How long should hill repeats be?

Last week a reader posted a question to the Runner’s World magazine’s online forum asking about how long hill repeats should be. Since this reader was using my book, I thought we’d answer her question. But first, thanks for trying Smart Marathon Training!

Hill running is a key workout in the training plans found in my book, but the distance of the hills depends on how steep their inclines are and how accustomed you are to running hills.  I generally recommend hills that are 50m to 150m long.

On a treadmill, depending on the setting, that would translate to about one to three minutes of running.  Your recovery should be relatively short — one or two minutes.

If you are new to hill running, do only two or three repeats to start; you’ll quickly be able to double and triple that number.

Good luck, and have fun!

For more on smart, effective workouts, please check out my book Smart Marathon Training.

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About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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2 Responses to How long should hill repeats be?

  1. kdrunner says:

    So to clarify some more… when the program asks for say, HWx6, You mean 6 repeats of a 150m long hill.. correct? And each repeat consist of running up the hill and then jogging down. Is that correct?

    • horowitzrun says:

      Thanks for your message. And that’s basically right about the hillwork; repeated efforts on the same hill, with an easy recovery on the run down. You don’t have to be exact on the distance; it can be roughly 100-150 meters (or, depending on where you live, a half or whole city block). To gauge improvement, though, the repeats should be done on the same hill(s), so you have a point of comparison over time.

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