As a Coach, I’m often asked by athletes – “How do I get better at running up hills?” The simple answer is – by practising running up hills! The short hill rep sessions detailed in this section are designed to improve your hill running and are particular favourites with my training group.

Whenever possible we try to do them on a trail as nothing beats training in that environment. However, if you can’t get to a trail for whatever reason, your hill rep sessions can take place on pavements. Just make sure you take account of the obvious hazards that come with this.

Of course, there is no better training than the real thing for those who want to improve their hill running. In other words; going out for a long run on the trails with plenty of elevation followed by some crazy high-speed descents that makes your eyes stream!

Hill Session 1 – How Many Can You Do?

  • Location: Long hill, preferably with a mix of steep/flatter sections
  • Distance: Half mile / 800m
  • Time: 40 mins

Warm up: 10 mins easy pace on the flat with dynamic stretches e.g. side straddle, lunges, heel flicks, high knees etc.

Session: Start at the bottom of the hill, run to the top or for half mile/800m. When you reach this point, turn round and descend to the bottom – the downhill is your recovery time and the chance to get your breath back.

Keep repeating this for 40 mins – when time is up always finish the climb that you’re on.

Tips for climbing: Keep your head up, relax your shoulders and drive your arms. Try to increase your pace through the flatter sections. Take it steady early on –remember the session lasts for 40 minutes!

Tips for descending: Lean slightly forwards, relax your shoulders and have your arms out wider for stability. Try to be as light on your feet as possible.

Cool down: 10 mins easy pace on the flat followed by static stretches for the following muscle groups: calves, quads, hamstrings and shoulders, plus any others you may need.


Hill Session 2 – Lung Busting Hill Reps!

Why lung busting? You really need to ask one particular member of my group who has aptly named the session but you will soon discover this for yourself.

  • Location: Short hill, preferably with a short steep section
  • Distance: Quarter mile / 400m
  • Time: 1 minute x 14

Warm up: 10 mins easy pace on the flat with dynamic stretches e.g. side straddle, lunges, heel flicks, high knees etc.

Session: Start at the bottom of the hill, run up for 1 minute. When you reach this point, turn round and descend to the bottom – this is the recovery.

Repeat 14 times

Tips for climbing: Keep your head up, relax your shoulders and drive your arms. Try to reach the same point on the hill for each effort as this will ensure consistent pacing.

Tips for descending: Lean slightly forwards, relax your shoulders and have your arms out for stability. Try to be as light on your feet as possible.

Cool down: 10 mins easy pace on the flat followed by static stretches for the following muscle groups: calves, quads, hamstrings and shoulders, plus any other stretches that you choose.


Hill Session 3 – Feel the Burn!

  • Location: Long hill
  • Distance: Third of a mile / 500m
  • Time: 2 minutes x 8

Warm up: 10 mins easy pace on the flat with dynamic stretches e.g. side straddle, lunges, heel flicks, high knees etc.

Session: Start at the bottom of the hill, run up for 2 minutes. When you reach this point, turn round and descend to the bottom – this is the recovery.

Keep repeating until you have done it 8 times.

Tips for climbing: Keep your head up, relax your shoulders and drive your arms. Try to reach the same point on the hill for each effort as this will ensure consistent pacing – the last 30 seconds are challenging, personally my legs feel like they’re on fire!

Tips for descending: Lean slightly forwards, relax your shoulders and have your arms out wider for stability. Try to be as light on your feet as possible.

Cool down: 10 mins easy pace on the flat followed by static stretches for the following muscle groups: calves, quads, hamstrings and shoulders, plus any others you may need.

Improve Your Off Road Running with our Hill Rep Sessions

These are just a few of our recommended hill rep sessions to get you started with your trail training but running up and down hills of any description is going to improve your off road running. Give them a go and let us know how you get on. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave your comments below.



Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links which may provide a small commission to me at no cost to you. The products we recommend are either those that we’ve used or that our fellow runners have used.

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