“Hill training,” the words just make me hurt thinking about it. I thought it would be appropriate to write about hill training since I am spending a week in the mountains and my team will be running hills this weekend as well.
Hills hurt; there is just no way around it. They add an entire new dimension to your training. Running up hill recruits new muscle fibers that help you build strength and endurance for when you are back on flat land. Running downhill helps with muscle memory for when you are sprinting on flat land.
When running uphill one of the most common mistakes is lengthening of stride. I think it is the mentality of fewer steps to the top. Your stride should actually shorten just a bit. It takes less energy to take smaller steps to get up the hill.
An absolute must, is to use your arms. Do not leave your arms limp hanging beside you. I see all the time when someone gets tired the first thing they do is drop the arms. Keep your arms strong (but relaxed) in the running position and swing them. I had one coach tell me before; “Imagine you are milking a cow.” I like to imagine pulling myself up a mountain with a rope. Just keep the arms swinging.
Stay upright. I know this sounds silly, but you would be surprised how many people lean too far forward when running uphill. Make sure you are upright with just a slight lean forward. Too far forward you are putting pressure on your lower back and wasting lots of precious energy.
One training technique Janice and I do with our team when hill training is have the participants go up the hill backwards (watching for cars of course). Going up backwards not only gives the glutes a break but it is excellent for strengthening the quadriceps.
Here are a few pictures of my run in North Carolina. This sure beats running the overpasses in Orlando.
Here is an excellent video by running Sweden that shows great hill running technique. And how I wish I was getting to run in New Zealand with them.
And this is for my Team, Happy “Heel” Traning