Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Running Uphill

exhausted runner, exhausted writer, burnt out writer
image from:  http://elmarieporthouse.com/out-of-steam-but-still-writing/exhausted-runner-clipart/

Have you ever watched how some runners "attack" a long, steep hill during a race? They begin their ascent, charging doggedly up the huge incline with all their might -- they huff and they puff the entire time, leaning way forward at their trunks, as though they will get to the summit that much faster.  Well, truth be told, this is not the way to run hills.  Inevitably, the "charging hill runners" peter out way before they reach the top of the hill -- they are the ones who are laboriously walking halfway through their "climb."

So, what are the critical form components to running uphill?

  • Upright posture - Do not lean forward!  Keep your abdominal muscles contracted (as though you were doing a plank).
  • Pump your arms - Your thigh muscles get very tired when going uphill so they need all the help they can get; when you pump your arms, you are using a lot of upper body muscles to assist you in getting up the hill.
  • Stay relaxed & let the hill come to you - Do not attack the hill!  Keep an even rhythm and you will reach the top of the hill way before the "charging hill runners" get there.  It is totally normal to slow down when running uphill -- do not worry about it; you will make up the time on the downhills.
Running uphill is a great way to strengthen your buttocks and thigh muscles.  Once you have logged sufficient and consistent weekly mileage (at least 20 miles per week for three weeks), you can add a hill workout to your weekly or biweekly running schedule.  I will discuss specific hill training workouts in a separate blog post some time soon -- stay tuned...  and, in the meantime, please remember...

You do not get better at running hills by walking them.