Train to run faster – Hills and running intervals sample workouts

After setting our goals for 2018 and signing up for the Kauai Half Marathon and Marathon event, we started training. Both in the gym and on the road. Luckily at the beginning of the year, I was allowed to work from home for two weeks, so I was able to join Alin on 2 of his weekly running workouts: hills and running intervals. Here’s what we did and how we modified for my level.

Want to run faster? 2 sample hills and running intervals workouts, quick and effective. Fitness tips for running | Running tips | Faster 5k | Running improvement plan

1. Hills workout

This is one of Alin’s favourite type of running workout, and he wrote a few times about the benefits.

1. Warm up with a few squats, lunges and hip circles

2. Run at an easy pace for at least 1-2 km or until you find a hill (or set the incline level on the treadmill)

3. Repeat 6 times:

  1. Run up the hill as fast as you can for 1 min. Alin was running almost double the distance that I was managing
  2. Jog back downhill
  3. Rest for 2 minutes

4. Run back home at an easy pace (or another 1-2 km on the treadmill).

It got harder and harder with every uphill. I felt slower, but every time I convinced myself to try to get to the same point, even if it takes a few extra seconds.

It won’t be easy, it’s not supposed to be. By the end of it, I felt a bit sick and it’s not uncommon. But I was already done, gave my body some time to recover and then jogged home.

2. Running intervals workout

1. Warm up with a few squats, lunges and hip circles

2. Run at an easy pace for at least 1-2 km or until you find a long stretch of road you can use, as flat as possible. Aim for places that are not crowded and don’t require you to change direction when running. Flat, straight, and not crowded is what you’re after.

Running intervals on the canal

3. Decide on a distance. Alin, who’s already good at this, picked 400m. He was familiar with the area and knew the distance from previous runs using his fitness tracker. For me, a beginner, we picked the distance between 2 visuals – a pole and a tree. That was approximately 150m.

4. Have a trial interval. Run with a challenging speed the distance you picked. The speed needs to be faster than your current 5k speed, but you should be able to sustain it for the whole interval. If you start too fast, you’ll get slower and slower. It’s better to start slower and increase the speed if you see you can do more. Time your trial interval.

5. Repeat X times (Alin ran 4 intervals, I ran 10 because I had a shorter distance)

  1. Run the distance
  2. Rest for half the time it took you to get there
  3. Run back, ideally in the same amount of time it took the first time. Remember you’re aiming for very challenging, but constant speed
  4. Rest again

6. Run back home at an easy pace.

Benefits of running workouts

1. Improved speed

Along with gym sessions, high-intensity training improves your speed and cardiorespiratory system more than an easy run. You can’t take your running to the next level without an extra push.

2. Time effective

If you love running, but don’t always have hours available, a 30minute hard session will give you both the endorphins and the same benefits as a much longer but easy run.

How often do I need to do running workouts?

I only take part in one a week, but I also go to the gym and yoga classes, and this is how much I can fit in. Alin has bigger goals when it comes to running, so he does 2 or 3 every week. This was his strategy during the training for the sub 3 Chester marathon, but it improved his personal bests for all the distances.

Do you do any running workouts? Which ones? Do you run on a track for intervals?


  1. Nice article and good advice ?? I did a hill session this week for the first time in ages and loved it!

    1. Author

      “Loved” might be too much, but I understand the benefits so I’m trying to keep hills in the training plan. Having a buddy with me was of huge help though. Otherwise, I tend to keep it low intensity.

  2. I am going to have to start all over since I only run when it is warm out. I am not very good at running for a long time and do intervals with walking and can only do about two and a half miles. I am more of a sprinter in general and have always been a little down about distance running. This post has really encouraged me to not give up and to do things maybe a little differently per your suggestions.

    1. Author

      When starting out, it’s a good idea to run by time, not distance. Let’s say you want to go out for 30 minutes. You can alternate between running and walking, and after a few sessions, your walking times will be fewer. When you can run 30 minutes, you can usually run 5k (3.1 miles). And from there you can start working on speed. I recommend doing some strength training for the legs, otherwise, it might be too much. I know people who broke an ankle during their very first run! If the body is not used to it and it’s fragile, it might literally break. 🙂

Leave a Reply