Help with hills

Afternoon all, apologies if this has been asked over and over again but I really need some advice.

I did GNR 2 weeks back and really really struggled with the hills.  All my traninig runs include a big hill as I live on top of one so have no choice but to run up at least a mile hill to get home.  However I'm still really struggling, as soon as I hit a hill my legs go heavy and I lose control of my breathing.

So does anyone have any advice for me?  I'm doing Birmingham half in a few weeks and there appears to be a hell of a hill at about 10 miles.

I have a slight mental block when it comes to runs that I want to concentrate on the distance, I'm not a great runner!  Do you think going to the gym and doing some interval and hill runs on the treadmill will help?  I can do this along side other runs so I won't feel I'm missing out on distance runs.

Please help!




  • If you want to get good at hills  - run them. 

    Can you do loops that include your home hill ?  And is it more mental than physical ?

    Its only a hill - take smaller steps and keep on running. There should be a nice downhill to make up for it. 

    I do like speedy intervals on the treadmill. I've never bothered with hill work on them though.



    Hi LambesLady

    "a mile hill to get home" that can be defeating if you must do that for every run especially if the gradient is steep. . It is too much. Maybe you should only run up the hill once (or twice) a week and walk up at other times as a 'cool down' exercise.. Can you not run down the hill and get home from another direction (a loop)?

    Few races will have hills of one mile but many will have several shorter hills. Getting used to shorter hills will improve your confidence. Agree Ucougie about taking smaller steps, lean into the hill slightly and if in doubt slow down a bit. Stay controlled and methodical. Your reward will be on the brow of the hill when you find energy to spare. Many runners' will go at their race pace on the flat and then spoil it all by trying to go faster up a hill thinking the hill will affect their time. Ideally you need to maintain the same pace on the hill.

    Hills have a reputation as 'hidden speed-work' because of the additional effort required by your lungs and legs and the endurance spin-off. Make hills your friends!

    Good luck in Birmingham.


  • Thanks both for some really useful advice.  

    I think some of it must be more of a mental thing than physical and I will keep trying to overcome it.

    Martenkay - Its hard to explain but it doesn't matter what direction I run, there is a hill back to my house, a lovely down hill on the way out image   I do wonder if I'm trying to go to fast in a way compensating because it is a hill.  I will try and slow down.  

    I will keep plodding on!

  • Try to maintain even effort throughout your runs. This means slowing down going uphill and speeding up going downhill. If you try to maintain you 'normal' running pace then obviously you find it hard.

    Slow down.
  • I found I had to shorten my stride length massively (at least 50%) to get up hills (where I live the average 10K run has about 4-500m of ascent in it) - it feels weird but short steps at 180 cadence meant i could get up them much easier - times not that much slower as well for the same effort.  It made the small hills in the GNR no trouble this year, compared to last where I had a much longer stride.

  • Some good advice given already.  I'll add one thing that's worked for me recently... and it's an accidental find.  

    I've started going to the gym, and a favourite activity is the rowing machine - to get the work out, a bit of cross training, and good cardio.  I've been doing a fairly hard 5000m programme.... that takes me about 24 minutes.  There's a figure (who knows how accurate?) of calories/hr.... and I try to keep the figure above 750 for the first 4000m  then above 900 for the rest.  This takes a lot of perserverence as I stare at these figures in front of me.

    I've found now that when going up a long steep hill (part of one of my favourite runs), I've fallen into this mental routine, imagining myself perservering on that machine... and it just keeps me going.

    Maybe the improved leg strength of using the gym helps, but it does feel like a mental thing.

  • What helped me was squats (slow down fast and controlled up, 4 sets of 15), and box jumps (4 times 1 minute as fast and high as you can) - mix it up with running.  Because there aren't any steep hills around my area those workouts work for me - hills are where I like to pass people in races image

  • I do intervals on the treadmill, and also the random hill programme for 45-50 minutes at a level where the maximum incline is about 6 or 7%. That's helped me. Like RunWales does, I focus on slogging up an incline on the treadmill when I'm struggling up a hill on the road, and it does help to keep me going.

  • I've got a couple of hills on my run. I pretty much do what Martenkay has said, shorter steps and lean into it a bit. Also use your arms, swing them a little bit more on the hill for added momentum. And it's a case of leaning into the hill, not bending your back.

    One additional tip that I could give as well and it always works for me (I always focus quite heavily on me breathing) is that I count my breathing patterns. I literally go for a 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4- pattern. Thats in 1-2, out 3-4. For me focusing on that helps channel my thoughts on the run and helps me overcome hills. 

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