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Many runners include uphill workouts in their training. A standard hill workout might include running up a moderately sloped hill (8 to 12 percent grade) for 30 seconds at a hard effort then jogging back down the hill for recovery. Most runners complete six to 12 repetitions.
Legendary coach Arthur Lydiard, however, liked to add some variety by having his runners run some downhill repeats as well. He often used hill circuits or loops, with uphill repeats on a moderately sloped hill and downhill repeats on a very gradual decline.
Since the purpose of the hill training is to prepare for upcoming speed workouts, a Lydiard-style circuit provides not only the uphill running necessary for building leg strength but also the downhill repeats for developing leg turnover—making the first few speed workouts feel less like a full-on sprint.
The key is to find a gentle downhill (2 to 4 percent grade) where you can run fast but not feel out of control. This helps avoid excessive pounding and results in better leg turnover.
As with any workout, it’s important to include a proper warm-up before the downhill repeats and to focus on good form when running fast down the hill. If you find your leg turnover lacking, try some gentle downhill repeats. A workout of four to eight 50-meter downhill repeats added to your usual uphill workout can do wonders for your finishing sprint.
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