Running up and down hills!

Is there a skill to running up and down hills?

I have started doing hill training with my club and I dont think i am running properly!  After Tuesdays session my right leg has felt really awkward and almost like a deadleg!

Any advice?


  • Uphill - shorten your stride and focus on really pumping your arms

    Downhill - relax and let the hill take you.  Don't resist and let your stride rate get faster and faster. 

  • But wat about reeeeealy steep hills? The kind where your legs just don't move that fast!

    I find for the steep off-road hills i have to go sideways to get any amount of grip.

  • I've just started doing some Fell races this year and there seems to be a state of mind aspect to it, it's called "i'm prepared to break my legs!" image

    Seriously though I think it's a confidence thing, like Captain Hook says you've got to let your legs go with it, as long as you've got the right shoes on you should be alright. Just keep your weight slightly forward so you don't end up on your arse!

  • Tom Tom T. Barrow wrote (see)
    But wat about reeeeealy steep hills? The kind where your legs just don't move that fast!

    I wonder if there's a gradient, it might differ for each individual, where walking up becomes more efficient than trying to maintain a running motion. In two races this year I've finished behind runners who've walked for a little way up hills while I've run. We're not talking about the fastest people, naturally, just the average joe.

  • On really, really steep hills you'll see a lot of fell runners walking up the slope - it can be quicker and less demanding, if you get the technique right.

    Or so I'm told.

  • There's my answer lol!
  • Captain Hook - that's called crazy acceleration! I've tried that, it gets a bit hairy when coupled with mud or big stones underfoot, but is definitely exhilarating. Lots of folk seem to hold their arms out wide for balance when going crazy-fast downhill.

    Going uphill hurts though, unless you can develop a technique whereby as well as breathing in through your mouth, you can also breathe in through your arse. I can breathe OUT through it ok, but...

  • "Brakes off, brain off"
  • Sorry Beanie3 can't offer any advice, maybe someone at your club who can watch your style/gait might be able to.

    I've just finished reading "Feet in the Clouds" which is full of tales about runners flying down hill.

  • great advice peeps - thats my problem i try to hold back when i go down hills.....i guess i just need to go for it - whats the worst that can happen - i fall over.......

    great advice about going up hills - i was actually lengthening my strides......!  no wonder i was aching afterwards!

  • Going up hill, try and lean forward slightly as well as shortening your stride, try and keep a consistent pace, for a psychological boost, don't look any further in front of you than a few yards, certainly not at the top of the hill anyway image
  • Good point another psycholgical trick I use is to break the hill down into what seems like less intimidating segments e.g. just concentrate on getting to the next lamp post and then the next one and the next one... before you know it the end will be in sight! image
  • Here's my take - and I'm not a pro.

    During long runs (15 miles plus) on a gradual hill of more than a quarter mile it can help the muscles around the top of your quads and hips area if you do extend the stride for a bit as it stops them (muscles) shortening and becoming tight through repetition. So, not always a case of shorten your stride.

    On short steep hill reps or fast runs, keep your foot alignment the same as on the flat - avoid splaying out side ways like a penguin. This will increase your drive and knee lift. Don't worry about the arm pumping, this will follow suit depending on how hard you have decided to run.

    On long gradual hill reps and fast runs, keep the foot alignment true and try and keep to your natural cadence as per flat surfaces.

    Increasing your cadence on a hill can actually be a good thing depending on the length of the race or the type of terrain. Though, as others have said, some fell runners do walk and I certainly walked big hills in a recent trail marathon in order to save energy.


    First off, a few dip reps (standing on a stair facing down - on one leg - dip so that the free leg just touches the floor at the base of the step and slowly back up * 10 each leg) will help build the muscles needed to let you take the breaks off going down hill.

    Speed down hill is - IMHO - safer as your foot is never planted long enough to worry about a slip. Down hill is about commitment in my book.
  • Interesting thread. For up-hills, I find I'm most efficient if I land on my forefoot much more than I would do on the flat - for anything reasonably steep I'll pretty much run on my toes, with a short stride but often a faster cadence than on the flat.

    This is something which I seem to have developped over time, I never used to tackle hills like that, but now just seems to come naturally.

    I'm not very good at maintaining speed down hill - In races I can take anyone on the up hills, but everyone overtakes me again on the way down. I can't quite get used to the sensation of 'letting go', especially as I'm generally quite accident prone anyway!

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