Here is the hill workout to end all hill workouts. We call it the Valley of the Champions. My cross country team does it once a week and it progressively gets more challenging. This morning it was about 85 degrees, with 70% humidity, but we had some cloud cover. Once school starts, we move the workout to the afternoon, where for the next month or so, it will be over 100 degrees (sometimes between 105-110). You want to get strong, tough, and fast? Run the Valley of the Champions workout.
What is the Valley of the Champions? It is an area, in Palm Desert, where you will find three hills that form somewhat of a valley between them. Each hill is slightly steeper than the next. The workout is to run 5-10 repeats on each hill, starting with the least steep and progressing to the steepest. It is a killer workout.
Hill #1 is about a 4% grade. Each repeat is about 50-75 yards. Push yourself up the hill. Jog back down and repeat. Today the team did nine repetitions on each hill.
Next hill up is a little bit steeper, about in the 8-10% range. It’s also a little shorter, probably about 50 yards. Nine intervals, here we go!
And finally, hill #3. At about 12-15%, definitely the mother of all hill repeats. By this time, everyone is tired and dehydrated, it’s hotter, if anything it is more humid. What can I say, it’s cross country. As we (cross country runners and coaches) say, “our sport is your sport’s punishment.”
One of my favorite running athletes is Frank Shorter, the last American man to win the Olympic marathon back in 1972. I’ve met him a couple times (and actually have his autograph on an old Rock & Roll Marathon poster). It was Shorter who said that “Hills are speed work in disguise.” This workout is guaranteed to make you a stronger faster funner. (He also said, “Because running fast is more fun than running slow,” and, “You don’t run 26 miles at five minutes a mile on good looks and a secret recipe.” I like Frank Shorter. A lot.)
Be sure to warm up before doing this hill workout. The team ran 1.5 miles to the starting point (and had to run back as a cool down). You shouldn’t do a hill workout more than once a week.
And now, enjoy this short video of the team on hills #1 and #3. Check out the determination in their faces. Pretty awesome, don’t you think?
Do you do hill training? Do you have a favorite hill workout?