If you don't have a track available, don't worry. This workout can be done by time as well. Your 400's will become two minute runs and your 200's one minute runs. Keep the rest at two to three minutes for the two minute runs and one to two minutes for the one minute runs.
This type of workout is what will make triathlon race pace seem relaxed. The key is to maintain the pace and not get lazy toward the end of the workout. Maintaining the pace of this workout will help you feel like you can just keep accelerating at the end of a triathlon.
Frequency: Once per week in addition to mile repeats, but not the same week as 4x4x4
Workout: Five to 10 repetitions of a steep 200M hill or a hill taking 45 to 60 seconds to complete at a fast pace.
Rest: A very easy jog to the bottom of the hill, this should take around 5 minutes.
Pace: All out and as fast as you can go--no excuses. Hammer from the very start and don't slow down. This is hard.
Purpose: This workout builds maximal power, strength and speed. It will also benefit technique and stride by increasing knee drive and toe off. While not scientifically proven, this will make you tough. It requires a very hard effort, and you really have to gut it out. This toughness will benefit anyone from a 1500M runner to an Ironman racer.
I think it was my first high school cross country coach who termed this type of workout Hell's Hills--and it is freakishly appropriate. Do this with as many of your closest friends--or most hated enemies--as possible.
After a heated argument, this might be the perfect relationship therapy for you, your significant other or the both of you. My point is that this is a full on, no holds barred, hammer yourself into the ground, think you're gonna puke, "Frozen tundra of Lambo Field" type of workout.
The basis of the workout is really quite easy. Pick about a minute long hill, preferably one that's steep. It should have 50 meters of flat leading into it to build up your speed. Then charge the hill like Mel Gibson in "Brave Heart," and don't slow down.
Of course, you will slow down. You will have to slow down because your legs will beg you to stop while your brain tries to grasp some vague reason to continue on. When done properly, you will reach your stopping point, bend over panting for air and--if you've done very well--go to your knees.
You'll suck air for a minute or so, feel better, stand up, and think, "OK, only eight more to go." This is an awesome workout. While it is hard, it's beneficial in numerous ways from the physiological systems it works to the psychological effect of knowing you've done this type of workout.
As triathletes, we rarely get to really push ourselves 100 percent. This workout gives you that chance. Go at it tenaciously.
Jimmy Archer is a pro triathlete, coach, and freelance writer. During his career, Jimmy has raced at all distances and formats of triathlon, competing for the U.S.A. on four national teams and finishing top 10 at five XTERRA world championships. You can visit his website at jimmyarcher.com.