So, we have looked at gym work and long runs as part of your training for a half marathon and now, in part three, we are looking at hill training!
Hill training is so important when training for any race distance but especially important for the longer distances such as 5k, 10k and half marathons. In simple terms, if your race route is relatively flat then using hills in your training will make your race day experience so much easier and more enjoyable. Equally, if the course is hilly then you need to make sure you have trained on hills, for obvious reasons!
When considering hill training you should look at introducing two types :
Make sure that your longer training runs, which we looked at in our previous post, include a few hills along the route. They don’t have to be big hills; gradual inclines will suffice and in some cases will actually be more beneficial. So, within a long run of, say, 6-7 miles you should choose a route that includes at least two decent hills and 2-3 fairly long, steady inclines.
When you take the hill/incline don’t sprint up it just to get it done, take your time to take on the hill and, over time, you will be able to run the hill and still have enough legs to carry on running the rest of the course. It’s no good if running up the hill completely takes it out of you and you can’t carry on, so build up your hill running pace gradually over a period of a few weeks.
The second part is to work on some much shorter and steeper hills within your training programme. So, you need to find a fairly “short, steep hill” approx 15-20mins away from your starting point so you can have a steady run to the hill itself. The hill can be a steep road or grass/woodland area, whichever you prefer, but it does have to be quite steep!
This training programme works like this:
- Start at the bottom of the hill and sprint up the hill for approx 35-45 secs
- Make a note of where you finish after a max 45 sec sprint (house number, bench or lampost etc)
- Stop at this point, turn round or cross the road and jog slowly back down to your starting point.
- At the starting point sprint back up again, stopping at your reference point (house number, bench or lampost etc) recording your time on a stopwatch. Jog slowly back down to your start point.
- Repeat this 6-10 times aiming to produce the same time every time ie if your first sprint takes you 42 secs aim to make sure all 6-10 sprints are 42secs
- Once you have done your 6-10 hill sprints jog back home
Over a number of weeks you should be able to increase the number of hill sprints in each session from 6, in the first instance, up to a maximum of 10 each time.
So, that’s the hill training for you! Hill training is really tough but if you can stick at it (especially if your race day course is flat) then you will reap the rewards on race day.
Now, after our three posts so far, you are building up a weekly pattern of 3 sessions per week: A gym session, a hill session and a long, steady run and in the next, and final article, we will look at how interval training can help you achieve your best half marathon ever!