Hills, hills, hills....:(

I live at the bottom of a valley in rural Shropshire and all of my training is done on hills, it's un-avoidable. On leaving home I have a one mile up-hill warm-up.

But, it's really de-motivating me now. I often have to walk up the hills, my knees are sore and I can't seem to get any quicker. Im finding myself unable to face it.

Can anyone tell me how I can make the most of the hills? Any tips on making them work for me rather than feeling they are against me??

I am a relatively new runner, not very quick (10/11min miles) and am currently training for a half marathon. I do have access to a treadmill (but time to get to it is limited as I have 2 babies at home and limited childcare).

Any encouragement would be greatly appreciated thank you image


  • As part of my training for my first marathon, I went for a 14 miles run with a friend on Saturday which included some hills. I struggled with these especially near the end where I partly walked and partly ran. My friend said the best way to do it is to learn to use the pain and not to be frightened of it or run away from it (pardon the pun!). I was annoyed with myself for walking as for me it was in my mind rather than me being so physically exhausted or injured. It has given me the incentive to push on. When I run up hills I take it fairly steadily and keep saying to myself that "you can do it!" This works for me. It is tough I know - you just need to find a way that works for you.

  • Hi Newmummy,

    I'm also from Shropshire - so I know what you mean about hills.  A brief history about myself may give you some encoragement.  I started running  to do the Ironbridge HM about 4 years ago, I struggled with hills but gradually got further up them.  I completed that half and have gone onto do many more and some marathons - even doing Snowdon this October.  I run regular upto the top of Brown Clee (Highest point in Shropshire) and I find that I struggle with flat routes more than hilly routes.

    One tip is to really slow down  going up,  don't worry about pace just keep trying to get up them.  You will suprise yourself with the pace you can run in your half.

    What part of Shrops you from? Which half are you doing?

  • Mr PuffyMr Puffy ✭✭✭
    Is there a canal or river footpath you can get to?

    I live half way up a long hill, if I've done a long run I plan it to finish at the bottom and walk up. At the beginning I just go slow. If its really killing you and you can't go elsewhere, just walk briskly up and resume your run at the top.

    Perhaps a dedicated short hill session would help too, but watch your knees.
  • We are fairly hilly here too but I have various routes I can take which include different gradients - ie some are nasty hills but some are more like long slopes which are so much easier.  It is demotivating though at times as when I am tired it is just so hard to get up a steep one -it's not as if it is trying to get through a pain barrier so much as trying to dredge up the energy to lift the legs higher!

    Could you drive to somewhere where you can at least start on the flat?

    Or deliberately plan to walk up the hill briskly as a warm up and then start the 'proper' run at the top?


  • Firstly, embrace the hills - they are your friend.  They make you stronger, more confident and more resillient in race situations (its amazing how many people drop back or walk the minute a hill starts to bite in race situations). 

    With regard to knee pain.  Are you taking them too fast?  Do bear in mind that on hill work you have to sacrifice pace for practicality and as a relatively new runner you should concentrate more on building stamina than maintaining pace on hills.  Its also worth thinking about how you run the hills.  Raise your giat - go higher on the forefoot.  Not tiptoe but fairly high.  Keep your chest open by staying fairly straight and looking ahead (or if you can't bear seeing the road ahead, at least looking up somewhere!).  This will open up the space for your lungs to work efficiently.  And use your arms to help power up that incline.  They're as important a part of your hill running as correcting gait and mentally tackling the issues you might have.

    Finally, are you wearing the right shoes?

  • Thank you for your replies. Another hill - I live in Cleobury Mortimer which is just off the Worcs border. Most of my runs are towards Bridgnorth but I did tackle Clee Hill just once and was sick afterwards image I'm training for the Notts Half at end of Sept. I did VLM this year but my training was wrecked by ITB problems - not helped by the hills I suspect!

    I must admit I hadn't really considered driving anywhere to run but this could be an option, Id have to do some research as I can't think of anywhere flattish locally. I am also reassured that walking up the hill is not the end of the world. I guess I'm scared of slowing down/walking - I feel so slow anyway!

    We moved here from Nottingham so it's all a bit of a shock after the flat of the east midlands!
  • crazy diamond - sorry think my earlier response overlapped you then.

    Yes, my shoes are good - I've had gait analysis etc. My knee issues are ITB problems which were probably due to the long runs when marathon training earlier in the year. But, I've never thought to change my style for running up hills so that is great advice as I will definitely think more about that now.

    My marathon was slow, I've really been hoping to get quicker but seem to be going backwards image
  • You need flat areas to do tempo, intervals and speed sessions. While hills wont bugger up your easy or long runs, as long as you listen to CD, it will any stamina, or speed training. You just cannot maintain the paces needed. No one can without injury.In fact your not meant to you always slow down on hills. So you may have to take TR advice fo these sorts of sessions. Its bloody awkward though and I feel for you.



  • Newmummy,

    Not far away then,  I sometimes drive to the Batch and do a long run along the canal, Kidderminster canal wouldn't be too far from you?  Is it possible to run along the river from Bewdley?


  • AH - I'm not too sure. I'm not that familiar with this area, we moved here in October. Guess I just need to find out image
  • cannot answer question, am hypnotised by your avatar. . . . . . . .

  • Hi  newmummy  if its any help i'm from kidderminster, bewdley area can show you a few flatter routes if you wish.

  • Crazy Diamond wrote (see)

    Firstly, embrace the hills - they are your friend.  They make you stronger, more confident and more resillient in race situations (its amazing how many people drop back or walk the minute a hill starts to bite in race situations). 

    This is so true I actually find flat halves a bit strange - hills make me re look at my form and make me relax ,I used to hate hills but now I actually love them - even on my slow easy runs I make sure I work hard on the hills. Also I always make myself stay strong and push hard as I get over the top ,so many people in races get to the top of a tough stretch and relax with the relief ,it gives you confidence on the flat when you know your able to beat any hill. You will improve very quickly if you learn to enjoy the up hill runs and will always know that whatever happens in a race it won't phase you


  • On the subject of hills......

    I moved house 10 days ago and the new house is on the outskirts of my 'NORMAL' midweek runs.  Anyway, last night was my 1st run from the new house and had to design my self a new 4 mile-ish mid week run.  My new neighbour said there is a lovely walk along the stream what takes you upto so and so.  Last night i thought that sounds perfect.........As im running along the stream it forks left and right, my neighbour didnt say anything about this so i juust took the left fork.......

    Fck me i got batterd by brambles, stung by nettles trainers caked in sh1t it was all up hill and i came out in the end in the middle of no where, i thought i would go to the right and it was a fckin dead end!!!! so had to go left and after 10mins or so i got my bearings and headed home.

    The thing is it worked out bang on 4 mile by the time i got in!! image

    Legs are sore today thou and tomorrow will be finding new route again

  • My tip for running up hills:

    1. Short stride with quicker cadence (don't make the mistake of trying to 'bite' big chunks out of the hill in front of you - you' just make it more difficult to propell your body up and over your support leg)

    2. LIFT your feet...that's right lift, not push.

    3. Be as stright as possible - try not to bend at the waist.

    4.pump your arms more and imagine you're pulling on a rope every time each arm comes forward.

    5. Try not to pant - this reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the muscles. Try take longer, deeper breaths.

  • Hills are good! Don't worry will make you faster!
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