Any runner knows how the mind can distort a climb; a small hill can grow into Ben Nevis while Ben Nevis can warp into Everest. Standing at the bottom of any climb, looking up at the ascent ahead, can be daunting. However, it does not need to be. In the second of this two-part series on conquering the mountains, Charlie Sproson, founder of Mountain Run, gives us his top tips for mastering the climbs. Over to you again Charlie…
1. Shorten your Stride:
Running uphill is physically gruelling and with the wrong technique can deplete crucial energy stores and quickly exhaust the body. An efficient running style is important at every stage of an endurance race but none more so than when attempting a climb. To save energy, shorten your stride length but keep your cadence roughly the same as you would on the flat (165-185 BPM depending on your leg length. The taller you are the faster your BPM). Work with the slant of the hill and alter your foot strike to a more mid to forefoot position as this helps the body to rebound from the ground more easily.
2. Use your Upper Body:
Running is not just about leg strength and endurance, it is a whole body exercise. And this is particularly important when running uphill. Driving with the upper body can help take some of the work away from the lower limbs to propel you up a climb more efficiently. Make sure you move the arms in a linear fashion (arms remain in line with shoulder) as bringing them across the body is not only ineffective but also puts undue load onto the shoulders and lower back. Be careful not to lean into the hill as this makes it harder to drive the knee up during the swing phase of gait and stops you ‘toeing-off’ during the drive phase, reducing running efficiency. Instead keep your body nice and upright so your eyes can scan the ground 3-7m in front of you.
A common mistake for inexperienced hill climbers is to tense the body, actively contracting muscles to grind their way up the ascent. Tight, rigid, and strained muscles, however, drain energy away from the body at a time when it needs all the energy it can get. Instead, actively relax and enjoy the challenges the mountains have to offer.
To find out more about Mountain Runs bespoke running courses please visit: www.mountainrun.co.uk
To discover more about the Lake Sky trail races please visit: www.lakedistrictskytrails.com
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