I need hill workout help!

I don’t know how to track the elevation/grade/whatever of my runs on my garmin.  I just plug it in to runningahead, and it doesn’t seem to do that.  I think it used to tell me that info when I used garmin training center.  Not sure though.  So?  So I have no idea on my “hilly” runs, like I did this weekend, if they are really even hilly – like compared to what others do and what Little Rock would be – or if they just seem hilly because they are hillier than my flat neighborhood.

And on the treadmill, I really don’t know what would be considered a good hilly workout to help me for Little Rock.  i.e. I don’t know what running at a 1, 2, 3 incline, etc. really equates to on the road.  And does it vary from treadmill to treadmill?

Here’s what I did today on the TM:

1/2 mile at 1%; 1.5 miles starting at 2% and going up to 5% and down and back up; 2 miles starting at 2% and going up slowly (1/2 mile increments, then 1/4 mile increments for last 2) to 4.5%; decline of -3% for .2 miles; then about 1 1/2 miles at 1%, then the rest from 2%  up to 5%.

It felt like a good workout, but not impossible.  Since Little Rock talks about a 2 mile hill from mile 15 -16, I thought it would be good to start practicing a 2 mile hill (thus my 2 miles from 2% – 4.5% incline).  Should I make the incline more?  (And I know it will be different in the race since the first 14 miles will be random hilliness too).

Ideas on what workouts would be good for me?  Should I be increasing these inclines?  Should I be doing short fast hill repeats instead?  (The pace on all this hill TM workout was about 9:40, which is about 70 seconds slower then my goal MP).

I can say that the hill workout I did on the TM today felt much easier than when I started doing them in December (when I did 2.2 miles of hills).  I am getting stronger, I can tell.  From weights, pilates and the hills, no doubt.

Any help/insight would be appreciated!

the big red dog jumped over the green bush.  (this is typed at the request of my son, who was amazed that I could type while looking up talking to him about school;  I know.  I’m amazing!)

8 thoughts on “I need hill workout help!

  1. Hill workouts can serve a variety of purposes, as an interval workout and to build some good overall strength, the 1/4 mi intervals are good but you may want to do them faster (coach calls for 90 secs on a 4+% grade and I normally get somewhere near .19-.23 mi) however for overall endurance stick with the pace and length you’ve described above. In addition try working hills in whenever possible on LRs, that’ll be the perfect pairing to best mimic the marathon course. My 2 cents.

    Mad typing skillz too! 😛

    1. Thanks Maria! I love getting free advice from those of you who pay for coachs! Now if only Jen would speak up too. 🙂 I am going to try to do my 20 miles this weekend on some hills. I think that is the best conditioning/prep.

  2. I’ll speak up! I didn’t see this until this morning 🙂

    On the ‘mill, for rolling hills, I’ve been doing 1/2 mile up @5%-1/2 mile down at either -2 or -2.5% with no flats in the middle repeated until my run is done. I slow it down for the ups and speed it up for the downs to keep the effort level more even. This makes running on the ‘mill way more fun for me since I’m always hitting buttons.

    For hill repeats, right now, he has me doing 80 seconds which equates to around 1/4 mile. He told me to do it at 3 to 4 % and at a “hard” effort but knowing I can finish 8 of them. I know he’ll increase the amount and distance/time of these in the upcoming weeks, but probably not the incline. These are my hidden speedwork workouts, where I’m not running crazy fast but I’m still getting a good training stimulus without as big of a risk of injury.

    I think the steepest hill at Boston is around 5-6%, so that’s why I use that for the “rolling” hills run. We all have different systems, for me, I’m a GREAT downhill runner but a TERRIBLE uphill runner. So, I just need to get back that feeling of being relaxed and fast on the downs again and I’ll be good with those (once I get my quads strong for Boston). But, I need to work on slowing (I always want to charge up with everyone else and that hurts me in the end) on the ups so I can get up the hill tired but not worn out and then be able to fly back down. In all my marathons, everyone passes me on the ups, but I always catch them and pass them back on the way down.

    Does this make any sense? It does to me 🙂

    1. Yes, that all makes sense! I’m the opposite of you. I actually think I do a decent job of going up hill, but a horrible job of downhill. I don’t know how to do it. I put on the brakes. I’m afraid of going fast because I’m afraid of my knees buckling. There is apparently a super steep downhill after the two mile climb at mile 15-16 of Little Rock. I’m more nervous about that than the uphills.

      Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Nice work! I think Jen and Maria covered everything, but if you want to see the kinds of hills you are running during your workouts from your Garmin, you can download a free program called Sportstracks which will show you your elevation, etc. (http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/sporttracks/)

    Be sure not to overdo it on the hills either – they are serious strength workouts and can take a fair bit out of you. So be sure you recover and hit the 0% grade on the treadmill from time to time also to get good recovery.

    1. I’ll have to check out sporttracks. And I am trying not to overdo it with the hills. I think more than anything the hills are going to be mental for me – so I want to prepare enough for them that when I see them on the course I don’t freak out and have a horrible race. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Call me crazy, but if you are a weak downhill runner I think you should focus on running downhill instead of uphill. So many runners I know are great on the ups and lose all that time and then some braking the whole way back down.

    Find a big hill, go easy up and push the downs for your repeats (my coach has had me do downhill mile repeats before–I’ve also done long runs on the ‘mill where the first 10 are flat or with “hills” and the second 10 is all downhill, that is a hard run, your legs really feel it!).

    Also, I think I remember you saying the ‘mills at your gym had a decline. When you are stuck on it, try to end some of your runs with a couple of miles of gentle downhill (-2%ish) and get used to leaning forward, relaxing, upping your turnover and allowing gravity to be your friend.

    1. Not crazy, smart! I think this will help me more. Downhills scare me. I did 3 downhill miles on the TM during my run today and it got easier by the end. Did them on -2, then -2.5 then -3 for a bit. And pace picked up to about 7:54. It was definitely good for me, in terms of confidence and conditioning! I’m gonna try to do a few miles a week of downhill. Fun!

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