I am quite interested in adding Hill Sprints to my training but I've read conflicting views. I already take in a few hills when I'm out running but I want to build up some real power when going up them and also improve my VO2 max. Some articles don't really give a timescale of when you should start to incorporate them, I read somewhere 8 weeks of running is advisbale before proceeding with them. Also, the length of the hill seems to vary - a hill that takes about 30 seconds to scale or some articles state 60 seconds and some don't specify. What works?
A hill that takes 30s to scale?? Apart from the images of moles that's conjured up, isn't that like finding a piece of string that takes 2.4s to measure?
Hill sprints aren't something to be taken lightly. Sort of like walking into a gym for the first time, picking up the weights that feel heavy, and then trying to knock out three sets of ten. I would start very gently, perhaps by just challenging the hills you already have in your runs, trying to run a little faster up them as you go. If they're longer ascents, try two or three sections a little faster with a recovery jog in between. The point of the recovery jog is that if you have to stop at the end of one, you've gone too fast or long for this stage.
Later, try starting easy when you feel ready to do a more dedicated session. Say 4x50m. This is easy to ramp up, both in reps and distance. However, it's down at this short length you're aiming at real power. For VO2max you want 30-60s per rep, so depending upon your hill you could be talking 100-300m length. Not sure I'd use hills for VO2max training though - too variable.
I do a variety of hill workouts. 1/4 miles (not too steep about 90-100secs a rep), banks of a reservoir (ridiculously steep, but about 30 secs a rep). A moderately steep hill on a golf course, probably a minute to climb.
I also do a workout that involves a steep hill in town that takes about 2 mins to climb, but I split it into three parts of roughly equal distance and do a pyramid workout. 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, 2/3, 1/3.....if that makes any sense.
The only recovery is the jog down hill after the rep!
Numbers of reps really vary with fitness. You'll know when you've done enough of a hill session! But they do really require recovery, no hard sessions for two or three days afterwards. Your quads and calf muscles really take a beating......and don't forget to seriously warm up before hand, your heart rate will fly up!
I've decided to have a crack at it on Saturday, I'm doing a normal run today, about 5 miles moderate pace and relatively flat, it's one of my easier routes. Yesterday was a rest day but mainly because I had to look after my son whilst the missus went out rather than by choice!! Friday I will probably go for a longer slow run and then on Sat I will try and tear it a new one whilst making sure I don't tear anything else! I live near a few hills, in fact there are 4 in very close proximity of varying intensity. I'm planning to have a little crack at all of them - that will give me a short jog between each, I reckon maybe 2 reps on each should probably do me but I will see how I feel. Sunday morn, a nice slow recovery run, just plod about for 20-30mins.
I took some advice to find a 'moderate' hill (maybe one in ten gradient), and run up it for 40 seconds at a pace where, in the last 10 seconds, you could not possibly hold a normal conversation... but you would definitely be able to say the odd phrase.
Then jog very slowly down and repeat the cycle 5-8 times. It seems to work for me.
That way, you're in control whether you're a seasoned runner (where you need to run quite hard to get out of breath) - or a relative newbie - who might just be doing a fairly gentle uphill jog.
It's important to warm up with a gentle run of a couple of miles first. You don't want your heart & lungs to go from cold, to suddenly launching into full power.
Good luck. I'm convinced this exercise has helped a lot for both 5km speed work, and longer endurance stuff.
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