3 Best Hill Training Sessions For Half Marathon Runners

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Technical Articles

Want a faster half marathon time? Of course you do – every runner loves a PB. Here’s how to use hill sessions in your half marathon plan to cut minutes off your time.

How Hill Training Sessions Help You Run A Faster Half Marathon

1 Leg muscle strength – any kind of hill training builds strength in the key running muscles of your lower body – including hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

2 Running economy – hill sessions teach you to have a more efficient and more powerful stride which will translate into better running economy over a half marathon distance.

3 Fat loss and fitness – hill sessions burn a lot of calories, helping you get fitter and stay close to your ideal weight, which will help you run a faster half marathon.

4 Better lactate threshold – hill sessions (especially hill sprints or repeats) train your body to produce less lactic acid at higher intensity, and help you recover faster from the lactic you do produce.

Try These Hill Workouts For Half Marathon Training

Classic Hill Sprints

Best for: improving speed by building leg strength

Warm up with a 5-10 minute steady jog on the flat. For the session, start at the bottom of a 5%-10% incline hill. Run up as hard as you can for 30 seconds, turn and walk or jog back down. Aim for 2-3 minutes rest between each rep. Repeat this for 6, 8, 10, or 12 repetitions. Try to add 1 or 2 more each time you do this session. Cool down with a 10+ minute steady jog.

Long Hill Repeats

Best for: building endurance and fitness

Longer hill repeats improve your fitness, your confidence, and extend your point of exhaustion (giving you the physical and mental strength you need to run faster over a half marathon).

Find a long (500m+) hill of around 10% incline. Warm up first with a 5-10 minute jog, then set off up the hill and run steadily but strongly for 3-4 minutes. Jog slowly back down. The aim is to do equal time periods for the hill efforts and the recoveries. The hill efforts should feel about 70% of your 400m flat pace. Don’t know what that is? Just run strong and hard, but at a pace you can sustain for the full 3 minutes. Do 3 repetitions, and work up to 6 maximum as your training progresses.

The Finisher

Best for: rehearsing a strong race finish

You can also add hills in to the end of another training session, like a medium pace 3-5 mile run. Do this by designing your run to end at a hill (5%-15% incline), and carry on up the hill at your previous pace. Focus on maintaining this pace and running with good form: chest high, legs strong, breathing steady. You can finish your run here (with a cool down of course), or head back down the hill and then repeat the hill again.