Preparing for the mountains

I plan to do more mountain running this year and would be interested to receive advice on how best to improve. There’s some obvious things I can do like lose weight and just get out on the trails but I’m in London and the closest thing to mountains I have is Beckton Alps.

I’ve joined a gym for the first time in years and started doing PT sessions with the objective to improve allround (strength, stability, flexibility, balance etc). And of course they have treadmills & stairs and these are great for incline work.

I did my first treadmill incline stuff today, set the pace to easy and just increased the incline by 1% every 500m up to 10% and tapered back down in bigger incline decrements.

Any tips on specific stuff I can do to improve going upwards and downwards is appreciated as well as guidance on specific gym stuff I can do.



simple answer - go to where the hills are and run on them. From London you can access some hillier areas like Chilterns, North and South Downs quite easily. All have challenging run events (up to 100 milers) as well if you want to enter


The greatest challenge will likely be the terrain rather than fitness - depends on the level you’re starting at obviously. Running on pavements or treadmills will not prepare you for mountain terrain. Getting as much outside rough terrain running as you can locally will help as well as balance and ankle strengthening exercises.


Yep, get the train out to the hills…run the hills and then run back on fatigued legs…

There are plenty of steps in london…go and run them…


I’ve done plenty of mountain running. I’ve completed 100 milers (including the SDW), attempted and been timed out on the Dragon’s Back 3 times and I’m just back from 3 weeks in Patagonia.

I have tons of mountain experience but just want to improve and adjust my weekly training to do this. I could head out from London once every other week but the travel becomes friction and time. I will do this but really looking for what I can do when Im not doing that.


Perhaps you should have said that in your OP as you come across as a newbie on that.

I still think you’re best just running on the hills and doing stuff like hill reps, steep inclines and declines etc. Maybe chuck a few very muddy runs in there as well to fatigue the legs quicker


Run down some hills. Nothing in the gym can replicate the eccentric load on your quads from running down a hill


Yes, a bit of Socratic irony there lol


A treadmill is a waste of time for training off road

downhill running on a treadmill? Killed me for ages when I did a 10km like that


bloke in my old tri club who did fell running used to run up and down the stairs at a local South London tower block. he did a BG Round training like that (which he did directly after a 5mile swim in Coniston and a Fred Whitton to warm up) I guess being chased by drug dealers also helped with a bit of speed work.


From the title, I was expecting a TT member to prepare for a life as Rambo.

Should have known it was running related.


Are you looking to properly run the mountains, like the Skyrunner series? That’s a whole different discipline than merely ‘getting stuff done’ and definitely not my skillset.

I tend to agree, I think a stairmaster is actually better if anything.


Have a look in the strength training thread.

It’s not specific and some might say imperfect but I still like 5x5 training; squat, press, row, bench and deadlift. All round goodness and posture.

You can make some of them more specific, explosive deadlift and dropping rather than lowering. Single leg squats, and so on. But I think the standard moves are good enough.

I can’t speak to things like balance work as I think it’s bollocks. Just run off-road.

As always, seek out your weaknesses before deciding on a course of action. You don’t want to commit time and effort to areas that aren’t going to move the needle.

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Nothing beats actual hills, but here are a few things you can do at home or gym:


Some great advice, thanks. From the 3 minute mountain legs, I already do 30 deep lunges after every run but forwards rather than backwards so I’ll switch. I hadn’t thought about single leg step up - I’ll defo add that to my routine. If sky running means things like Crib Goch and scrambling with exposure then yes I do that stuff although it’s more climbing and scenery that I get the buzz from. Crib Goch never stops scaring me. It’s just super rewarding to get to the top of a mountain. There’s a few stair masters at the gym and I have my eye on them. That was really the gist of the post. Today I got on a treadmill and did an hour at an incline between 2-10% at a slow pace I wondered how others might use the incline or prefer a stair master and the type of sessions you’d aim for - slow and steep constant, intervals with faster/steeper etc

I see that Kilian Jornet still does some fast treadmill running, and gradient treadmill running, amongst all his trail running and skimo. If it works for the greats? :wink:

10.5 km Run Activity on March 14, 2024 by Kilian J on Strava

Unfortunately in my humble experience nothing trains for running downhill except for running downhill.

I used to run/hike the stairs in my employer’s tower block in The Hague as prep for Celtman. I always fancied a tower race, but there aren’t any in Aberdeen. Eg The Tower Run Challenge | London Landmarks Skyscraper Challenge


I’ve just finished reading Failure is an Option, I’m not sure that will help you though :rofl:


I would add in hill reps as a weekly session if poss. I get up to the lakes most weeks to go up and down a mountain to strengthen my quads and help me get more efficient on getting up and down as fast as possible. Strength and Conditioning has helped at the gym too.