As runners, we all dread running up a hill or slope, or even short inclines along our running routes just because of one particular reason - it is difficult and stressful to do so.
Every rare chance or opportunity you decide to tackle that hill, you feel breathless going up, and then question yourself why did you even do it in the first place, when you could have taken it easy.
However, there are no shortcuts to places worth going to (e.g, that elusive marathon PB!), and recent studies from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning has shown that runners that performed high-intensity intervals at an incline showed an increase in running economy!
Here are the ways you can get better going up that hill you've been trying to avoid every session!
1. Leaning forward and learning to relax
Ever taken a look at some of the best ultra-runners in the world like Killian Jornet & Sage Canaday, and wondering why they are always having a slight lean going uphill? This is because it allows them to use their power centers in their butt and hip - which also means that it is also better to have good core strength!
Find out how you can build your core strength here!
From our perspective, it is much better for you to relax your muscles, and let the momemtum from every step you take carry yourself up. Instead of being on the move at all times, take a breather every now and then you find that a leg is not actively engaged, so that you use less energy, and thus being efficient.
2. Reducing your stride length and taking small baby steps going up
We all think that by increasing your stride length, you cover great distance and therefore utilizing lesser energy to go up that hill. However, it is not true. By doing so, you are increasing your lactate levels in your blood faster, which means that it would take you longer to recover from that effort.
By reducing stride length while running uphill, you not only save energy by taking it slow and steady, but you also maintain muscle resiliency to allow you to tackle that next uphill - be it in training or a race.
Take small baby steps when needed on steep and long hills - even reducing to a WALK if needed. This saves precious energy for the easier segments of your run/race so that it will not feel like you are pushing yourself to the maximum.
3. Monitoring effort by breathing rate
To reap the benefits of running uphill, it is much better to try to maintain the same breathing pattern as you have when running easy on a flat surface. Your pace may slow to a crawl, but the loss of time can be made up when you have the energy to increase the pace on a level surface - which from our own experience, feels much easier after we know we have done some hard work up the hill!
Running uphill is something that cannot be avoided, especially in races in Singapore, where we have organizers looking to put in an element of 'fun' in race routes by inserting a segment of slopes for all competitors. We all have heard of the 'Bridge of Death' in the annual Standard Chartered Marathon - where a torturous slope in the form of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge awaits you at the 38KM marker. Or even the exciting Marina Barrage Loop near the end in the Great Eastern Women's Run.
Sometimes, it is better to make your enemy your best friend, and come race day, you'll be prepared for anything - because what goes up will eventually go down (the confidence boosting downslope!), and who knows? Your long awaited PB might be in the midst.
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