How to Make Running Uphill Easier

Most people would rather run on flat smooth ground or downhill. To many runners, hills are avoided because you go slower, get out of breath easier, and use more energy.   Running up hills is a learned skill, and with a little practice can give any runner the confidence to overcome a hill phobia and make peace with the dreaded incline.  Here are a few tips to help:

Don’t waste energy

If you’re training for a longer race like a half or full marathon, you learn to conserve energy, by taking small steps and swinging your arms in small motions, starting from your sides and bringing your elbows back, say about 30-60 degrees, all the while keeping the shoulders relaxed.

Keep a straight back

It’s very easy to lean forward while going up the hill. However, this will contribute to a very sore lower back later on. So as you are running up that hill, stand up a little straighter.  Create the sensation of falling up a hill by keeping your hips forward rather than letting you butt fall back.

Focus on your breath

Running up a hill, should not put you out of breath. If you are following the two tips above, this should come somewhat naturally, but if it doesn’t, slow down a little.  If you are new to running uphill, focus in your breathing rather than your pace. Try to keep your breathing effort the same as it is you are running on the flat ground.

Create momentum

Keep your cadence high (increase turnover by taking smaller steps).  Don’t try and bound up hills unless you are doing training drills to improve power.

On steeper inclines, concentrate on lifting your knees and pushing off hard with every step.  Maximize leg recovery momentum by driving your knee straight forward and up (parallel with the hill) to create momentum.  This will also snap your heel through quicker allowing the fast cadence.

Reaching the top

As you reach the top of each hill, focus on running all the way over the top until your reach the flat, and pick up your regular running rhythm again. Use the flat or downhill on the other side for recovery.

The more you practice, the easier you will find it. You will find yourself adjusting to hills automatically without any thought or effort.