The Effect of Intensive Up Hill Training in Improving Running Economy in Collegiate Distance Runners

Student Author(s)

Katie Hauge

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Mark Northuis

Document Type


Event Date



The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of high intensity uphill vs. flat ground intervals on running economy in trained collegiate distance runners. The sample population included collegiate cross country athletes that were assigned to either a control group, an uphill interval training group or a flat ground interval training group. The aerobic capacity and running economy of all participants were assessed during pre- and post-testing with a maximal VO2 treadmill and time to exhaustion tests. For the training groups, the 7-week study included a 5-week intervention of 6 workouts per week with two sessions at high intensities. The first of the two workouts was a 20-minute tempo on flat ground, and the second was an interval workout on either a flat or inclined surface depending on the group. Both groups worked at VO2max intensity for these intervals, but the flat ground group ran at a greater velocity. By contrast, the control group ran base miles without high intensity workouts for the duration of the study. Results indicated that uphill training induced gains in VO2 and percent VO2 at lactate threshold that were significantly greater compared with the flatground group. In addition, it was found that the flat-ground training group showed gains in velocity and percent velocity at lactate threshold, which significantly differed from the control group. There were no significant differences between the hill training and the control. These results indicate that there is potential benefit to uphill interval training for improving running economy, while any improvements in velocity related variables might require higher workout velocities.

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