Every runner – from beginner to veteran experiences a feeling of dread when they hear the word “hills”. The trick with hill running is to feel strong and confident; not just about running up them, but coming down them too. Posture is vital for successful hill running. When running uphill, the temptation is to sink into our hips, slump with pain, lean forwards and lengthen the stride, but this is only making life hard for yourself. Running downhill we tend to do the opposite. It’s a bit scary so the body naturally leans backwards, digs the heels in and wants to ‘put the brakes on’. This results in a higher risk of injury as the impact is far greater.
Here are some tips that might help you:
* Aid your ascent by ensuring your posture remains upright.
* Aim to keep your stride length the same as normal (i.e. how you run on the flat with the foot ideally landing underneath the hip and not ahead of you).
* Drive the arms to create force and momentum.
* As your breathing becomes more challenged you want to keep the chest open so it’s important to maintain a correct posture, engage the core muscles and push through the pelvis.
* Imagine someone has a hand on your lower back and is pushing slightly as this will encourage you to engage from the correct muscles.
* Keep looking ahead and not down at your feet.
* Running downhill is about being brave. Avoid digging your heels in to put the brakes on, instead be confident and let gravity do the work.
* Lean slightly forwards.
* Ensure the body is always slightly ahead of your feet.
One last tip – you really need to learn to love hill training! If you mentally embrace the hill and say you love it, you will talk yourself up and over it. It’s far better to think this way than to keep saying ‘this is so hard’ ‘I’m hating this’ ‘I have to walk’. Tell yourself the hill is not going anywhere – you can do it the hard way by grumbling and moaning, or you can conquer it more quickly by staying positive.
*Main image credit: Andrew Thrippleton