Posted by: Katie Coakley
Prepare for the thrill of the hills with these training tips
by Nancy Hobbs, executive director, American Trail Running Association and coauthor “The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running”
With nearly 2300 feet of elevation gain dispersed over four major climbs, the Casio Pro Tek 10K Spring Run Off at the 2019 GoPro Mountain Games is certainly a trail race with some hilly terrain. Not to mention the Pepi’s Face-Off hill climb, which has quickly become of the Mountain Games’ toughest events.
To get ready for the hills, consider some pre-race preparation. The first and best advice for runners is always to refrain from adding something new to race day. This includes the obvious (like nutrition, footwear and hydration products), but doesn’t stop there. Race day is not the time to run your first hill and have an OMG moment – and not in a good way. Study the course map and be prepared for the elevation changes by training on terrain similar to that you will experience in the race.
small tips to go big
To excel at hills, take smaller steps with a higher turnover rate (cadence). This will make the effort more efficient and less taxing as you try to maintain a steady pace. Also, consider foot plant. Land more midfoot and push off to power through each step. Running on your toes will cause calves to tighten up quickly, even if you think it makes your foot plant feel lighter. Lean a bit more forward and use your arms to help with balance and forward momentum. Continue to breathe at a steady rate: Slow down if you’re breathing too rapidly or you find yourself gasping for breath. If you are relegated to a power walk, consider placing your hands on your quads to increase the uphill push.
Run with your brain
Even if you have the physical elements dialed in, the mental part of hill training is equally important. Hills can be daunting, threatening and overwhelming. Have a positive mental attitude. Instead of thinking of hills as obstacles, think of them as an opportunity to be king or queen of the summit. Plus, once you get to the top, there is a rewarding downhill on the other side. And, when the going gets tough, break into a smile. This little structural change will actually relax you mentally, physically and create happiness during your run.
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