The majority of runners I train specifically ask for help in running up and downhill.
For any number of reasons, they struggle in an effort to control hills whether it’s in training or races. As part of my Team Over The Top clinics, one-on-one training and group seminar sessions, I incorporate certain hill drills (many of which are done barefoot) to develop safe, efficient, powerful running. My goal is to make sure they can control the hills, maintain pace and carry momentum into he flat sections of a route.
I recommend doing the drills once per week for not more than 50 minutes, mixing in pace, volume and variety to maximize carryover results. Pick a hill that is from 8 to 10 % grade (ideally) and 300 to 600 metres long. It’s even better if you have access to a series of interconnected hills. One of my many hill training circuits is as follows:
- backward running up & down hill (no rest at the top or bottom) to better overload the calves, hamstrings and gluteals whilst encouraging a mid foot strike and reducing knee/quadriceps strain
- alternate forward and backward running up and downhill. Switch every 10 strides quickly and with power to lock in forward strike and driving up and down the hill\
- side to side shuffle up and down hill, switching lead legs every 20 strides. You MUST keep hips facing the direction you are facing with the feet under the shoulders pushing up or down the hill – no hopping and no allowing the feet to touch under your mid line. This locks in your pelvic girdle and helps square you up for more efficient forward running
- side to side crossover shuffle up and down hill. These are done as above except that you cross 1 leg in front of the other for 20 strides and then switch to the other side. This not only helps strengthen your pelvic girdle area but also improves your ability to hold a tight, low position longer whilst running forward.
These are but 4 of at least 24 different drills that I incorporate into my clients’ training programme. Doing the above drills weekly (and, ideally, barefoot) as mentioned earlier with no rest breaks and perfect practice will improve your ability to run hills powerfully, safely and efficiently. Beyond that, you will get stronger on the flat sections of a course and be better able to hold a tight, light, compact, forward running technique. Here’s to NOBODY passing you on an UP nor DOWN hill!!
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