Any coach will tell you that the best way to build power for endurance sport is to hit the hills at least once per week. As readers of my book Smart Marathon Training know, a big part of running injury free is to use cross-training, and my favorite form of cross-training is cycling. Combine these two elements, and you end up scheduling a great cycling hill workout into your weekly plans.
In running, doing hill repeats will help you develop proper form while maximizing power output. This is true in cycling as well. All that’s necessary is to find a challenging, convenient and safe hill to hit for a midweek workout.
Preferably, the hill you choose is at least a half-mile to full mile long. After a good 10-20 minute warm-up, attack the hill and cycle up as fast as you can, making sure to pick a gear that will be easy enough to allow you to stay seated for most, if not all, of the ride up, and which will also keep from rocking the bike back and forth as you pedal. Follow this with an easy downhill recovery spin adn glide, and then repeat that 6 to 10 times.
The hardest part of this workout, however, might be finding a suitable hill. Perhaps you already have one in mind, but if not, consult a salesperson in your local bike shop, or check in with your local bike club. You’ll probably get not only a slew of suggestions, but an invitation to come along for the next group ride.
If you live in Washington DC, as I do, here’s a suggestion: Tucked away off Connecticut Avenue NW is a stretch of road that can make any cyclist salivate and reach for their bike. Tilden Street. Just north of Cleveland Park and below Van Ness, this stretch of road east of Connecticut Avenue is a dream come true for city cyclists: it’s scenic, has very few cross-streets, is marked with bike lanes in both directions, and starting at the bottom of the hill at the intersection with Beach Drive and heading west up towards Connecticut Avenue, Tilden Street ascends 170 feet in almost exactly one kilometer (.62 of a mile).