There is something about hills that I just can’t resist. Inspired by my trip to San Francisco last week, I decided to write a post with some of my favorite hill workouts in State College, PA. Get your heart beating and your quads burning!
Don’t forget to leave a comment if I missed your favorite hill or if you try any of these workouts!!
1. Research Drive repeats (400s)
This is my favorite hill workout. If you start doing it once every 2-3 weeks and don’t get faster and stronger I’ll return your money, guaranteed!
- Length — 4.5 miles (with 2.5 repeats, you can add more)
- Elevation gain — 241 feet
- Concept — 400 meters uphill sprints
- Road type — Bikepaths and sidewalks
- Where — Loop from the Haymarket Park on Bristol Ave
- Description — The course starts from the parking lot of the Haymarket Park. Begin with a 1.5 mile warm-up on a 2-3% incline up the bike path to the top of Research Dr. Research Dr is a Λ-shaped half-a-mile-long quiet little street. Jog down northbound to Bristol Ave, catch your breath, and sprint back up to the top as fast as you can. Jog down southbound to Whitehall Rd, catch your breath, and sprint back up again. Repeat as many times as you have it in you (or you think it is safe). Finish up with a flat cool-down jog back to the starting point.
- Kicker — For an extra challenge, take a good break between repeats and sprint as fast as you can on your way up. My PRs are 1:04 on the northbound climb and 1:48 on the southbound climb (strava.com/activities/456096972/overview). Can you beat them?
- Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/950977781
2. 10k with 2+1 hills
Up and down Deerfield Dr, then up and down Circleville Rd, and then up and down Deerfield Dr again.
- Length — 6.3 miles
- Elevation gain — 558 feet
- Concept — 3 moderate climbs with flat recovery segments in between
- Road type — Sidewalks, residential roads, and some shoulders. Part of Circleville Rd is fast and has a small shoulder. So, I only like running it when there is light traffic and plenty of daylight.
- Where — Out and backs from Greenbriar Saybrook park on N Foxpointe Dr
- Description — Deerfield Dr is a wonderful tiny quiet road that goes up a hill and makes a small inclined loop at the top. Starts with a climb up and down Deerfield Dr. Then, there is a flat recovery segment along Sleepy Holow Dr until you find Circleville Rd. Run up Circleville until the road flattens out. Then, turn around and head down and back for another go at Deerfield Dr. The map takes a small detour on the way back to make the down hill slightly less steep.
- Kicker — For an extra challenge, do some negative splits. The second time you go up Deerfield Dr try to match your time for the first time. I try every time but I haven’t made it yet.
- Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/950999137
3. University Drive Repeats (800s)
Similar to Research Dr repeats, except that each climb is half a mile instead of a quarter mile. Lots of love for this one too!
- Length — 5.7 miles
- Elevation gain — 474 feet
- Concept — 800 meters uphill sprints
- Road type — Sidewalks
- Where — Loop starting from the downtown Anthym Running store, #RunLoud
- Description — Starting from the back Anthym Running store, the workout starts with a mile-long flat/downhill warm-up along Locust Ln, Prospect Ave and down University Dr. Then the repeats begin along University Drive between Eeasterly Pkwy and S Atherton St. Sprint on the way up, recover on the way down, and take breathers in between as needed. The focus of this workout are the fast uphill sprints. So, make sure to advantage of your recoveries so that you can push to the max on your way up. Save some gas for the way back, because there is one more climb up Garner St.
- Kicker — Do you have one more rep in you? Treat the Garner St climb as an extra interval and sprint up at your fastest pace.
- Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/951019171
4. State College Ridge
If you see a topological map of downtown State College, you will notice a ridge running (roughly) along E Hamilton Ave, W Fairmount Ave, and W Foster Ave. The course for this workout follows this ridge and branches down and up the slopes for a variety of short sweet climbs. This is another interval workout. However, unlike the previous ones, each climb is different!
- Length — 7.8 miles
- Elevation gain — 480 feet
- Concept — 9 different short hill intervals
- Road type — Sidewalks
- Where — Loop starting from the Fitology Studio on Westerly Pkw, Fitness Powered by Science™
- Description — Starting from the Fitology Studio, follow Westerly Pkwy east for a 0.8 mile warm-up. Then the intervals begin: (1) Gardner Rd, (2) Pugh St, (3) Allen St, (4) Fraiser St, (5) Atherton St, (6) Gill St, (7) Sparks St, and, the last one, (8) W Foster Ave. Then, simply make your way back to Westerly and Fitology.
- Kicker — The cool thing of looping around Fitology is that you can take a class after you are done. How about some Les Mills BODYFLOW®?
- Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/951017575
5. Across the valley
To the depths of Nittany Valley, then to the base of Tussey mountain and back to the start, for a nice Down-Up-Down-Up.
- Length — 5.15 miles
- Elevation gain — 477 feet
- Concept — W-shaped course with a long steady climb and a second shorter climb at the end
- Road type — Sidewalks on Pine Grove Mills, and the shoulder of the PA 26 route (the shoulder is really wide, but it is a 45mph road)
- Where — Out and back from the gas station on the intersection of Whitehall Rd and W College Ave
- Description — Follow the PA route 26 down to the Naked Egg Cafe, and then up to Pine Grove Mills and towards Whipple Dam. Take a right turn on W Chestnut Street to complete a really tough 1.5 mile climb at a steady pace. Then turn around and head back to the start. On the way back, the first climb is now a downhill, and the initial downhill turns into one last climb right before the end of the workout.
- Kicker — The first climb should get your quads pretty fatigued. Finish strong by sprinting up that last climb on your way back. Don’t let your legs slow down until you reach the very top!
- Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/951010189
Some cool hills that didn’t make the list:
- Starting from Boalsburg Rd, take Brush Valley Rd and continue north to Lenaple Ln for a nice half-a-mile-long steep hill (9-14% incline)
- Starting from the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, take Orchard Rd northbound and continue left onto University Park all the way to Beaver Stadium for a mile long hill (this is actually the last climb of the Nittany Valley Half-Marathon)
- Black Hawk Rd from Brush Valley Rd to the Black Hawk Gap is an awesome 1 mile long steep hill on gravel roads surrounded by truly beautiful scenery. It is a bit isolated though. So, you have to either drive out there, or make it part of a really long run.
- Beckwith Rd, out of Port Matilda and south onto the 550 Halfmoon Valley Rd looks like an awesome hill. But I haven’t had the chance to run it yet.
- Legs 1, 6 and 11 of the Tussey Mountainback Ultramarathon