Hills are the new speed work.

You’ve probably heard that hill repeats or hilly runs are actually speed work in disguise and this is 110% true. Yesterday was speed work day on my marathon training schedule and my workout of the day “8 miles of hills.” It was wayyyy too icy to run outside, and I’ve not even exaggerating or being a baby when I say that, it was ICY… so I ran indoors. I hadn’t actually planned exactly what I would do for “hills” on the treadmill so I punched in “8.0 miles” as my distance goal and just went with it, knowing I would be playing with some incline.


Thursday night I slept for TEN SOLID HOURS. I love reading week. I think the sleep really helped my tired muscles because I didn’t feel too sore at the gym after 2 hours of spin classes the day before. I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical to loosen up my body and get warmed up before my running workout. I wore bright pink tights because what is more motivating for hill runs than snazzy workout clothes.

bright tights

Once I got into my run I decided to do a pyramid hill workout. It allowed me to ease into the hills, and it kept me engaged the whole time because I was constantly adjusting my incline. The 8 miles flew by because I was more focused on when I needed to change the incline than how much longer I had to go. It was hard. Keeping speed at 5% incline is tough! I stayed at a relatively slow pace for the run (~9:20 min/mile) because I was generally at 1% or higher the whole run and I was more focused on not having to decrease my speed through the hills than I was on going fast.

hill workout

I was sure sweating during this run and I left feeling as if I actually had run super fast! Hills = speed work. By the end, the 1% and 2% inclines felt easy, whereas in the beginning they were already tough! During my run there was a lady on the treadmill next to me talking on the phone and trying to ask the person on the treadmill in front of her questions, relaying the answers to the person on the phone… in other words, a lot of yelling. She clearly didn’t see my subtle requests to calm the heck down and talk quieter.


After my run I did some single-leg press reps to work on strengthening my hamstrings which kind of doubles as a stretch! I also did some single leg raises to strengthen my hips. I was doing this on the floor of my living room the other night and my mom told me to raise my leg higher, my dad pointed out that keeping your leg lower is actually more beneficial to strengthen the hip muscles and a better form for the exercise.

hips dont lie

I love doing these (30X each side) and have definitely seen improvements in my hips since I started doing them after going to physio last spring! And THAT was speed work for week #2 of training!

What are your go-to post-run stretches?

Hill workouts? Worth it? Do you do ’em?


  1. I just finished hill running once a week for 5 weeks as part of my training for a half marathon in March. I ended up doing the hills with someone much faster than me and as a result for the first time really pushed myself to a pace I had no idea I could do on a hill. It was definitely a form of speed training for me and I highly recommend it!

Comments are closed.