Sub-1hr session: run to the hills

Boost your run speed in a short amount of time with this workout which delivers lots of 'bang for your buck' in terms of race pace and endurance

Run to the hills

If you want to boost run speed, hill reps offer great benefits in a nominal amount of time. Emma-Kate Lidbury points you uphill…


Equipment needed: run shoes, socks, shorts, top, watch/heart rate monitor/GPS, training partner.

How to fit it in: position this session away from other intense bike and run workouts so you can give it your all. Be aware that you may have some muscle soreness during the next few days, so be prepared and schedule swims or lighter runs/bikes to allow recovery and adaptation time.

Hill kicks


15mins easy run, build the pace in the last 5mins and include a few 15-20sec sprints once warmed up.

Main session 

8 x 40-60secs all-out sprints on a 5-7% incline. Take 2mins rest/walk down between. Go straight into 15mins smooth pace to finish.


5mins easy jog.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

All-out sprints are never easy, but if done correctly and consistently they yield huge speed and endurance rewards. Sprints like this will build run speed and power which is great, especially at this time of year when it’s important to hit higher intensity efforts. Recover well between sprints to ensure you can hit top speed on each. Ideally do it with a training partner or two so you can push each other to the max.

Mental benefits

If done correctly, this session will hurt – and it’s supposed to. It’ll teach both your body and mind about consistently working at your maximum. It’s important to practise this in training, because on race day, when the pain hits, you need to have plenty of coping strategies in place.

Physiological benefits 

This workout gives you plenty of bang for your buck, as the all-out sprints are designed to work top-end speed and anaerobic power as well as activate your glutes and promote optimal run form. Sprinting on a gradient forces you to run with good form, so be sure to focus on this. It should feel surprisingly easy moving straight into the 15mins smooth run after the sprints because your neuromuscular system will be fired up. You should feel good working at this lower intensity and your aerobic endurance will reap the benefits.

Adapt for Ironman

Extend the warm-up/pick-ups to 20-30mins. Also extend the final 15mins to 20-30mins and run at or just below your target Ironman run pace. Alternatively, try a double run day and make this the first run of the day. Follow with a shorter shake out run in the evening.


Like this? There are lots more sub-1hr sessions in our Training section