When facing steep hills many runners have a hard time because they struggle upward using longer strides. This is cause for greater fatigue not to mention all the energy lost because the airborne portion of your stride is slowed down due to gravity. Prepare and learn to shift gears both mentally and physically; using proper technique to propel yourself up.
Too many runners go uphill out of control without using their arms and foot drive. Runners can improve racing times dramatically by prevailing over hills using proper techniques. Practice exaggerated knee and arm drive, and drive up the hill but do not use this exaggerated motion in a race unless you are sprinting up a final hill or trying to power away from a competitor on a hill. Maintain the rhythm and form you use on the races for most hills. A few changes are necessary however to compensate for the incline and increased resistance.
Running hills Technique
In daily training, run up hills quickly and practice proper technique. It is easier to run uphill quickly with good form than slowly in poor form.
1. It is faster and uses less energy to shorten the stride and maintain a steady pace as you move up the hill. You will naturally lean into the slope so it is impossible to heel strike up a steep slope. If you have been practicing to strike with the forefoot on flat terrain, then doing now on the hills will not shock your legs and feet as badly. Drive the knee upward and then pull the foot into the ground, maintaining a sharp angle with the hill. The same pertains to running on flat ground, minimize the time you spend in contact with the ground; springing forward is just as important running up hills.
2. Keep a steady stride throughout the climb. Increase your knee lift otherwise the angle of the hill will cut down the length of your stride and you will not be able to get your feet up and out in front of you. Increase your cadence slightly but do not over stride. Tighten your stride by maintaining a normal or slightly shorter stride to keep your center of gravity slightly in front of the drive leg directing your force upward and forward. In a race, maintain normal stride length owing to the added push-off and knee lift.
3. Increase your arm swing slightly by driving the arms a little bit more to overcome the pull of gravity without exaggerating the arm drive. The arms should move as described previously, bending at the elbows with a smooth rhythm that matches the frequency of your stride as uncontrolled, jerky motion slows you down. Do not reach out in front of you; keep your elbows slightly away from your body, hands relaxed.
4. Push off your back foot harder. The faster you wish to run, the harder you push. Drive up the hill by leaning into the hill slightly. This increased lean helps keep your center of gravity forward; lean forward slightly just to maintain an upright position relative to the pull of gravity. The steeper the hill, the greater your lean. Keep your hips slightly forward, chest forward, back straight, chin up, and eyes ahead. If you look down near your feet, your hips will fall back, destroying your erect, efficient posture. Also try focusing your eyes on an object ahead of you and watch it pass and then focus on another object. Psychologically, you can pull yourself uphill with your eyes.
5. Relax. Do not bring up your arms to fight the hill, nor tighten your neck, hands, forearms, shoulders. This tension diverts energy from the real struggle of racing uphill and may cause fatigue and a slower time.
6. Maintain an even, steady rhythm, with minimum loss of energy. Attack the hills with finesse, not muscle, by steadily moving uphill with good form and reasonably controlled breathing.
Steep Or Long hills
- Cut down the length of your stride and increase your stride frequency. Do not over stride; it will lose you power and thus run slower.
- Swing your arms faster, keeping the swing short and controlled, quick beginning at your chest, ending at the top of your hip. Keep it close to your body.
- Since you are going slower, power hard off your back foot. Your efforts will be unrewarded unless you push off your back foot with power.
- Lift your knees that your stride is not too short and choppy. You lose power if you keep your knees low when you try to run up a hill.
- Lean your body forward. Lean from your hips, not from your waist. .
- Stay relaxed. Belly-breathe if you find it impossible to relax while hammering up a steep hill. Also, keep your shoulders, neck, and jaw from tensing up. Let your legs do the power work assisted by your arms. You will recover your breath at the top.
You can use this technique with normal hills for a race when you know you have the power to use it and finish.