Twin Cities in Motion

Mile Motivation Monday

posted on Mon, Aug 6 2012 10:29 am by TCM Staff

Week 9: Training on Hills by Club Run Minneapolis


Club Run loves the hills (or, at the very least, we love to hate the hills)! Our training plans have us running up and down hills early and often – at least once per week – and for good reason. Hills help runners increase strength, speed, stamina, and efficiency. Of course, running hills also trains us to (wait for it) . . . run hills! 

Hill workouts usually fall into one of three categories:

A. hill repeats

B. tempo runs over hills, or

C. long runs over a hilly route. 


Hill repeats are like speed work, but on a hill.  The effort is something less than an all-out sprint – think 85-90% of that – and usually the fast portion is for 60-90 seconds.  At the end of each climb, the runner jogs back down and then repeats the hill again. These workouts help improve overall strength and speed.


Tempo runs over hills are done at race pace or faster over a course that includes long and short hills. The aim on these runs is to run a steady pace over the ups and downs. Runs such as this help improve VO2 max over the course of a training cycle. In the short term, we get accustomed to running through the periods when lactic acid builds up in the muscles and our minds tell us to quit!


Long runs on a hilly route need little explanation. These are run at usual long run pace – a fairly relaxed 15% or so slower than race pace – with the rolling hills naturally adding in periods of load and recovery. Long runs over hills add strength and improve the oxygen delivery system. Mixing in the hills simply ramps up the purpose behind any long run, which is to delay the onset of fatigue on race day.


While the physical benefits of hill running are tremendous, don’t underestimate the mental side. Think how much less foreboding Summit Avenue will seem when you have the confidence that comes from conquering hills in training!


Best wishes to all Medtronic Twin Cities Marathoners and to everyone else in your fall races!


Club Run Minneapolis is a nonprofit, independent group and a proud member of the Training Team Network for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. More information about membership and training programs is at