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Regardless of whether or not you have a hilly tri in your future, all triathletes need to beef up their running strength in order to maintain pace and form after a hard bike leg. Though doing a dedicated strength routine separately from your daily swim, bike, or run workout is the best bet at building power and preventing injury, sometimes it can be hard to find time to get to the gym.
This week’s workout uses fast uphill and downhill intervals combined with body-weight strength exercises to build the specific muscles—and tolerance—you’ll need. By mixing strength training in with the running workout, this set will not only build power, but it’ll also teach you to run hills with proper form while fatigued.
While it’s ok to go into this workout slightly fatigued, because of the fast uphill and downhill running, be sure you’re not piggybacking this workout the day after a super tough/long ride or run. Also, be sure to give yourself a day or two of recovery before your next big bike or run session. Since the intervals aren’t too long, this is a fine early-season strength builder, but not a good choice too close to a key event. Do not attempt this workout if you have any recurring knee issues or current knee pain.
To perform this workout, find a hill with an incline between 5–10-percent grade that levels off after roughly two minutes of running at a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 8/10. You’ll also need to find some mostly flat ground at the top and bottom of the hill for recovery and the mid-set tempo.
Be sure to remember the most important queues for both the squats and the lunges: If you dropped an imaginary plumb bob from the front of your front knee, it should never be in front of your toes. Also, make sure your back remains long and tall—your shoulders should never hunch or curl forward.
10 minutes easy jog
4 minutes as 4x (15 sec build to RPE of 8/10, 45 sec easy)
15 x body-weight squats right into
2 minutes uphill at 8/10 RPE
2 minutes easy on flat ground at top of hill
5 x per leg walking body-weight lunge right into
1 minute (or however long to get down) at 7/10 RPE
4 minutes at 5/10 on flat ground at bottom of hill
1 minute easy on flat ground at bottom of hill
Repeat main set up to 3x
10 minutes easy jog
Stretch, focusing on quads and glutes