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Try this summit attack hill workout to improve your hill-running technique

Learn how to use hills to your advantage with this tough session

Hill leaping:Unsplash_peterconlan Photo by: Unsplash_peterconlan

One of the biggest mistakes runners make during races is relaxing too much at the top of hills. Hills are tough, and it’s tempting to give yourself a bit of a break once you finally reach the summit of a particularly difficult climb. But runners who can push through the burning in their quads will reap rewards. This workout–aptly named the summit attack workout–will help you practise doing just that, and turn you into a beast on the hills.

The summit attack hill workout

All runners slow down when they hit a hill. Experts and coaches often recommend that you slow down, focusing on maintaining the same effort, rather than the same pace, that you were running on the flats. What’s important in a race, however, is that when you reach the top, you get back onto your flat-ground pace as quickly as you can.

Uphill running on trails

Many runners, however, slow down at the top of a hill. They reach the summit, relieved that they’ve finally gotten to the top, and take their foot off the gas to appease the burning in their quads. While this is a completely understandable reaction, you’ll benefit much more from doing the opposite.

Instead, you should keep pushing at the same effort that you were putting out during the climb, so that you get back into your pre-hill pace. Yes, this means pushing through the burning in your quads, but you’ll be surprised to find that the burning will ease up, even while running at a quicker pace. You’ll also be able to bring your heart rate back down to a more manageable level just as quickly as if you’d slowed down.

Why do this? Ultimately, it’ll result in a faster finishing time, and for the more competitive runners out there, you’d be amazed at how many people you can pass at the top of a hill. But as with anything, this takes a bit of practice. 

Maddy Kelly running up hills
Photo: Instagram/madeleinekels

The workout

To do this workout, you’ll need a hill that takes about 45 seconds to a minute to get to the top, followed by a long flat section. The goal for each hill repeat is to run hard to the top, then lengthen your stride as you reach the summit and accelerate for about 15 seconds. This will help you practise making that hill-to-flat transition. Jog down for recovery.

Warmup: 10 minutes’ easy jog, followed by form drills

Workout: 6-10 x the hill + flat, with an easy jog back down for recovery

Cooldown: 10 minutes’ easy jog

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