Tips for Running up Hills Quicker

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Whether you’re looking to improve your hill running or just looking to improve your time in a race with a few hills, these tips will help you with running up hills quicker.

Photo by Jeremy Lapak on Unsplash

Start simple

Take your time to prepare before starting the run. Start by walking for a maximum of two minutes then gain momentum as you go up hill. Do not push yourself too much. Be gentle with yourself if you want to make any progress.

What is your posture?

Running up hills quicker requires a different posture to running on a flat surface or downhill. Try and stay upright and it will keep you balanced.

Leaning forward when running up hill messes with your center of gravity causing you to lose balance. This posture also negatively affects your knees and hips, which reduces your ability to climb the hill. When you lean forward it will also be hard having your knees up.

Keep your knees up

Having your knees up means, your feet are well raised. This helps you have enough force to run an extra mile. In more technical terms, the more the action force at the ankle the more the reaction or say impact to move further and have your knees up.

Watch your strides

Remember that the stride length on flat ground is not the same as running up hill. Here, you need to reduce or shorten your stride length. If you maintain strides of running on flat areas or downhill, you will wear yourself out. Shorter strides give you the energy to push forward and prevent unwanted fatigue.

Move your arms quicker

There is no way you will shorten your strides and have slow arm movements. If you do this, you will be reducing your speed up hill. Quicker arms empower your lower body making it move faster. Watch races for example during Olympics and see the connection between quicker arms and faster speed.

Watch your breathing

Breathing is an essential part of running. If you cannot control it, be sure that you will stop several times, as you make your way uphill. Try as much as you can to have uniform breathing along the way.

When you mix things up by breathing fast and slowly at the same time, you will get tired faster than you realize. Breathing is a natural thing but you have to train your body on how to breath when running up hill, to be efficient.

Always look forward

Since you will not be leaning forward too much, it will be therefore harder for you to focus on the spot you are stepping on. That is why you need to always look forward to see where you are going. This boosts your determination and helps you psychologically process how to handle the miles ahead of you.

Start slow and speed up but be consistent

Do not be overambitious running uphill especially if you are a beginner on this kind of terrain. Consider warming up first before you start to run. Increase your pace to be faster. Ensure consistency when you gain speed up hill.

Be slow

In as much as you start slow and increase your pace, your speed uphill is slower compared to that on flat ground. It is only natural that you will run slowly uphill and it depends on how steep the slope is. If you try running faster, you will get tired and may even fail to reach the top of the hill.

Consider frequent runs up hill

Do not expect to be great at running up hills when you only do it once a month, you need to build frequent hill runs into your training if you want to improve.

Have a running buddy

Running can be interesting when you have someone with you. It makes the challenge more manageable. Company provides encouragement and steers you forward. If not, surround yourself with people who encourage you to run uphill. It will boost your morale always.

Get the gear!

If you’re anything like me then you’ll never miss the opportunity to add some running shoes to your ‘collection’.

For trail running I got these Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail Running Shoes. I’m not sure that they make me any faster on the hills, but having a new pair of shoes always motivates me to get out and do some miles.

I’ve enjoyed some fantastic hilly trail runs in these!

Set achievable goals

If you are a first timer, you cannot afford to be over ambitious. Start out small by running smaller distances uphill. From here, keep increasing the miles gradually. When you set goals that are too challenging, it is possible to give up even before you start. Remember, running relies on your physical strength and surprising your body is not good. Train it to adapt to change slowly.

At the end of the climb

When you go up hill, you have to run downhill. However, before getting back to your starting point there are few things to do at the end of the climb.

– Stop to rest: this is the time to allow your body to relax for the run downhill. Look around and enjoy the view from the top.

– Take those deep breaths: when running your heart beats faster and your body needs more oxygen. Breathe in and out deeply.

– Jog a little: as you enjoy the scenery, jog lightly as a warm up for your way back. You can mix it up with simple exercises such as stretching.

– Drink water: it is essential when running. It helps get rid of thirst which can derail your running experience.

Why do you need tips on running up hills quicker?

There are several things to marvel at when you master the art of running uphill.

