A Faster 5k

Why Every Runner Should Train On Hills

As a runner, hills can seem intimidating. Your legs burn, your breathing becomes labored, and you feel like you’re moving at a snail’s pace. However, incorporating hills into your running routine is one of the most effective ways to improve your performance. Hills build strength, improve form, increase speed, and prepare you for challenging terrain. Any runner looking to take their training to the next level needs to add hill workouts into the mix.

There are several types of hill workouts that target different goals including running A Faster 5k. Here are some of the most effective to include in your training:

Uphill Sprints

Uphill sprints build explosiveness and power. They train your muscles to generate maximum force in a short period of time.

To perform uphill sprints, find a moderate grade hill that takes 10-15 seconds to climb. Run up the hill at maximum effort, focusing on driving your arms and knees up powerfully. Jog back down to recover and repeat 6-10 times. Your goal is to climb the hill faster with each repetition.

Uphill sprints build leg strength quickly. They also improve running efficiency as you focus on optimal form while fatigued.

Long Hill Climbs

Long gradual hill climbs develop endurance and mental toughness. They prepare you to maintain speed and effort on challenging terrain.

For this workout, find a long steady incline that takes 1-3 minutes to climb. Run up the hill at your goal 5K pace. Use your arms powerfully to help drive upward. Stay relaxed and focus on maintaining pace as you ascend. Jog back down and repeat 3-5 times.

Long hill climbs improve stamina and teach your body and mind to push hard even when fatigued. They are key for building 5K performance.

Hill Fartleks

Fartlek runs alternate hard and easy paces randomly. Hill fartleks add the challenge of hills to this mix.

To execute hill fartleks, find a route with short rolling hills. As you run the course, surge up the hills at 5K effort. Recover as you crest the hill, then surge again on the next one. Vary the surges from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Hill fartleks provide an excellent cardio workout while mimicking the pace changes of an actual race. They teach your body to handle fluctuations in intensity.

Downhill Running

Downhill running allows you to move at faster speeds with less effort. This helps improve leg turnover and efficiency.

Seek out a long, gradual downhill that allows at least 2-3 minutes of descent. Stride smoothly down the hill at your current 5K race pace or slightly faster. Use the slope to your advantage as you maintain speed with shorter strides.

Regular downhill running improves coordination and foot speed. It enables you to maintain paces that feel fast with less exertion.


Repeats involve running shorter hill segments with recovery intervals. This workout provides strength and speed benefits without overtaxing your body.

For repeats, choose a hill that takes 20-40 seconds to climb. Run up the hill at your current 5K race pace or faster. Walk or jog back down for recovery. Start with 4-6 repetitions and build up to 8-10 over time. Maintain proper form as fatigue sets in.

Repeats train muscular endurance and speed. With practice, your pace going uphill will become faster.


Benefits of Hill Training

Hills make you a stronger, faster, more efficient runner. Here are some of the biggest benefits you will gain:

  • Increased leg strength and power – Hills build muscular endurance and force production.

  • Improved running form – Climbing hills cues proper posture and mechanics.

  • Enhanced speed and turnover – Faster cadence and leg speed can be maintained.

  • Greater stamina and endurance – Both mental and physical fatigue resistance is improved.

  • Balanced muscle development – Hills work all major leg muscles evenly.

  • Improved confidence on varied terrain – Ability to maintain pace on hills transfers directly to races.

  • Better race performance – Runners who train on hills regularly run faster in races with hills.


Any runner looking to maximize their potential needs to incorporate hill training into their regimen frequently. Find ways to include uphill climbs and downhill running in most runs. Dedicate 1-2 days a week to intense hill repeats or fartleks. Adding in hills makes your training more race specific. It also develops the muscular and cardiovascular capabilities to help you power up the leaderboard in your next 5K.

Train On Hills