EPC Tips - Uphill/Downhill Tempo Intervals

Sep. 4, 2014

This is a great session to include in your build up towards a hilly race; trail running and XTERRA triathlons are a no brainer, but training your legs to run fast downhill is also important for road running and triathlons. The strength, stability, agility and body awareness are critical factors to being able to run fast downhill. Often the downhill segments come late in the race when you’re fatigued, and it’s easy to give up time on the descents if you’re not used to letting it go when the run heads down the mountain.

This is a favorite session of mine to build the strength and confidence to be able to run downhill fast. I use this session with our XTERRA athletes prepping for the hilly courses at Beaver Creek, Ogden, and Maui. The session includes uphill intervals to build the “push-off strength” (concentric) required for going uphill, along with downhill intervals to build the “landing strength” (eccentric) as you ‘catch’ yourself with every step as you control your ‘fall’ down the hillside. Be sure to ease into these sessions as they can leave you surprisingly sore the next day as the extra pounding and quadricep strength required on the downhill is not something most runners train at speed very often. The grade of the hill should be moderate to steep, with decent footing, so you can safely run fast downhill. Too steep or too rocky/rooty and you can’t run down fast enough for the intended training effect.

Uphill/Downhill Tempo Intervals:


  • Dynamic drills
  • 10:00 easy running
  • 4x 0:20 strides

Main Set:

  • 6:00-12:00 uphill run at ‘race pace’ effort
  • 1:00-3:00 rest at the top
  • 4:00-8:00 downhill run at ‘race pace’ effort
  • 1:00-3:00 rest at the bottom
  • repeat 2-4 times


  • 5:00-10:00 easy running
  • 5:00 walk

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. Racing XTERRA USA and/or World Championships this Fall? Then checkout our XTERRA Championship specific Group Coaching Program for a complete XTERRA specific program leading up to the BIG races!

EPC Tips