Hill running and uphill workouts

by Roger, answer by Marius

Hill running - uphill workouts is something that has been discussed and used extensively by runners on all levels. It can be quite effective if it is done the smart way.

Roger sent this question :


Is it important to do some uphill running? Like 5% incline on the treadmill. Or should I just run on the treadmill with 0% incline.


Thanks for the question. First of all, all treadmill workouts should be done with an incline of at least 0,5 % (even on the "flat" workouts) My personal experience is that if the treadmill is calibrated correctly an incline of about 0,5 to 0,7 makes the speed on the treadmill the same as for outside running.

With a flat treadmill, you will be running faster on the same effort vs. outdoors.

BUT, if you do want to run hill work, here are some suggestions :

Hill Running - In 6 Week Cycles

Uphill running can be very effective as a variation in the training + to strengthen the legs. However, you have to be careful - if you are a very explosive type runner you can deal with hill work all year through but for most, it seems that about 5-6 weeks of hill workouts (meaning 1-2/week) is the "limit" before getting into muscular problems.

My suggestion to you would be :

Six weeks of hill running 3 x 6 week periods of the year
If you want to run fast in July, this would then be late December, March and May respectively.

Vary each cycles
First period (December) should be longer uphill runs (or minutes on the treadmill) of 5-6 min each, repeated 5-7 times. Incline about 2-3 %

Second period medium incline of 4 % and medium length of each run 2-3 min repeated 5-7 times.

Last period (May) shorter runs 1 min in duration repeate 15-20 times at 5 % incline

Be careful with the last 8-10 weeks if you are in a marathon training cycle
If you are doing this as part of the marathon cycle, I would suggest to skip the last cycle in there (generally, hill workouts should end no later than about 8-10 weeks before the marathon if the marathon itself is not hilly)

Also ; when in each hill training period put some extra focus on shorter intervals (:30 sec to 1 minute with very short recoveries) This helps the variation both on the muscles and the nervous system and releases some of the stress that the hill workouts naturally cause.

Good luck with the hill running !


Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How?
Simply click here to return to Running Tips