– You avoid hurting your body: for example, the wrong posture is terrible for your back, knees, and ankles.
– It reduces fatigue.
– Makes running up hills more enjoyable and fun.
– Saves time if you have a busy schedule.
– Makes your body stronger.
– You get to enjoy the challenging slopes.
– Increases your flexibility making you a flexible runner.
– Makes you competitive in races if you are an athlete.
– Running up hills quicker win the race.

Apart from the tips and techniques on running uphill, it is important to remember the very basic things about running on any kind of ground whether flat or not.

– Invest in great shoes that offer comfort and stability when running.
– Have the right running clothes.
– Carry water but remember to run light.
– Remember to eat energy giving foods before running; an uphill run is more strenuous than a flat ground run.

Running downhill

Now you’ve mastered running up hills quicker, it is also essential that we look at how to run downhill. This will enable you to become a better runner and understand the difference between uphill and downhill running techniques.

Running downhill may seem easy but it has its challenges. For example, you may be tempted to tread slowly and more carefully in fear of the gravity and sliding. However, this is not good for running.

Here are a few pointers to help you run faster downhill:

Watch your forefoot

This is what you should land with. If you use your heel, you are forced to take breaks in between, which slows your movement.

Slightly lean forward

It keeps you going to avoid resisting forward movement. The slope may scare you making the adrenaline in your system to tell you to lean backward. Do not fall into this trap. You are safe leaning forward; it is even safer than leaning backward.

Leaning backward also contributes to fatigue making you miss to enjoy the run. It exerts pressure on your foot making you feel tired to go on.

Adjust your strides

Downhill strides are a little longer than uphill ones due to the gradient and gravity as well. Do not calculate the length of the strides. Your body will naturally extend them.

As with running uphill, focus

Always look ahead and not at your feet. This will steer you forward. It will be exhilarating seeing yourself cover the distance downhill.
Learn to manage gravity by controlling your movement

Running downhill may get you carried away and start running freely. You need to maintain your pace to avoid hurting yourself and getting tired too soon. Be consistent.

Embrace the challenge

Be determined to finish your run downhill. It is what will keep you going until the end.

Always land lightly and not with your full weight

Landing heavily reduces your pace and may even cause you to stop momentarily. It is worse if the ground is wet or slippery. You may even slip and fall. That is why you need to buy high quality shoes with great traction.

Keeps your feet a slow as possible to the ground

It stabilizes your feet by lowering the center of gravity. This keeps you steady on the ground.

Use your arms for balance

When running uphill, your arms are used to fasten your pace. However, with downhill runs they are used for balance. Have them pointing outwards for stability. Have fun by stretching them out at some point if you like, but not throughout the miles.

Benefits of running downhill

There is a lot that your body gains for running down the slope. Just but to mention a few:

– It gives your body the chance to recover from the climb.
– It is easier running down than climbing the slope.
– Running downhill tests how stable you are.
– It is the opportunity to enjoy running; heckle at other runners who are going uphill for example.

There is a tendency to think that running downhill is an easy endeavor. It can be frightening especially on very steep slopes. Besides, you are more likely to hurt yourself downhill than uphill. That is why you need to be extra careful about how you land your foot, your posture and ensure you attain balance.

Bottom line

Running up hills quicker is fun when you have the techniques to ensure you enjoy every moment of it. Going uphill adds flavour to your workout routine. It offers more challenges, which when achieved makes you feel accomplished. With the tips on how to go about uphill running, you are better equipped to handle the steep terrain, be safe and at the same time have fun.

With practice and more trips, you will be comfortable with uphill running. You may even end up training other runners on how to be faster and effective on the climb. Do not forget the downhill tips. They are as important as the uphill ones. A successful uphill run is not complete without a successful downhill run.

When you are bored with treadmills at the gym or running on flat ground, it is time to spice things up. Try running uphill and see how well you go. Start with simple slopes that are manageable and then progress to steeper ones. Be gradual and not overambitious. Otherwise, you will never master how to run faster uphill.

Remember, attitude is everything. If you believe you can run uphill then you can do it. If you think you cannot then you will never even try. It is all in mind. Control how you think and start uphill running. It will be a worthwhile decision. Adhere to the discussed tips for your own safety and you are good to go.

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