Running hills can seem daunting, and whilst hiking climbs is often a great option, there are a few techniques that can help you get running uphill more efficiently and comfortably. In our Her Trails UTA program, we work on developing hill running skills, strength and mindset. Here are a few key points from Coach Jo – have a play with when you get to the base of your next hill!
Shorten your stride length
Running with a stride length (“gear”) that is too long for the hill effort can cause you to drop your stride frequency (“cadence”) resulting in that grinding feeling and exhaustion. You can help keep your heart-rate and effort level in check by using a shorter stride and higher cadence. You won’t feel like you’re ‘pushing’ up the hill and your aim should be for your effort from bottom to top will remain steady, leaving you able to continue on when the hill ends.
Use your arms
As you run uphill, keep the arms comfortably bent at the elbow to around 90 degrees and relaxed. Drive the point of your elbow backwards with each arm swing. The more intensity you’re running with, the harder the drive. Keep the arms moving quickly to help maintain a quick running cadence for the legs. The longer the hill, the more relaxed this action should be to maintain your energy to the top.
Run tall and look forward
Staying tall encourages you to use your posterior muscle chain to power you uphill. It also helps ensure your chest is open, allowing you to access the full capacity of your lungs. Some helpful cues to encourage good posture are ‘hold your hips high‘ or ‘grow tall through the crown of your head’. Also, remember your head is heavy! Looking at the trail immediately ahead of you will only cause you to drop your head forwards, which encourages a bad stooping posture. If you need to check the upcoming terrain, get your head up and watch the ground 10-15 metres ahead of you. If not, try focusing on the crest of the hill.
Not sure what to do when you reach the top? Look up, enjoy the view and then get ready to run efficiently down hill 🙂