One of the workouts I look forward to the least is hill repeats. Why? Because they hurt more than anything! Although (relatively) short, when done repeatedly, the lactic acid builds up until the legs burn like no other. The one thing that I have learned about hill repeats over the years is that the easiest way to get through them is to just do them quickly and the pain train will be over faster. Go slowly, and it hurts just as much, only for longer.
The hill I've chosen for my repeats is a nasty one. A hill I hope never to see in an actual race. The entire thing is well over a mile long with a few flat sections, so I took a steep 1/4 mile section for my workout to kick my arse. Its so steep that when I am running up it, I am usually passing any cyclists struggling in their easiest gear. In fact, last time I was doing repeats I saw a man struggling his way up in the middle of hill till he could no longer pedal and he fell over on his side. Luckily, he fell onto the side that had a mound of grass next to him, so the impact wasn't as bad as it could be. So needless to say, this is a good hill for a tough workout.
Today's workout was a 15 minute warm up, followed by 6 x hill repeats, and a 15 minute cool down. The last time I did the same hill repeats (about 2 weeks ago), my times were around 2:05 per hill set and I did 4 repeats. My hill repeats this time went something like this:
1: 2:04 - I know I can go faster than this
2: 1:59 - Thats more like it
3: 1:58 - Starting to burn, but I can keep this up
4: 1:57 - Ouch, but only 2 more to go!
5: 1:57 - Hows that for consistency ;)
6: 1:48 - Gotta go hard on the last one
Yea, I pushed on the last one really hard. But, the big thing I learned from this is how much more power I have in my step. I was able to hold a faster pace, with more repetitions than last time, and I did it faster. That is what we call progress.