


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