Thursday Thoughts – Hills Edition

I am once again pounding away through weekly hill repeat workouts, trying to prepare myself both mentally and physically for some decent inclines in next weekend’s Wicked Half and the rolling course that is the B.A.A. Half just a few weeks after.

On the plan today was 11 x 250 meter repeats plus warm up and cool-down. My legs now feel like jelly and as I fight the urge to just curl up in the fetal position for the rest of the day, I share these three quick tips to running hill repeats.

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your am swing! When I start to flag half way up a hill, focusing on my arm swing really helps to keep my legs powering along. As your arms go, so will your legs.
  2. Maintain a short, quick turnover — Avoid the tendency to overstride in hopes of gobbling up the hill in bigger chunks, otherwise you’re tempting injury.
  3. Keep your head up! While I like to lean slightly into the hill, be careful not to bend too much at the waist – this will cause strain in your lower back and makes breathing even harder. Run tall with your abs engaged – such as you would running a flat straightaway.

What are your tips for taking on hills?



  1. I was literally just looking at an elevation chart for a race. Great tips!
    P.s. Congrats on your 8th of 13!

  2. Ugh weekly hill repeats are tough. BUT they’ll pay off. My tip is to look in front of you when climbing, but not too far that you feel overwhelmed. 10 feet or so ahead will do.

  3. I’m not at that point just yet, I’m coming back to running after a 18 year hiatus. I like your blog and subscribing.

  4. Nice work on the hills! I agree with the comment of not looking too far ahead – definitely helps to just keep looking at the road in front of you! Hill repeats are tough, but they are worth it!

  5. I just read your About Me and I am so jealous. I am in better shape in my newly 40’s then my 30’s too! But I have not fallen in love with running yet. I have done a 5k (in Feb) and I have not started back since. Thanks for the helpful hints, I will try these. Thanks! Love your blog.

    • Thanks so much Alysia! It definitely takes a while to fall into a rhythm with running – having a race to focus on (and hanging over my head LOL!) helped me to stay on track. Keep running šŸ™‚

  6. I agree that arms really can help! I am trying to focus on shorter stride lengths up hills.

  7. Great tips. At one time my best tip was to avoid them. I’ve since learned to embrace the hills for the benefits.

  8. A friend of mine says that hills are her vegetables, which I love. Part of a healthy running diet! Unfortunately I basically have to choose between perfectly flat (and convenient) roads in my neighborhood, or driving to the (very hilly) trails, so you can guess which one gets neglected.

    Note that we’re talking about a 15-minute drive, here. And yet, it’s so much harder than just putting on my shoes and heading out.

    I have a 25k nighttime trail race next Saturday, though, so I’ll get to eat a month’s worth of hill vegetables in one sitting.

  9. Michelle,
    Those are all very legitimate and solid approaches to helping make hills a bit easier and also be more powerful going up them! One thing I would add is going by effort not pace… your pace will naturally slow down a bit
    because if you keep up the same pace that you were doing on the flats (or the downhills) you will most likely suffer later in the race… try and
    run at approximately the same effort that you were doing before you hit the hill and then relax and let gravity take you down the other side of the hill faster.
    Proud of you for training so hard and smartly!
    As I am writing this it looks like you are only a few days away from this first Half…. Good Luck!!
    Looking forward to hearing about it.


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