workout: how to run hills

Lynn Shizumura
June 25, 2020

Andrew Mchowell and Tiffany Nakamura are fast local runners. They planned to return to the prestigious Boston Marathon this year, but it was one of the many events that was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. But it hasn’t stopped their training. They log about 30 to 40 miles a week, which include hill work.

Nakamura and Mchowell.

Michael Garrison, a certified running coach and founder of Hawaii Running Lab, coaches Mchowell and Nakamura. Garrison helps them stay in marathon shape and improve their performance so they can achieve new personal best race times. 

Garrison says that running hills during training helps runners of all levels build physical and mental strength to tackle them during a race. Here are his tips for running hills.

Safety first

It’s recommended that you’re logging at least 15 miles a week without injury before adding hills to your routine. If possible, run hills that have a sidewalk and minimal obstructions. You can test the terrain on a walk before your run.

Practice your form

  • Keep your chest up and open. Lean forward slightly from the hips.
  • Look up and ahead. Focus on a point 10 to 20 feet away.
  • Lift your knees from the hips. Keep your stride light and quick. Try to land on your midfoot to forefoot.
  • Maintain an even and relaxed rhythm. 

See Mchowell and Nakamura in action:

Choose your workout

Ready to get out there? Here are a few of Garrison’s hill workouts:

  • Pick a hill that you can run for 30 to 60 seconds. Run up the hill as fast as you safely can. Walk or jog back to the start. Repeat six to 10 times. 
  • Pick a hill that you can run for 90 seconds. Run up the hill at a speed that’s slightly faster than your comfortable run speed. Jog back to the start. Repeat four to eight times. 
  • Pick a long hill that you can run for at least 12 minutes. Run up the hill for three minutes at a speed that's slightly slower than your comfortable run speed. Rest for 30 seconds and continue up the hill. Repeat three times. 
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