Some quick hits from an interesting article in Running Times by Brad Hudson about hill sprints.
Thanks to the Morning Runner for pointing out this article in her blog, where she also discusses a book called Run Faster by Brad Hudson.
Why do hill sprints?
"Well, these brief, maximal-intensity efforts against gravity offer two key benefits. First, they strengthen all of the running muscles, making you much less injury-prone. They also increase the power and efficiency of your stride, enabling you to cover more ground with each stride with less energy in races. These are significant benefits from a training method that takes little time and is fun to do."
"Your first session, performed after completing an easy run, should consist of just one or two 8-second sprints on a steep gradient of approximately 6 to 8 percent."
"First, increase the number of 8-second sprints you perform by one or two per session per week. Once you're doing 8 to 10 sprints, you may move to 10-second sprints and a slightly steeper hill. After a few more weeks, you may advance to 12-second sprints on a 10 percent gradient, if you feel the need to increase your stride power."
"Most runners will achieve as much strength and power improvement as they can get by doing 10 to 12 hill sprints of 10 to 12 seconds each, twice a week. Once you have reached this level and have stopped gaining strength and power, you can cut back to one set of six to 10 hill sprints per week. This level of maximal power training will suffice to maintain your gains through the remainder of your training cycle."
Recovery between sets:
"Always allow yourself the opportunity to recover fully between individual sprints within a session. In other words, rest long enough so that you are able to cover just as much distance in the next sprint as you did in the previous one. Simply walking back down the hill you just ran up should do the trick, but if you need more time, take it. Some of the runners I coach like to walk down the first part of the hill backwards. Doing so helps to stretch the Achilles tendons and calves."
"When doing hill sprints, resist the temptation to turn the session into a regular hill workout. As I've explained, hill sprints are solely a muscular-strength workout. Trying to make it "harder" or "more of a workout" by quickly jogging down the hill or otherwise cutting the recovery defeats the purpose of hill sprints, because doing so will reduce the intensity of your sprints."
How to work it into your training schedule:
"This might sound odd, but I recommend scheduling your hill sprints for the day before your hardest sessions, such as a track workout or tempo run. Precede the hill sprints with your normal recovery day easy run, and follow it with a short jog of a mile or less."
Good stuff. Looks like I need to find some hills to work into my Wednesday night recovery runs.
Have a great Friday!