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Friend-of-the-blog Jared Busen has written a wonderful guide to running hills to share with you all!  It seems like running hills should be much like running everywhere else only more … you know… “up,” but sometimes I feel like I’m crawling up the things.  However, with just a few tweaks

Laura and Jared after a 7 mile run.

to style, you too can be conquering each hill like a boss!  I was the beneficiary of the run he talks about in this article, and had the great fortune to have him check out my stride first hand.   The first few attempts were a different feeling for my legs to get used to, but now, I feel like I often am moving uphill better than I am anywhere else.   Once, early in my running career, I told a friend, “Man, I wish people pre-Columbus were right!” and she asked what I meant and I said, “I wish that they were right about the world being flat- because these hills are killin’ me!”  Now that I think of it though, what fun would flat be?  I’m slowly learning to love the hills.

-Laura Sievert

Love the Hills

by Jared Busen

Recently I was running with a friend for the first time. I don’t mean it was the first time I had a friend to run with, I mean it was the first time I ran with this particular friend. Laura is fairly new to running and currently training for her first half marathon. Like most newbs she didn’t know how to run up hill so the hills were kicking her butt. I worked with her on our run and got her to the point where she wasn’t dreading hills. What follows will be some tips and pointers I’ve learned over the years about how to run up hills.

Hills are an important part of a training program. Hills are both speed work and strength training in disguise. They improve leg and core strength as well as speed and power. They improve your running economy. Plus if you get good at them it’s a great feeling to pass another runner going uphill with ease while they are sucking wind.

Before I get into how to run hills I want to mention the mental aspect of it. If you are a runner you are going to have to run up hills, a lot of up hills. They are in most races, most training runs and about any trail run you do. Hills are a fact of life. The right attitude will make them easier and even enjoyable. You are going to encounter them no matter what, if you bring a good attitude you will be in a much better place to attack the hills.

“Hills are easy”. You may think this is a lie, as I did when I first heard it. However I have come to believe this statement, it’s true. Even if it’s not (which it is) then if you just keep telling yourself and choose to believe it they do in fact become easy. “Hills are easy” is a standard mantra of mine. If I’m doing hill repeats or just running a hilly route I still tell myself this.

“You are a better runner at the top of the hill then you were at the bottom”. Again this is another true statement that I love. How can you not love hills if they make you a better runner!? If you get better every time you run up a hill how can you decide to not get excited and run a hill? This is my default response when someone gets tired on a hill or complains about it. If it’s a really long hill think of how much better you are by the time you get to the top.

Maintain your effort not your pace as you climb the hill. As you improve and get stronger you can start to hold your pace, but to begin with go for maintaining the effort. This ensures you won’t be wiped out at the end and you’ll be able to take advantage of the flat at the top or the downhill on the back side.

Lean into the hill. This lean is generated at your ankles, NOT your hips. Don’t bend at the waist as mechanically it’s horribly inefficient and it constricts your diaphragm making it harder to breathe. You should normally run with a slight lean from the ankles, lean a bit more then you do on the flats. You want your body weight over your toes or just a bit forward. Keep your head up and your body in a straight line.

Run closer to the balls of your feet. Even if you are a heel striker run on your mid-foot to ball. This prevents any breaking while running uphill and keeps you light and quick on your feet. You can only do this (CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE)

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