“PUKE” was painted at the top of the paved hill at a training ground all Brown Crew members knew too well. It was part of Scott Roop’s dry-land training protocol: a straight shot from the bottom of college hill to the top 10 times in a row. The goal was to run up at full tilt and then jog down, attempting to replenish lost air and diffuse the leg burn. The ultimate commitment to the team was to fulfill the request spray painted on the pavement by past Brown oarsmen. It rarely happened, but shooting for that simple (and arguably gross) goal motivated us to perform our best. The harder we pushed ourselves on those hills, the more prepared we would be to do battle with the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Cal and UW – their names were all written on the pavement too. Hill repeats are still part of my routine today to keep me fit and ready for my next race, but I no longer push myself quite as hard as those college running days. Give them a shot yourself with the below hill routine. Not a runner? No worries. I got you covered.

I recommend that you find a hill in your area that would take you 70-90 seconds (250-400 yards) to jog up. For efficiency, use the time it takes you to travel to the hill from your house or gym as part of your warm-up and cool down jog. While this workout is geared toward running, remember, the impact can be minimized by running up the hill and walking/jogging down. If you can’t run (or just hate it), find a steeper incline and “speed hike” to the top (hike at a very fast pace).

The Hill Running Workout for Everyone

Set 1:

  • Run/Speed hike up the hill for 45 seconds at a hard intensity. Mark your finishing point (sign, house etc.)
  • Walk/Jog Down. Remember that staying light on your feet will prevent hammering your heels into the pavement. Take as long as you need to get to the bottom so that you are fully recovered before continuing.
  • Repeat 4x. With each repeat, see if you can get to the same point or move farther up the hill.
  • Take a 3 min break (hydrate, stretch etc.)

Set 2:

  • Run/Speed hike up the hill for 60 seconds. Mark your finish point.
  • Repeat 4x, trying to match or beat your distance.

Depending on your time and fitness level, add or subtract the number of sets and repetitions. Also, if you feel running is not your strong point, alternate between running and speed hiking up to the top.