In January, I completed the “30 runs in 30 Days Challenge” while logging 33,281 feet of elevation gain. The following are 5 proprioceptive cues I used to keep me mindful whilst ascending on the trail:
1. Fall Up the Hill
There’s a saying that running is a controlled fall. Keeping your center of gravity powering forward is helpful for form and momentum but for hills, visualize your momentum on an upward trajectory and fall up the hill.
2. Pump Your Arms
When I’m climbing strong, I pretend I have marionette-like strings connecting my hands to my toes. When I pump my arms, my feet seem to follow and the faster my arms move the faster my feet move. Try putting your upper body to work on the climbs and really pump your arms.
3. Take Smaller Strides
Shortening your stride length helps keep a consistent cadence as terrain and elevation change on the trail. You not only become more agile but this helps shift the work from your hips flexors to your glutes, which often go under-utilized on climbs and while running in general.
4. Squeeze Your Butt
Really focus on putting your glutes to work on the climbs. Try flexing your glute muscle as your toe-off and lean your pelvis forward. I bet you’ll tap into extra power, and realize it’s been there all along.
5. Ski Slalom Up the Hill
Don’t just charge the hill straight-on all the time on every climb. Search out clean lines and work your way back-and-forth across steep technical climbs. You’ll spread the work out to different stabilizer muscles and your calves won’t be screaming with lactic acid like they usually do.
Do you have any tips to add to this list for climbing stronger on the hills? Let us know in the comments below!