Couch to 5K
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How do I deal with hills?

Hi, I've just finished week 1 and was hoping for a little advice. The area I'm jogging in is very very hilly, making some parts of the run quite difficult as it gets very steep. I tried several different routes last week and all had the same problem. The hills are making me slow and much more out of breath (which may be good for my fitness but it makes finishing the jog with a decent amount of distance covered very difficult). Does anyone have any tips that could help? I don't have a gym membership so don't have access to a treadmill :).

6 Replies

Hi, I live 550 metres up a mountain and my route goes along the mountain as much as possible, but it goes up then down then back up again. Highest to lowest points on my route have a difference in height of 200m according to Google Earth, that's over 600 feet not including the little ups and downs along the way (although to be fair, there isn't much of that). Hills are not easy, but I'd definitely say that I'm fitter for doing it!

My tips:

Be very careful going down - you can get injured quite easily.

Use small steps going up - try to keep the same number of steps per minute, although this will be difficult on very steep bits.

If you can, zig-zag up/down steep bits.

If you reach a steep bit and know you will have a walking section in the next minute or so, you can choose to jog up and recover at the top/part way up when you're walking - or (I have been known to do this) go back a bit then turn round and come back so you get to the steep bit when you're walking.

Find somewhere flat to do a run every now and then for a treat - you'll probably need to drive by the sound of it, but are there any canals near you or a flat park or somewhere? You'll get a boost from how much easier it is on the flat. I try to do a flat run once a month - I'd do it more often but it involves a half hour drive to get there.

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I live in West Yorkshire.....the hills.....even a slight one really can tire me out.

Do you have access to a running track you can use? My local council has quite a good one on flat ground. Might be worth a google search!

And I agree with our other friend, small steps going up and really pace youself :-)


Hills are great for getting your cardio and strength training all at once... but I know it's hard to think of them as a blessing when you are just trying to finish.

Go as slowly as you need to, you can improve speed later, get the time in. Zig zags up or down help mitigate the steepness. Also, lean in to a hill... don't bend at the waist, lean your whole body toward the hill... this makes it easier for you to drop your foot below you instead of ahead of you. You want to push, not pull, up a hill (feet should never reach forward). Short strides.

If the hill is really steep, you can try turning your body about 45 degrees and running up sort-of sideways... one of your shoulders will be up hill compared to the other corresponding to an uphill and downhill foot: run by crossing the downhill foot over the toes of the uphill foot, then the uphill foot around the heel of the downhill foot.


Wow caribougirl, your hill technique sounds like conga!!!


it makes much more sense when you're actually doing it... almost intuitive... though it does remind me of learning the "grapevine" step in primary school for folk dancing

but it works, so there's that to be said for it


For my first two weeks I used what I now call my "nursery slop". Hardly a slope at all but of course, as the runs got longer, avoiding the hills was harder. I still have trouble with them now but I'm going to take the advice above too.


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