Unless you always run on a treadmill, you will encounter hills no matter where you run. Learning how to be efficient both up and down hills can make the miles much easier to complete. When running in a race, unless the race is one big hill, you want to focus on how to complete the entire race in the shortest amount of time and not just how fast you can get up the hill.
There are three parts to a hill: the up, the crest, and the down. Here are some tips shared with me by my running friend Mark Brownell from a Runner’s World article:
• The Up: Going too hard up a hill is like sprinting. Your heart rate and breathing will spike, and will make it difficult to recover for the rest of your run. Instead, maintain an even effort (not pace). Your goal should be maintaining and locking in a sustainable effort. Mimic the effort you use on flat terrain. Monitor it by listening to your breathing; if it gets noticeably heavier, ease up.
• When you crest a hill, lengthen your stride a bit and accelerate slightly. Most people slow down when cresting a hill, so resist that urge and increase your turnover.
• The best way to run downhill is to lean forward slightly and take short, quick strides. Try to keep your shoulders just slightly in front of you and your hips under you. If you go too fast, or lengthen your stride too much, your feet can act as brakes and pound your legs. If your breathing slows down then feel free to speed up!
Put this into action by trying this training routine:
After warming up in a flat area, find a short hill you can practice on. Keeping the same effort as your warm-up, run up the hill, lengthen your stride as you crest the hill, then come back down the hill paying attention to your form. Do this 8-10 times, making adjustments as needed to maintain an even effort and improve efficiency.
Remember, it’s just a hill so Get Over it!