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Power Up and Down Hills with the Right Pace

Uphill runs are great training sessions for speed training, leg strengthening, VO2max, and heart rate training. Most runners push too hard on the uphill, with the wrong running form, which affect their recovery time once on the up. If runners run above their fast pace on the uphill, it might take more than one minute to recover once at the top, affecting the start of the downhill and the running form as well.

How to Run Uphill?

Running uphill, you must maintain an even effort, similar to fast efforts on flats and sustainable the whole way up, or you risk burning too much energy you can’t regain later on. If you run too fast on climbs, it will cause your breathing and heart rate to spike, similar to sprinting too hard. Include uphill training sessions once or twice/week, depending on your race training goal. These uphill sessions will develop the ability for your body to get used to that strong sustainable pace. Find uphill that take 10 minutes or longer, shorter climbs are great for uphill speedwork training. Simulate the effort you would expand on a flat run, no matter how slow it feels. If it gets too hard, slow down and ease up. On the uphill, running in long strides puts more impact on the legs, knees and wastes a lot of energy. On the up shorten your stride to make the running much easier on the legs, even the heart rate.

Getting to the Top

When pushing too hard on the uphill, runners get to the top with low energy, out of breath, and spiking heart rate, which will create longer recovery issues. If you get to the top feeling ok, you can start on the down feeling fresh. Once you get to the top, maintain your short stride until you feel the recovery. Once you recovered after 30 secs- 1 min. switch to a long natural stride on the downhill.

Running Downhill

Some runners are better on the uphill while other on the downhill. Runners should focus on their weaker run. Downhill training is as important as uphill as it involves a lot of impact and pounding. Running downhill strengthens our glutes and quadriceps, but to save our quads and knees, we knee to focus on engaging the glutes on the downhill so they can support the impact, not the knees or quads, which can create painful knee injuries. If you sprint and push too hard on the up, your legs will be overtired and won’t be able to support the pounding on the downhill. Good running form on the downhill is essential to use gravity to your advantage. On the downhill make sure you don’t heel strike to keep breaking every step, which tightens the hip flexors and increases the impact on the knees. Keep your arms wide and low for balance, relax your hip flexors and engage your glutes. To start training in proper downhill form, you can shorten your stride and focus on quick steps to practice on the natural form, your breathing will get better, heart rate slower and then progress to longer natural stride “Flying Down”

Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!


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