Running Session That Replicates A Hill or Stair Run

Are you training for a mountainous trail event but you live on the flat? or you generally just struggle to find enough hills or stairs to train on?

This is a common problem faced by runners, and it can cause quite a few issues on race day. Mostly cramping in the calves, hamstrings and adductor muscles.

One option you could try is using a treadmill to replicate the uphill running. You could do some long treadmill sessions, varying the gradient and alternating between a fast hike and a run. This is good preparation for the uphill sections of a race, but it doesn't prepare your legs for the downhills, nor is it particularly helpful for preparing your legs to cope with stairs.

This Lunge-Squat-Lunge-Run Session is an easy way to help strengthen your legs for uphills, downhills and stairs no matter where you live. The idea is to use lunges and squats to increase the load on your leg muscles and also to get your joints and muscles working through a bigger range of motion. You then run 1km and repeat the squats and lunges - multiple times.

Scaling Options

For your first couple of sessions, make sure you pick a number of squats and lunges that is challenging, but not so hard that you can't run properly. Then, over your next few runs, you can start making the session harder.

There are a few ways you can vary this session to make it either easier or harder.

For an easier session you can:

  • Do less strength reps (25 lunges, 25 squats, 25 lunges)
  • Make the run sections longer (2km instead of 1km)
  • Make the total session shorter (8km total distance instead of 12km)

For a harder session you can:

  • Do more strength reps (100 lunges, 100 squats, 100 lunges)
  • Add weights to the exercises (lunges with 8kg in each hand, squats with a 16kg weight)
  • Make the run sections shorter (500m instead of 1km)
  • Make the total sessions longer (you could try it on your long run)