“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
When it comes to hill training we have two things to combat. First is our willingness to suffer. Second is our ability to make the work fun. When you add variety to your hill workouts, you will begin to enjoy them, become better at climbing hills and begin to suffer less.
Here are three alternative workouts, and strategies, for hill climbing.
Accelerations – this is a climbing workout you can do on the flats. Get into your big chain ring and a small cog. Roll along slowly, say 5 miles per hour. Now, accelerate as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds. Remain in the saddle when you do this workout. After a sufficient recovery, repeat this acceleration 10 to 15 times. You will improve your hill climbing, hill sprinting and your ability to use that big gear!
Top of The Hill – this is an often forgotten aspect of hill climbing. Too often I’ve seen people reach the crest of a hill and back off their effort. But, you can gain a tremendous advantage by powering over the top of the hill. When climbing a hill, stay in the saddle and spin easily. Use an easier gear than you normally would. As you come within 200 meters of the top of the hill, shift into a bigger gear and jump up and power over the top. Be sure to continue your push for about 100 meters over the top, until gravity adds its reward. You will gain not only the power to finish your climbs, but the psychological edge over your competition.
Surge – don’t climb that hill at a constant pace! Add surges of higher cadence for about 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat this surge a couple of times on each hill you climb. Climb the hill just below your Lactate Threshold (90% max). Then increase your cadence about 10 rpm for the surge. After the surge return to just below your LT for about one minute. Don’t forget to use a surge at the top of the hill.