How to add hills to your training

In our series on structured training we talk about transitioning from one phase to the next and in particular how to add hills to your training.

Once you have stopped improving during the aerobic or base conditioning phase then it’s time to add some hills.

Preparing yourself for hill training

Before you enter the hill phase you will need to prepare yourself. In the few weeks leading up to the planned change in your training, add in some more hilly runs. You must maintain Chatty pace all the way up though in order to stay aerobic. If you start to get ‘breathy’ then walk. Sometimes all you need to do is slow your pace right down and you can reach the top at Chatty pace.

Try some Sparkly hills on another run. That is the ten second Sparkles but done on a hill and it doesn’t matter how steep it is. Sparkle for ten seconds up the hill then walk the rest to recover. You can repeat a hill Sparkle whenever you come to a hill on your run.

Why change to a hill phase

You will have built up your aerobic fitness during the base phase. You will have a stronger heart and lungs with more blood vessels feeding your running muscles. To maintain this you need to continue building up the long run and still keep up lots of Chatty running. You don’t want to be getting out of breath in the hill phase so it is not about charging up the hills at full pelt! You need to do ‘steep’ hill running which we demonstrate in the next video.

What will adding hill training do for you

Your muscle strength and tendons lag behind your heart and lungs in terms of adapting to the running you are doing. If you go from the base conditioning phase straight to the ‘icing on the cake’ of faster running you are at risk of injury. Hill training will strengthen up your muscles and tendons and prepare your body for the demands of faster running. No need to weight train as running on hills will do all that naturally.

What is involved in the hill phase

Add your hill sessions twice a week if you are running five or more times. If you run less than that, one hill session is enough. You can always do a fun Fartlek with a few hills as your other session.

Include a hill session at least once a week. Here’s an outline of what you could include in your week.

Running four times a week

Long run

Chatty Sparkly Fartlek

Hill session

Chatty run

Running five times a week

Long run

Two hill sessions

Two Chatty runs

If you are doing two hill sessions you will need two to three days between them. You may feel it in your legs so they need time to recover. Your legs will feel achy but not heavy.

Next time Colin will demonstrate steep hill running next time.

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