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Running Hills you either love them or hate them!

We found the following article on the Running4women website and thought it would make a good read for the RTB Community. So if you live somewhere where running hills is unavoidable this contains some great tips.

Running Training: Hills - You Either Love Them or Hate Them!

Its time to ask yourself a question, are you the type of runner whose heart sinks at the thought of ‘that’ hill in the middle of your training run or who avoids hills and always heads for the canal tow path OR are you inspired by the challenge but would like to feel stronger? Even if much of your running is completed on the treadmill, have you dared to push that gradient button yet?!

Well this week we want to talk about hills and why you should learn to love them. We want to explain a few facts and definitely dispel a few myths.

We recently presented a training day and were chatting about the benefits of running in a hilly area. A lady in the audience said there were no hills in her city but later admitted to living in Sheffield. Everybody laughed and she put her hands up to being busted! Yes she had honestly run around the same flat routes in the City and on the treadmill for 3 years pretending the hills were not there! “They cause injuries and hurt,” she pleaded.

Well, to be honest, she has a point. We certainly have to work harder to beat gravity and run uphill and my knees hurt if I don’t run down gracefully. But the real point is that she had missed out on using nature’s best vehicle for getting stronger. If you live in a City like Sheffield then you are blessed with so much opportunity to become a stronger runner and see those target times come tumbling down.

So here are a few tips on how to include hills into your runs and keep it safe:

Going Up...

  • You don’t have to work harder to run or walk/run up a hill. Keep the effort level the same or only allow it to slightly increase. Remain in control and focus on relaxing and breathing. You are the boss, not the slope.

  • As the hill steepens lean slightly forward (but don’t slump) and make sure you are driving your arms. It’s your arms that create leg speed and momentum.

  • If the hill is getting steeper cut your stride slightly and remain tall. Try not to sink into the hill.

  • Always look well ahead and focus on good posture. Looking at your feet only makes it harder.

  • Relax those shoulders and think about how strong this is making your legs, bums and upper body.

  • If starting to breath too heavily reduce your speed and effort. There is no embarrassment ever in briskly walking for a short while until able to run controlled again.

  • Don’t stop at the top. Real fitness is gained from running up and over the hill. So push on and as you level off or start to descend the heart rate will soon drop.

Coming Down...

  • Now the fun begins …… start smiling and be prepared to let yourself go.

  • Try to land on the front of your foot and don’t dig your heels into the ground, its heel striking and putting the breaks on that causes the knee and leg injuries.

  • Lean forward and keep your shoulders ahead of your feet.

  • Use the arms to balance and feel as though you are falling forwards down the hill.

  • Keep loose and relaxed almost like a rag doll rather than tightening up.

  • The lighter you are on the feet, the quicker you will descend.

  • You earned this moment on the way up so now use gravity as your friend and go for it!

Aside from the obvious fitness gains, if you want a firm bottom ladies then its time to love those hills! Maybe a couple of your runs each week should include the natural bumps and hills. Even that gradient button on the treadmill could achieve the same result. You will soon realise that the hill running strength will make every other run seem easier.......

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