You may dread running uphill, but look at it this way: Since uphills increase your heart rate and engage different muscles than running on flats, they give you a quick boost of improved fitness and make you a stronger human being overall. Plus, the nature of an uphill slope forces your pace to slow, which can actually feel like a break, in a twisted sort of way. And running uphill is also easier on your joints than running on flats or downhill—there’s less impact force.
See? Running uphill has all sorts of positive qualities! Still, here are some tips to help them feel less daunting.
Keep Steps Short
Shorten your stride but try to keep your cadence—the amount of steps you take per minute—the same as when running flats. Shorter steps at a quick cadence is the most efficient way to run uphill.
Focus on keeping your body tall and upright, instead of leaning over at the hips. Aim for keeping your torso and upper body in-line with your pelvis. To help maintain this position, avoid staring down at your feet or even the ground directly in front of you. Rather, look slightly ahead. It’s easy to hunch over when looking down.
Too much forward lean makes it hard to breathe. It also makes it difficult to engage muscles like hip flexors and glutes needed to lift your legs and move uphill smoothly.
Use Those Arms
Driving your arms adds to your forward momentum, so focus on a quick, purposeful arm-swing to help carry you up that hill.
Control Your Breathing
It’s true that breathing becomes more labored on uphills due to their challenging nature. To not let the shortness of breath overtake you, embrace it. Take shorter breaths, while aiming to breathe in through your nose and out your mouth.