Our advice on hills and how to tackle them

Downhill technique

  • Allow your arms to swing out wide for balance
  • Use the momentum of the hill, don’t fight it
  •  Avoid “braking”. Just let the hill take you and go with the flow
  • Allow your stride length to naturally increase
  • Look up and ahead – focus on a spot about five metres in front of you, not the ground under your nose
  • Bring your leg up behind you and allow your knee to bend and heel to lift – so you adopt a fluid cycling action
  • Try to relax and run with confidence
  • Keep your footstrike light and quick
  • To run downhill well, you need a strong core – your deep abdominal muscles need to be working well. If you find running downhill hard, it may be that your core isn’t activating as it should be. Try some pilates or see a personal trainer for some deep core activation exercises

Uphill technique

  • Relax every bit of your body – if you’re grunting and frowning you’ll waste energy. Rather than trying to sprint, keep the pace controlled and steady
  • Walk if you like – power strongly up the hill, with your bum tucked under, using your glutes
  •  Shorten your stride so you’re doing small steps
  • Drop the pace – think about maintaining “effort” rather than “speed”. You need to run up hills efficiently, not fast
  • Lead with your knee, driving it up and forwards
  • Use your arms more strongly, especially if you’re working a hill hard. Drive your elbows backwards swinging from your shoulder and use the momentum to help power you up the hill
  • Don’t look at your feet. Look up toward the top
  • Forget your GPS. Be guided by effort not pace
  • Avoid running excessively on the balls of your feet; it places a strain on your calves. Aim for a light step which may be more “midfoot” than normal, but don’t force it
  • Use the image of a balloon on the top of your head, lifting you and pulling you up the hill
  • Focus. Give it your best attention and concentrate on all the points above
  • Your technique and approach will differ depending on the gradient and length of the hill, so adjust your strategy. Master the tips for tackling hills, and you will run with better form on the flat too.

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