One-Hour Workout: Hills + Tempo Run

Enjoy mixing up the terrain and the intensity with this off-season session.

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Like many of you, at this time of year I’m just looking to hold on to some fitness as race season wraps up and we move toward the off-season. I am looking for workouts that are more about variety than focused on developing a specific aspect of fitness, since that’s what I’ll tackle once I return to in-season training.

This run workout combines hill work and tempo work to spice things up a little. It also provides a little reality distortion as running at tempo on flat ground will feel relatively easy compared to running hard uphill. Execute the workout based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion), not pace, making sure that your chosen effort level for the hills allows you to work hard without losing steam before the top. Your effort level for the tempo portion should feel a touch easier than it was on the hills, which you’ll need since you’ll hold that pace quite a bit longer.

This workout can be done indoors on a treadmill or outdoors on your favorite hill. If you’re on a treadmill, set the incline to 3-4% for the hills and 0% for the recoveries, which should be 1.5x the duration of the hill.

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One-Hour Workout: Hills + Tempo Run


15 minutes easy; RPE 3 out of 10

Main Set

8 rounds of: 1-minute hill interval at your 5K race pace effort; RPE 7/10
Recover with an easy jog to the bottom of the hill (about 90 seconds); RPE 3/10

Then straight into:
10 minutes at your 10K race pace effort; RPE 6/10


About 10 minutes easy, RPE 3/10, to finish out the hour.

Alison Freeman is a co-founder of and triathlon coach with NYX Endurance in Boulder, Colorado. She works with a wide range of age-group athletes, but new athletes are her favorites because there is no such thing as too many questions.

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