Hill Running Made Easy


Stop Repeating Yourself!
"Running hills doesn't have to mean repeats," says Lt. Colonel Liam Collins, assistant track and cross-country coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "The trick is to make it enjoyable." Plot out a new route that has a couple of hills (if you live in terrain untouched by the Thunderbirds, incorporate artificial hills, such as overpasses or even parking garage ramps). You'll reap the same benefits, says Collins, plus, "It's closer to what you'll find in a race."

Suffer With Friends
As a graduate student, Collins was part of a group that did a weekly workout on a route called "Over the Top" that included one monstrous hill. They attacked it together and turned it into a race-within-a-run, thus making the effort a shared experience. They kept track of who made it to the top first, and at the end of the season (taking a page from cycling's Tour de France), everyone chipped in to buy the winner a polka dot jersey, signifying "the King of the Mountain."

Name Your Nemesis
Storied inclines like Peachtree's Cardiac Hill and Dipsea's Dynamite may be no tougher than your neighborhood hill, but because they've been imbued with a name, they've acquired a mystique. "Anytime you have a hill with a name, it gives it a life of its own," Collins says. Conquering your local version of Heartbreak will have more meaning if you've given it a moniker.runners of mixed ability, says Larry Indiviglia, a San Diego-based coach. Warm up, then assemble at the base of a hill. The slowest runner(s) start first. After 30 seconds, the second group charges up. Thirty seconds later, the third and fastest group takes off . The result? Everyone pushes it and works harder. "The slower people don't want to be passed," says Indiviglia. "The middle group feels the fast guys nipping at their heels. And the fast group doesn't want to be put in the unusual position of finishing last." Jog back down. Repeat four times.

Inside Incline
Warm up on the treadmill at a zero incline. Then increase the incline by two levels every two minutes until you hit level 12. Run one to two minutes slower than your normal training pace. Descend in the same manner. "You learn how to handle the intensity of hills in a way that simulates the nature of terrain outdoors," says Liz Neporent, co-author of Fitness for Dummies.

Up and Down

Use this workout as an efficient strength-builder, says Sharp. Start at the base of a hill about 200 to 400 yards long, depending on your fitness. Run up it for 45 seconds (your intensity should be about a 7 on a 1-to- 10 scale). Jog back down for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. As you get stronger, increase the number of intervals up to eight and the length of intervals up to 75 seconds (maintain recovery time).

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