Challenge Session: Hill Repeats to the Death

Below is a training session that requires nothing more than a bike, stopwatch, and a heavy dose of motivation.

As an athlete I fear these sessions because I know how excruciating they will be, but as a coach I get a little sadistic enjoyment because I know the athlete will be cursing my name throughout their death march.

The best part about these types of training sessions is that they require the athlete to dig deep within themselves both mentally and physically. These sessions set apart the people that can dig just a little deeper to bridge that gap to the winning move or keep hammering the seemingly unending climbs on a long gravel race.

You will want to quit multiple times, but the more time you say NO and head into the next repeat with that never quit attitude the more likely it will become a habit. These are the habits of a headstrong racer, and this is a habit building type of session!

Hill Repeats to the Death

Find a hill that takes 30-40 seconds to climb at maximum intensity. The ideal location will have low traffic, an easy turn-around at the top and bottom, and predictable roads for later in the session when you are seeing cross-eyed.

Warm-up:

30-40 minutes, gradually increase intensity throughout the duration of the warm-up. Include a few high cadence spin-ups and a couple short jumps out of the saddle. It is also a good idea to perform 1-2 moderate intensity repeats up the climb you intend on using for the interval session.

Main Set:

(∞) x 30-40″ Repeats w/60-90″ recovery

—> Complete every repetition at your absolute max. Your time on the first two should be strong and fast, but they do not matter much. Your baseline for the rest of the training session will come from the third repeat. Going forward, your goal is simple; continue smashing that climb until your time drops 20% from that third interval. Why 20% you ask? Because it makes the math simple!

Example:

  • Repeat 1 = 30 seconds
  • Repeat 2 = 31 seconds
  • Repeat 3 = 34 seconds <---- This is your baseline time moving forward.
  • Repeat 4 = 34 seconds
  • Repeat 5 = 36 seconds
  • Repeat 6 = 37 seconds
  • Repeat 7 = 39 seconds
  • Repeat 8 = 40 seconds (hitting that mental block – time to rally!)
  • Repeat 9 = 39 seconds (see, I knew you had more)
  • Repeat 10 = 40 seconds (now the legs are starting to shake, but you still have more!)
  • Repeat 11 = 41 seconds (this is your cut-off time, but see if you can get just one more)
  • Repeat 12 = 45 seconds (your legs exploded into a glorious ball of flames and are now useless. Cool down and call it a day)

To quickly get 20% move the integer left one space, multiply by two, then add that back to your base time.

  1. Baseline time = 34 seconds
  2. 3.4 x 2 = 7 (always round up so you get to do more repeats)
  3. 34 + 7 = 41

That is some simple stuff, but I will admit this would probably stump me for a second or two on the road trying to do this on the fly. Now that you’ve read through this quick math class review you’ll have no issues on the road while your brain is trying to comprehend what’s happening to your body.

Cool-down

Spin for at least 10-15 minutes, or until you feel somewhat normal again. Get a proper recovery meal, some fluids, and finish the day with that special feeling you can only get after turning yourself inside out on the bike!

If you’re face looks like this throughout the training session you’re probably doing something right!

Photo: Dean Warren

The Challenge

There are two parts to this challenge. The first step is to knock out this training session and give it absolutely everything you have. The second step is to head back out a week or two later to try it again and demand your body/mind to give you at least one more repetition than the first time.

You got this,

Coach Kent