Senior editor Mario Fraioli explains where and how to do hill workouts if there are no hills where you live.
There are no hills where I live. What can I do when there are hill workouts in my training program?
Don’t let a lack of undulations in your area keep you from reaping all the benefits a good hill workout has to offer. A little creativity can go a long way.
A few years ago when I was living on the east coast, a few of my former training partners in the Boston area became frustrated when harsh winter weather prevented them from doing hill workouts outdoors. Their solution: head for cover!
When my dedicated training mates couldn’t run hill repeats because of snowy or icy conditions, they would go to the nearest parking garage and run up and down for an hour or so. A flat-lander such as yourself can benefit from following a similar strategy, regardless of the season. Seek out an empty parking garage during off hours (in the early morning, evenings or on weekends) where you can run from bottom to top—or one level to the next—without much interruption. Be sure to stay alert and watch for traffic, and if the garage is dimly lit, wear something visible to allow drivers to see you clearly. If a suitable local parking garage isn’t an option, look for a long set of stairs at a stadium or even inside an office building (seriously, a back stairwell can be a great place to work on uphill running).
Finally, most treadmills allow you to increase the incline to your desired grade, or even simulate an undulating course. You also have the added advantage of controlling the length of the “hill” to suit your needs. For most hill workouts, a 4 to 6 percent incline is plenty steep enough to get your heart rate up, build strength and fine-tune your form.
Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.