HILL RUNNING FORM | Powered by Hope

Hill training strengthens the legs for running better than any other activity.  At the same time it can help you maximize your stride length, increase leg speed, and improve your ability to run hills in races.

The incline of the hill forces your legs to work harder as you go up.  The extra work up the incline and the faster turnover, builds strength.  By taking an easy walk between the hills and an easy day afterward, the lower leg muscles recover and rebuild, becoming stronger.

Let’s take a look at hill running form:

The resistance of the hill will strengthen the lower legs through repetition.  Bouncing, high push-offs and long striding are counter-productive to hill form.  Many runners aren’t reminded about their form imperfections on the flat, but the extra effort required going up will aggravate form flaws.  Your goal is to find the way of running which is easier, lighter on your feet, and which requires less effort.  By increasing leg and foot turnover, you can often run faster while you run easier.

Run relaxed:  Don’t contract the muscles or strain to keep the right alignment.

Posture upright:  Head is over shoulders, over hips, and all are lined up over the feet as they assume the weight of your body.  Your alignment should be perpendicular to the horizontal and not the incline of the hill.  In this way, you’re most efficiently distributing the weight of your body as it interacts with gravity.

Short stride:  Keep shortening the stride until you feel a slight relaxing of the hamstring muscles (back of thigh).  If your stride is too short, you’ll feel that you’re slowing down due to choppy steps and loss of fluid motion.  Too long a stride is noted by tightness in the hamstring and/or the quadriceps muscle (front of thigh) and significantly more effort required for only a small increase in speed.

Feet low to ground:  The less you have to lift your feet, the more effort you’ll conserve.

Quick turnover:  Those who want to improve speed and strength can gradually increase the cadence or turnover of your legs and feet.

As the hill gets tougher:  Keep reducing stride length, while trying to maintain or increase turnover of the legs and feet.  Remember, stay light on your feet and keep feet low to the ground.

Downhill form:  Maintain an average stride and avoid the temptation to extend your stride.   Continue to stay light on your feet and keep feet low to the ground.  Let gravity pull you down the hill.  Turnover of your feet will pick up.  Try to just glide (or coast) quickly down the hill.

From Jeff Galloway’s Marathon book.