Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hill training

Moping around the interweb this evening I was really pleased to come across Kevin Sayers' UltRunR website and a collection of thoughts on hill training. I always hear runners talk about the benefits of hill training and to go on about hill reps..."Got to do them Jerry, Got to do 'em buddy they will make you a better runner."

So then you see people running up hill at full pelt and then walking down the hill, running up the hill and walking down them ad infinitum. They then go about the world telling everyone what they have done....then we see stories that tell us that also do down hill training is beneficial.

I was always told, "Up for the heart and down for the legs" a saying I strongly believe in and there is often small sniggers from shorter distance runners as to why ultradistance runners walk up hills, this is not because we are lazy or trying to save energy for later on in the race but we are trying to prevent our quads being trashed. Similarly that is why it is really important to do down hill how do they work if you haven't got a stair master or a bike. Simply do the opposite that you would do on up hill training.*
  1. Find a suitable hill, preferably paved with no crossings and no pedestrians
  2. Mark out 100 metres then and extra 10 metres ( your braking distance!)
  3. After a warm up start at the top
  4. Sprint down hill to the 100 metre mark, turn
  5. Jog or walk to the top
  6. Repeat
I would suggest that you don't mix up and down hill training in the same session but if this becomes part of a regular training session this will really help the latter stage quad trashing that occurs in long runs.

As I am consistently running on the North Downs there are sufficient undulations to fit this into a standard long run with out reps...enjoy

* I am not a qualified trainer just imparting my experience as to what works with me


  1. I did a down hill marathon in Austria a few years ago. I wish I had trained for it properly since my quads turned to absolute jelly at the half way stage !
    I subsequently spoke to a veteran of the race (Tyrol Downhill Speed Marathon) who gave me the same advice as in here.

    Dave K

  2. I can't remember the last time I did specific hill training (repeats). I do however run trails and routes that include monster climbs and descents very often as training. I don't think regular training on the trails require more hill work.

  3. I am with you on that one Johann, around some of the towns where I live the hills are very few and far between unless you drive out to the Downs where there is lots of "Up to go down" .
    There is a cracking hill that we ascend on a regular basis but it is also very busy with bikes who like to whizz down it :-)