I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am terrified of hills. The sight of them makes me quake in my sneakers; the mere mention of them leads me to question my new-found commitment to acquiring as many running T-shirts as possible.
In my extensive (!) experience with 5Ks, I have come across some doozy inclines. The Covered Bridge 5K in Henniker, NH, springs to mind. My approach to these perils is usually to slow to a walk while tendering my best stink-eye. Sadly, the hills usually fail to respond (much to my chagrin, my death stare apparently cannot move mountains). This means I have no choice but to switch my jog to a swift plod and asthmatically ascend as best as I can.
If you thought my face was red on the flats, you should see it on the rises. I may have to contact the Pantone company about creating a new color in my honor: 5K Crimson.
Five tips for running up that hill
(With thanks to Kate Bush.)
1. It’s OK to walk. For some (OK, me) power walking up a hill can be as fast as running. The old pride might take a beating, but for some, you’ll make it to the finish line faster than had you tried to maintain a jogging pace, and there will be energy left over for the downhills. Besides, who’s watching?
2. Run tall. Don’t roll forward: this will decrease your lung volume and cause strain on the lower back and hamstrings. Experts recommend keeping your core muscles tight and your head up. Engaging the glutes will help you power forward. This takes practice. Or so I have heard.
3. Run with your arms. Stronger arm action will help propel the body forward. The arms should be tight to your body and the hands slightly upward on the forward swing. It also might distract from the fact that your akimbo legs make you look like a moose. OK, that’s just me.
4. Shorten your stride. For maximum efficiency, don’t try to maintain the same stride as you would on a flat. A shorter stride will help build a steady rhythm and will ensure the body doesn’t overwork itself. In my case, the body seems to overwork itself no matter what. But that’s some good advice.
5. Practise. This is anathema to someone who fears hills more than compression socks, but it’s the only way to get good. Tackle them as often as possible (hills, not socks) to overcome The Fear.