The Hilly Broken Tempo Workout


This is a great workout when getting ready for a 10km or half marathon. The first tempo run should feel relatively steady and the second tempo run should be very tough. The short, steep, hard hills in the middle flood your legs with lactic acid so that you enter the last portion of the workout feeling like you are deep into a hard race.

The aim is to run the second tempo run at the same pace as the first one. It teaches you to learn to dig very deep when you are tired and want to stop. This is a valuable thing to learn because we usually face the toughest miles in the end of our races.

Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes,

3 mile tempo run,

3 minute jog recovery,

4×30 second steep hills,

3 minute jog recovery,

2 to 3 mile tempo,

Cool down for 15 to 20 minutes

There is a big mental aspect to this workout because you’re forced to fight the against the lactic acid that has built up in your legs after the hill repeats. That helps to prepare the legs and brain to fight hard and not give up when you feel like you can’t keep going. I try to time this workout in training programs when the athlete is fit but hasn’t raced in a while as it helps them to mimic the fatigue they will face in the final miles.

It is a tough workout so you may want to think about adding an extra day of recovery before running your next hard workout. As always, make sure you are rehydrating and getting some protein/carbs (See The Runner’s Ultimate Nutritional Recovery Routine) in the first 30 minutes post workout so your muscles can start recovering immediately.


Remove the guesswork from training to achieve your best performance with McMillan Running Training Plans.

For every distance between 800 meters and the marathon, these scientifically-based training plans include your McMillan Calculator training paces integrated, coach’s notes, and access to our prehab routines. Plus, the plans are delivered on a runner-friendly training log platform. Learn more.

Written By Greg McMillan
Called “one of the best and smartest distance running coaches in America” by Runner’s World’s Amby Burfoot, Greg McMillan is renowned for his ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching. While getting his graduate degree in Exercise Science he created the ever-popular McMillan Running Calculator – called “The Best Running Calculator” by Outside Magazine. A National Champion runner himself, Greg coaches runners from beginners to Boston Qualifiers (15,000+ and counting!) to Olympians.

Read Greg’s Bio




“I got my first Boston Qualifier today with a 21 personal record!”

– Ramona M.