First attempt at hill repeats: what gradient? - Bridge to 10K

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First attempt at hill repeats: what gradient?


I’m doing OK running on the flat and have managed 10k a couple of times now but I’m not great at all when it comes to hills. Actually it’s the same when hiking, I can cover miles and miles till I come to a steep bit.

The point of mentioning that is that I’m now looking at a training programme involving, among other things, a weekly dose of hill repeats. It starts with running up a hill for 15 seconds, walking or jogging back down, and repeating that eight times. Over the weeks of the programme the time for each uphill burst and the number of reps gradually increase.

The purpose of this, I’m told, is not mainly to improve hill running as such: it also, over time, improves running speed on the flat because it develops different muscles.

So I need to work out what kind of slope will be steep enough to get the benefit of the programme but not so steep that I can’t complete it. (I’m thinking I might do the whole programme twice and use a steeper slope the second time. It’s an eight week programme and the race isn’t till May so I have plenty of time.)

So: for a first ever attempt at hill repeats, what kind of gradient should I be looking for?

9 Replies

I am training to do a hilly half marathon and have been reading up about hill training on Runners World. They recommend using a gentle gradient at first and gradually using steeper hills when you are more experienced. So I think any gentle slope is good for getting you started. I avoided hills like the plague when I was doing C25K but I've joined a running group now and they go on lots of hilly routes so I've had to get used to them! I no longer dread a big hill, just see it as a challenge. Good luck with your training, Arthur 😊 👍🏃

misswobbleGraduate10 in reply to MutleyShuffle

you don’t need to do repeats ! They are not compulsory! 😃. Doing the hill once is fine. Get to the top, look back at what you’ve achieved and run on once you’ve got your breath back A long slope is a good starting point Tackle it in stages, resting as you go After you’ve done it for a while you’ll be able to tackle it in one go. Then you know you’ve nailed it 💪👍😃

On hills you go slowly and take small steps I say to myself! “Small,steps, small steps”, as I slowly climb. Just take your time. That’s the trick

ArthurJGGraduate10 in reply to misswobble

Running itself is not compulsory 😀 but running up a whole hill is one thing: short repeated uphill runs are a different kind of training for a different purpose.

misswobbleGraduate10 in reply to ArthurJG

Yes they are but you don’t have to do them at the very beginning of your hill running career. You can save them til you’ve had time to increase your lung capacity on the nursery slopes Hill repeats are very hard and they can be off-putting and demoralising

It’s a challenge suitable to the cooler weather. Don’t wear too many layers 😁👍

ArthurJGGraduate10 in reply to misswobble

As I think I've already said it's not about a hill running career. That's not what hill repeats are for.

Sqkr in reply to ArthurJG

To be fair, it's exactly what they're for 😂 It's just they're effective for building strength in other disciplines too.

ArthurJGGraduate10 in reply to Sqkr

No, that’s not what the hill repeats I described are for. I explained in my opening post what they were for.

Sqkr in reply to ArthurJG

Exactly! So...that's not what *your* hill repeats are for 😉

Like all running there's never going to be a straight answer really, everyone is built differently and can tackle different hills with different amounts of gusto! It's worth a bit of experimentation to find out what works best for you. And rather than finding the perfect hill, there's nothing to stop you tweaking the programme to fit what's readily around. If your nearby hills are beasts (like mine) it's tough on the calves so go slower, try shorter repeats. If they're not so taxing, go faster, do more of them. Mix it up, it all works together to improve your running 👍

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