Living in super-duper flat Florida, I don’t know much about running hills. When I say “I don’t know much,” I basically mean I know absolutely nothing about it. Every training route I run and almost every race I run has no discernible hill.
Until this race. And, I was petrified of it. Never running hills combined with basically knowing absolutely nothing about it and being faced with two gigantic bridges that I had to run over twice was scary. But, I actually made it up and over them and loved it.
Of course, I’m probably lucky I did this without getting hurt and loving it as much as I did. Why?
In our training for the Iron Girl Half Marathon (which involves the same gigantic bridges), our coach gave us some tips for running uphill and downhill. Surprisingly, I followed all of the uphill running tips without even knowing them. Score!
Tips on running uphill
- Lean into the hill
- Shorten your stride
- Increase your cadence
- Look forward, not up the hill
- Use your arms
But, the downhill tips are a different story.
I wasn’t even worried about the downhill. I just thought I needed to control my speed by leaning backward. I knew you could get injured running downhill, and I just figured it was from going too fast. Turns out, I was wrong.
Tips on running downhill
- Lean forward, getting the body over the hips and ankles
- Use your arms any way necessary (to help have a sense of balance)
- Have a light touch with the foot
- Have a higher cadence
It's just natural for me to lean backward to "brake" myself while running down a hill. This is exactly what I shouldn't be doing (hello, quad injuries waiting to happen). So, I'm retraining myself to lean forward. Instead of fighting momentum, I'm going to give into gravity and let it take me downhill. Seems so wrong, but it's right.
Do you follow these tips when running hills? What works for you? Do you have the urge to "brake" while running downhill?