Hill Sprint Basics

"The first step in developing neuromuscular fitness is to perform a small number of very short, maximal-intensity efforts. As you know, I believe that the safest form of maximal-intensity training for all runners is short hill sprints...Run the prescribed distance at maximal effort up a steep hill. Recover by walking back down. Complete the prescribed number of repetitions. Start your hill sprints as you finish your easy run."
Brad Hudson & Matt Fitzgerald, authors of Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon

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In addition to aerobic fitness, running coach, Brad Hudson, talks about another type of fitness for runners: neuromuscular fitness. For Hudson, the best way to develop neuromuscular fitness is through hill sprints.

For me, to be honest I haven't done hill sprints for a few years. Lately, I've done longer hill repeats and sprints on a flat surface, but not hill sprints. For this round of marathon training, I'm incorporating hill sprints into my program one day per week at the end of an easy run. After finding a hill, I sprint at maximum speed and count 20 right leg strikes (or 40 both right and left) turn around and walk back.

I recommend being careful and conservative when introducing hill sprints into a training program; as they are deceptively taxing on the back half of the legs (or posterior chain). I started with four hill sprints, felt fine immediately afterward; yet a couple of days later one of my Achilles tendons tightened, warranting some TLC. In 2023, I’m starting with 4 hill sprints and taking a 3 minute jog to let my creatine phosphate system time to recharge. Like in my 2019 write up, I’ll be monitoring the effects of these sprints before increasing their number.

In this book, Hudson recommends doing hill sprints two times per week, and slowly building to 10 -12 hill sprints per session. In 2019, for my marathon training cycle, I did hill sprints one day per week and building to six per session. For 2023, each week I’ll alternate between hill sprints and longer hill repeats.

Thanks for reading...