Archive of Blogs
Updated on July 8, 2012
For any Vancouverite runner, hills, like rain, are a part of life. They don't have to be a bad part either. They can make you much fitter by giving you a sport specific strength workout and a big boost of cardio in one effective workout... with far less impact since the ground literally comes up to meet you. Plus they are everywhere here so learn to love em.
The way to motor up a hill is to keep your effort consistent, not your pace. If you try to maintain your pace, you are sure to either fail, go being your lactate threshold, or perhaps both. Keep your footsteps small, quick and light. Drive your knees straight ahead, stay tall with your chest open and look slightly ahead. People tend to slump over, look at their feet and over stride - which robs them of precious air and biomechanical advantage. Keep your breathing relaxed and controlled and try to focus inward. Forget the top, live in the now, you will probably realize that you're not that uncomfortable!
And of course, what comes up must come down. Keep your turnover high, stay tall in the body but maintain soft and flexed hips and knees. Your feet should still be behind you and feel they are moving in circles like on a bicycle. If I want to run really fast down a hill I focus on kicking my heels up out back a bit and leaning into it. Do not over lean though or you will come off balance and over brake. Best to think like water rolling down a hill. Disperse the impact - do not fight! You should be relaxed and flowing. The good thing about downhills is they give you a good opportunity to recover if you take it. So relax and let the air in.
And as always, practice makes perfect. Train on all manners of hills. Just make sure you are uninjured to begin with as downhill running comes with it's fair share of impact if not done right. Although there is no shame in walking the downs, as weird as that might look.
Happy hill training!