Running workout: 1-min uphill intervals

Running workout: 1-min uphill intervals

Workout

10 x 1-min uphill intervals @harder effort

One of the most valuable abilities for trail runners is to maintain good running technique and intensity during uphill segments. Uphill intervals are the way to go if you want to improve your technique and fitness for running uphill.

You can complete this session on the road or trail; however, the trail can bring additional benefits, such as:

  • getting comfortable with transitioning between uphill and downhill segments,
  • understanding what pace feels best for up and downhills
  • improving co-ordination on technical trails
  • working on maintaining focus during tough sections.

Workout structure

Warm-up 

Start at an easy and comfortable intensity for 10-20 minutes.

Stretching and Running Drills

Stop for a moment to stretch and activate major muscle groups (hamstrings, calf muscles, lower back). You can add-on some simple running drills, e.g., high knees drill, butt-kickers drill, skipping, short 50 metre strides.

Main set

Find an uphill segment with moderate or steep incline. Avoid overly technical trails with big unstable rocks.

Complete 8-10 x 1-min intervals (hard intensity, at 85-95% capacity). Take 10s to catch your breath and slowly jog downhill to where you started. Recover for 30s at the bottom and repeat.

Cool-down 

Easy jog for 10 minutes

Pacing and how it should feel

Focus on maintaining efficient technique and adopt a gradual, progressive pacing strategy.

Use the first few intervals to ‘lock in’ in good uphill running technique. Don’t worry too much about reaching high intensity just yet, your engine is still warming up! Keep your step rate high and stay on the balls of your feet without allowing your heels to drop too low. Drive your knees a bit higher than usual, and keep your core muscles tight. Even if you choose a conservative pace for your initial intervals, don’t be surprised that your muscles start burning after the initial ~30 seconds of running.

Intervals 4-6 should be the most productive part of the session. Increase the pace to the desired intensity. However, it is essential to keep making small pace adjustments during each interval. For example, if you notice that your power is dropping a bit too much at the end of each interval, allow the initial 15 seconds to be more gentle. Be ready for heavy breathing and leg heaviness to set in earlier, about 20-25 seconds into the 1-min interval. Your muscles will be accumulating more lactate and other fatigue metabolites.

The final intervals will be hard. It is ok to allow a bit more recovery time before attempting the last intervals. Now is a time to re-focus on your running technique and ensure that you can still maintain a similar running form as you started. If necessary, it is better to lower the intensity but maintain good running technique until the end.

Advanced version

Disclaimer: only attempt the advanced version of this session if you have experience with faster downhill training and have completed uphill interval training before.

10 x 1-min uphill efforts with immediate fast downhill at your @hard pace

1 rep = 1 x 1-min hard uphill effort

+ 5-10s to catch your breath

+ 1 x fast descent (~30-45s)

+ 1 min recovery at easy pace or standing recovery and repeat again (8 to 10 times)

Additional tasks

[1] the descent (including catching your breath at the top) has to be faster than overall climb = good pacing.

[2] maintain focus and body control during descent.

[3] try to memorise tricky bits (roots, rocks, muddy segments) during the initial ascents and try find a better strategy to move through them in the following attempts.

[4] make the final climb the fastest and complete the last downhill segment at your recovery pace.

Have fun training!

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