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Have you ever wondered how to make Hill running easier?

This is the question that I am going to answer in this episode of the Coaches Corner. The question comes from one of the members in The Conscious Runner Academy private Facebook group. If you haven’t had a chance to join the group, I strongly suggest you do. It’s totally FREE and filled with lots of awesome runners like you! All you have to do is click the link at the top of the site that says Virtual Club and follow the instructions.

Now, before I get into the various techniques for making Hill running easier, I want to disclose a little about my former relationship with hills. Simply put, I didn’t like them. If the full truth be told, it was more than not liking them, I despised them. I would have a mental emotional and physical reaction every time I saw a hill in front of me. My heart would sink, my confidence would drop, negative thoughts would flood in and my legs would begin to feel heavy. All of this just at the sight of a hill. And this is the way I carried on for years. Sometimes even avoiding hills during runs.

Then, one day, many many years ago, I decided I had enough! I realize that thinking and feeling this way was actually making the hill harder to go up than it needed to be and I was much stronger than the way I was thinking and acting. Hills were not my enemy. They were my friends. They were there to help me challenge myself and make me stronger. In an instant, I decided I was no longer going to be a victim of hills. It was like flipping a light switch. From that day on my relationship with hills completely changed. Not only am I able to handle hills without any negativity, I enjoy them. I see every hill as an opportunity to remind myself how STRONG I am!

Here are some techniques I use to make hill running easier:

1. Use a Mantra

The first thing you can do is to use a mantra. A mantra is a phrase that you say to yourself for encouragement. the particular phrase that I recommended to The Conscious Runner Academy member who asked the question about how to make hill running easier was “I love Hills.” I told her to repeat that several times while running up hills. She tried it and it worked! And the best thing about mantras is that you can use them for any aspect of your training–easy runs, long runs, speed work or racing. You can even use them to help you get through more challenging experiences in your life.

2. Run with Proper Form

The next thing you can do is pay attention to your running form. Not only does proper running form leads to more efficient easier running, it allows you to take your focus off the hill and put it on something else.

As you’re running uphill keep the following in mind:

  • Run tall by picturing a string coming through the top of your head, pulling you up
  • Lean forward slightly from your ankles
  • Gaze out at the beauty in front of you, not down
  • Keep your elbows bent and your hands loose (avoid swinging them from side to side). Take short, quick, light steps. Remain present and let your rhythm guide you
  • Keep your head and chest up
  • Keep your shoulders back and down
  • Avoid bending at the waist
  • Focus on lifting your legs up
  • Push off your toes

3. Visualize

The last technique is visualization. Visualization is picturing a performance in your mind either before or while you are doing it. The quote “Everything happens twice, first on the inside, then on the outside,” couldn’t be more true. In fact, studies have been done that show when we visualize a performance (whether we are actually doing it or not, our body responds as though we are. So, while running up the hill visualize yourself doing it with ease and see what a difference it makes with how you feel going up hills. Another technique is to visualize yourself holding onto a rope and pulling yourself up the hill. Lastly, visualize yourself getting stronger and your confidence growing and you becoming more powerful with each step that you take!

So, I hope these techniques help you with how to make hill running easier. Please share them with anyone you think would benefit.

Until next time, run strong, run long and be happy!