Trail running is rarely flat. If it is, you’re probably not doing it right. We’re in it for the variety of terrain. If we really wanted to run on the flat we might as well stick to the road.
However, that does mean toughing it out on the hills. Climbing isn’t particularly technical, and more often than not involves just toughing it out, but there are a few quick pointers that should make slogging it out just a little bit less painful.
Try to keep pacing the same, but with a shorter stride length.
Much like using a granny gear when cycling uphill- keeping the cadence up whilst reducing the exertion needed for each step. The easiest way to achieve a quick turn over is to shorten your stride length.
An easy way to watch that you are achieving a sustainable pace is to watch your breathing. If you are increasingly out of breath, slow down. Raising your heart rate too early into a run can
Leaning into the slope will help to keep you up a good form, with a midfoot strike. Be careful not to hunch over though, as you’ll reduce the effective size of your lungs, not to mention overwork your hamstrings and stress your lower back. Looking up towards the summit will also help you maintain the correct posture.
Run with your arms
Pumping your arms will help propel you onwards and help you to keep your pace rate up.
If the going is particularly steep or you are running a long distance overall- walk. There’s no point burning out on your first hill. With a correct power walking style, you can climb some of the steepest gradients not much slower than you would running.
Quads, hip flexors and calves take a beasting when running uphill, so it’s a good idea to incorporate some specific exercises to strengthen them into your routine. Exercises like Lunges, squats and calf raises all help. But…
Practice makes perfect
The only way to really get better at something like this is by doing it. Try incorporating hilly sections into your regular training runs.
If you’re not lucky enough to have any big hills nearby it’s going to have to be all about reps.
Find the biggest hill near to where you live, and practice running up it over and over again. Choosing a run route that is either constantly climbing or descending and attacking the hills will increase stamina, strength and speed over your entire running life.