The Hill Run Workout - Run repeat hills or a hilly course

"Hills are speedwork in disguise." - Frank Shorter

A hill run is a great way to build endurance and speed at the same time.  Running them can be tough, but you can get yourself in shape quickly, or improve your current fitness by incorporating the hills in your running routine.

There are two ways to attack a hill run workout. The first, and probably an easier way to incorporate hills into your weekly routine is to run a route that takes you over some hills. It is just like running a regular distance run, but you run it with some difficult inclines. The second way to get in this workout is to run the same hill repeatedly. Find a hill that has a steady incline, but not too steep, and run up and down it for a set period of time.

Here's a video about these two different types of hill run workouts.


A few suggestions for your distance run with hills. First of all, attack the hills. If you are going to make the hills count, you have to run up them at a quicker pace than you would normally. The second thing is to extend yourself at the top of the hill. That means lengthen your stride and pick up some speed when you reach the top. This is very difficult because you will be tired from attacking the hill, but it builds some much needed strength. Finally, take it easy on the downhills. You can run very relaxed down the hills and use them as your recovery.

Below is an example workout for running repeats on the same hill.

1. Find a hill that isn't too steep, but is a good distance. I usually pick hills that are 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile long.

2. Run a good warm up on some flat ground.

3. Run up the hill at a steady pace and remember to crest the hill. That means run for 25 to 50 meters after you reach the top and try and pick up the pace. Then you can slow down and go back down the hill.

4. Jog down the hill nice and easy.

5. Repeat! It's up to you to determine how many to run.

6. Run a cool down on flat ground.

Running hills during a Cross Country race is a different thing entirely though. Watch the video below for how to attack the hills during a competition.


For a hilly course, make sure you warm up and cool down too. This is how I approach the hills for both hill repeats and a hilly course.

Don't blast your way up each hill. You need to be strong and steady all the way up. If you aren't in great shape, just go up each hill slow and steady. If you have to walk, go ahead. Just start jogging again at the summit.

Also, keep your effort level the same the whole way up the hill, and when you crest the hill. The toughest part of a hill for me is establishing my pace again once I have reached the top. On a hill repeat, I go slowly back down the hill, but when I run a distance run with hills, I try to pick up my pace at the top even though I am quite tired.

I hope these tips help you understand how to attack a hill run. I won't lie, they can be tough, but you are tougher! Now get out that door and get after it.

Running the hills is one thing that can help you for marathon training. There is so much more you can do though. For a complete plan from the start of training to the finish line of a marathon, tips4running.com recommends the 100 Day Marathon Plan. It will help you train and run your first or best marathon.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

Related Articles

Running Workouts
Hill Extension
Mixed Distance Intervals
Train for marathon running
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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog
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