One-Hour Workout: Leanda Cave’s Speed & Strength Hill Reps

Build your run-specific strength with this tough session from the former world champ.

Photo: Getty Images

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Leanda Cave knows a thing or two about building strength and speed—she remains the only woman to have won both the Ironman World Championship and the 70.3 world title in the same season (2012). Cave has since retired from pro racing and enjoys coaching athletes of all abilities. This week’s One-Hour Workout is one of her go-to sessions for increasing run-specific strength and speed.

You’ll begin with a 15-minute easy relaxed warm-up, building from Zone 1 to Zone 2 (or for those going by feel/Rate of Perceived Exertion, this equates to RPE 4/10 to RPE 5-6/10). On the flat, you’ll then do five sets of 20-second faster efforts (Zone 5, RPE 9/10) taking 40 seconds easy between each one. Cave said to finish these efforts at the base of a 4-6% grade hill. She said: “Stop and stretch here for two minutes or so before beginning the main set.”

The main set involves a series of short hill repeats, all in Zone 5/RPE 9/10, so be ready to work. First up, it’s four sets of 30-second intervals, running powerfully up hill, and recovering coming down until you reach your starting point. The second set involves two sets of 45 seconds uphill intervals, again at Zone 5/RPE 9/10, recovering on the downhill back to your starting position. You’ll then do one 90-second uphill effort at Zone 5/RPE 9/10, before jogging back down hill easy. You’re going to repeat this main set, but before you do, run five minutes on the flat (in Zone 2, RPE 5-6/10) and then repeat the series of uphill efforts.

Cave said: “On the uphill efforts, try to engage your glutes, maintain a forward lean from the core, and keep your cadence high. Take your time on the downhill/recovery so you can execute each hill with the right intensity and effort.”

Wrap up the workout with a 10-minute easy jog to cool down.

One-Hour Workout: Leanda Cave’s Speed & Strength Hill Reps


15 min. easy @ Z1-Z2 or RPE 4/10-5-6/10

5 x 20 sec. fast @ Z5 or RPE 9/10 with 40 sec. easy between each

Finish at the base of a 4-6% hill; stop to stretch for ~2 min.

Main set

4 x 30 sec. uphill fast @ Z5 or RPE 9/10, downhill easy

2 x 45 sec. uphill fast @ Z5 or RPE 9/10, downhill easy

90 sec. uphill fast @ Z5 or RPE 9/10, downhill easy

5 min. easy @ Z2 on the flat then repeat main set


10 min. easy

You can find out more about Leanda Cave and her coaching on Instagram @club_leanda_cave or on TrainingPeaks

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