I know what the experts say about hill workouts or hill repeats as they are called. Most training plans call for a runner to find a hill of a certain grade and run up and down a number of times in a certain amount of time. Tried that. Results were not great. Didn't really see the benefits after I tried several published strategies. Progress was minimal.
Here are some of my thoughts. How many race courses use the same hill over and over? So why do you practice running hill repeats up and down the same hill? If you are running a marathon they don't reroute you back to the same hill like a hill repeat. That's like a ride at Disney World. You can just do it over and over. Same ride, same hill. It's like putting in your bathtub. How much variation is there with that one? It's like throwing a Frisbee into the wind over and over and wondering why you don't get better at it. It's like hitting one of those paddle ball things with the ball on the end of a rubberband. How good can it get?
For the past two months, I have been running two different training courses ( 6 and 9 miles) with several major and/or rolling hills throughout the routes that are of different grades and surfaces. Each hill has its own characteristic. No I haven't named them. Yet. To me, this simulates a true race course. One with a variety of challenges so that I can practice different strategies for the training run that day. I can reverse the courses and make the run harder due to the change in grades. I could on a given day run one twice. The benefits are already starting to show. I am using different muscles all of the time instead of the same ones doing hill repeats. I am running the courses faster each time and feel much more confident about upcoming race courses that will challenge me in the hill department. I am able to really reach out and develop good strides before the next hill. Good cross training which includes weight training helps a great deal too.
I know what the experts say, but.....See what you think. If you are running hill repeats, give what I have said here a try. See if you don't feel like it makes you more "race ready". We all find our strengths in different ways. We also have to try new ideas. So run for the hills. Work hard, but have fun!
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!