Running uphill never gets any easier, you just get faster, but if you want the thrills of hurtling down some single track then you have to climb mountains (or molehills) some times.
We at TrainAsONE love running and racing uphills and at the Lyon Urban Trail races it was the Mountain and Fell racers, Nats White and Sarah Tunstall, who excelled and won their events. The stairs in Lyon were a bit different to what everyone was used to but strength and speed were important to get to the top first.
“make sure you keep upright, drive through your arms and don’t over reach your stride”
Your form is very important and Nats says “make sure you keep upright, drive through your arms and don’t over reach your stride”. You can work on this in hill reps or every time you get to a hill, especially at the end of a long run.
Sarah again emphasises the importance of the arms, “keep the arms pumping as they will drive your legs when you’re fatiguing”. There is more of a correlation between arm and leg movement than most expect.
“Keep the arms pumping as they will drive your legs when you’re fatiguing”
The steeper the hill gets the more likely it may be more efficient to power hike up there so don’t be afraid to try walking to see if it makes things easier. It depends on the runner and some will run all the way to the top and others will actually hike up quicker. When an event gets longer then the efficiency of hiking becomes more important.
Get on all sorts of hills and work your way up them. Races have hills in all shapes and sizes so it is important to practice on a variety of terrains and gradients. Shorter hill reps will help with power and speed, whilst longer ones will raise lactate threshold and efficiency.
“Try to look 10m ahead, as this will keep your hips in the right position for uphill and help push you up the hill”
Ben Riddell, coach for RunSmarter, and someone who has moved to the French Alps to work on his mountain running says “to try to look 10m ahead, as this will keep your hips in the right position for uphill and help push you up the hill”.
Lastly, you have to learn to love the hills. Find a reason to love every hill and never have to work up one in your life. You don’t have to love the act itself, but the downhill to come, the view at the top or the satisfaction of another summit conquered.
If you’re an ultra runner just see it as an uphill picnic. Find a reason to enjoy them and it all becomes a little bit easier.