How do you run uphill?
When you begin trail running, running uphill often seems too hard or even frightening. We often try to run too quickly and explode. How do you improve your uphill technique? With these few invaluable tips, you'll see that it's easier than it seems!
Running uphill: forefoot running
The first tip is to try to use a forefoot strike. This stride in front of the arch of the foot encourages bounce and lightness. Your calves will be worked harder during the first sessions. Remember to warm up well and stretch your legs at the end of your run.
An exercise to improve your uphill technique:
- jump on the spot, alternating your left and right foot
- try forefoot running
- use a bouncier and livelier stride
- then run slowly uphill and recreate these sensations
Don't lean forward too much
To counter the slope, we often tend to lean too far forward when going uphill. Don't bend your chest forward; stand up straight while remaining balanced. By lifting your head, you will also breathe better.
Once you have straightened up, move your center of gravity slightly to the forefeet.
Don't change your speed
The third running tip is not to change your speed. Don't try to lengthen your stride either and then slow down. Each change of pace costs a lot of energy and penalizes your endurance.
At the foot of an ascent, begin to run slowly, concentrating on your technique. Your heart rate should not increase too much. Also remember to breathe correctly. Climb at your own pace.
This steadiness will save you a lot of energy. You will then be able to run more quickly at the end of the ascents or run a series of ascents over a longer distance... Up to running an ultra trail?
Use your whole body to climb
As we said in our article on the definition of trail running, you use your whole body when running. You will soon see that this is even more true when running uphill!
The swinging movement of the arms should pull the whole body upward. The explosiveness of the upper body combined with the bounce of the foot strikes will make you more effective
Use your arms to help you walk quickly uphill
Walking fast uphill is very effective and allows you to save a lot of energy. In steep sections, it is just as fast as running and much less tiring.
Help yourself with your arms by pressing on your legs as you walk. Be sure to place your hands on your knees rather than your thighs.
Should you run or walk fast uphill?
When you begin trail running, you often wonder if you should run or walk uphill. This will depend on:
- your physical condition
- your current fitness level
- your experience
- your uphill technique
- the degree of steepness
Listen to your body and alternate fast walking and running depending on how you feel.
Going trail running on a regular basis will help you better manage your physical exertion uphill. So feel free to include specific uphill sessions in your training plan, just like you would for intervals or endurance. A little vertical kilometer from time to time won't do any harm!
As always, remember to stay well-hydrated to prevent tendinitis and other injuries.
Varying your training sessions also ensures that you stay motivated and continue to enjoy running... even uphill!