Tips to Run Hills

By: Brian Elder

Hills... 

Nobody enjoys running hills because hills hurt (Overcoming gravity surprisingly proves to be difficult)!They are tough and do nothing but slow down our pace.

While it hurts to run hills, the benefits of hill training are irreplaceable. Hills build strength and stamina for runners to make the difference in the middle of a race as you begin to hit a wall or approach a difficult section of the course. Hill training gives you the ability to hold your pace and make moves to pass runners in an area where others slow down or walk.

If you want to move up in your age division. Run hills!

One of the things that has helped me most as a runner is learning how to run hills. Many people still have the question: "How do I run hills?" Below I've listed some tips on how to run hills more efficiently with greater ease so that you can push through in your upcoming runs and races. 

Tips:

  1. Watch your posture. Do not make a common mistake. Some runners make the mistake of leaning too far forward when they run hills. Your body will already naturally lean forward slightly when running hills so you do not want to lean forward too much. This isn't beneficial as it decreases the capacity of air that your lungs can hold. 
  2. Stand tall. If you lean too far forward it also affects your legs. It takes away the ability of your knees to swing upward to generate forward momentum to carry you up the hill. Stand tall and keep your chest straight to allow your legs to drive forward and move you up a hill. 
  3. Control your breathing. When we aren't used to running hills, our breathing becomes heavy. We exert more effort and this causes our breathing rate to increase. Do your best to focus on breathing at a steady rate by taking deeper, more efficient breaths. 
  4. Keep your head up. Once again, the oxygen your body is able to take in affects how quickly your muscles can perform over time. A runner once told me at the end of a race when I was exhausted and my form had gone south to "keep your head up. If you point your head where you want to run it will take you there." It works. Keep your head up and focus about 25 meters ahead where you want to go. 
  5. Use your arms. We often think that fast runners only move their legs faster. The truth is they also have to move their arms faster. Using your arms while running up hills can help generate power and take some strain off the increased effort of your legs. When swinging you arms back, bring them back slightly further as you run up a hill to generate more forward momentum. 

Want tips on how to run downhill? Stay tuned!


Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.