If training on the course is the most important training you can do in preparation for the Ridge Run, then doing hill repeats is the second most important.
What are Hill Repeats?
Hill repeats consist of running nearly as hard as you can up a steep hill for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then recovering by walking or trotting back down to where you started and doing it all over again.
Start with a few repeats and work towards a dozen per training session. If done consistently, like once a week or once every other week, they will quickly do wonders for your fitness.
Find a Long, Runnable Steep Hill
The hill should be steep, but not so steep you can’t actually run. For example, the steep way up the M below the M is way to steep. My favorite hill repeat trail is Sypes canyon trail. I start the repeat just past the first creek crossing (about 300 yards from the trail head) and run up to the rocky high point. This takes about me between 2 and 3 minutes.
What are the Benefits?
Running up a hill really taxes your energy systems; both aerobic and anaerobic forcing maximal fitness adaption. It also is a bit like weight training for the legs, building strength. You glean all these benefits without the usual risk of injury that typically comes with running at full speed on flat terrain.
Low Impact but Challenging
To get the same workout running on flat ground you nearly have to run full speed; risking injury such as pulling a hamstring. You just can’t physically run uphill as fast as you can on level ground so the dynamic loads are less. Uphill running is gentler to the body, but still gives you a complete workout.
A Bargain of a Workout
Think of hill repeats as a cheap way to get huge benefits to fitness, without the costs or risks of injury that usually comes with full maximal workouts. There is a lot of the Ridge Run course that is uphill, and if you have done your hill repeats, it will make race day that much easier and faster.