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Couch to 5K
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Running up Hills?

Does anyone have any tips they can share on how best to handle going up hills? I had one on my last run which, while not that steep, did go on for a long time. By the top I felt I was more plodding than jogging and was really going slow and breathing hard.

(Just completed week 7 btw)

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I am training for a 14 K run - and am using run/walk intervals of 2minute runs and 1.5 minute walks . However, I also run down all hills and use a 1minute/1minute ratio for going uphill.

For shorter non-stop runs - say 5K, I just ensure my cadence hasn't decreased and shorten my stride.The worst thing you can do going uphill is to slow down your cadence and increase your stride .. Lots of quick small steps will get you to the top. The effort that you use to run uphill should be the same as the effort you put in on the flats -- but your steps smaller and pace slower (Cadence should be faster, or at least remain the same as what you are using on the flat)

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Thanks for the feedback Bazza. Just to be clear, because I am new to the lingo, by 'cadence' you mean the frequency of each stride?

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Yes -- the Beats per Minute (BPM) of your feet.

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Small steps, but try not to slow down how quickly your legs are moving (steps per minute/cadence) as Bazza says.

Hills are great for the stamina, but long hills can be a real grind and steep ones can seem impossible. I don't get much choice but to incorporate hills into my runs every single time unless I go for a 20 minute drive at the crack of dawn at a weekend and go down to the sea front, so this is what I've learnt to do:

Try visually breaking them down into smaller chunks - aim for the next lamp post or tree or something. Where I run, the roads are really very quiet and I can hear a vehicle coming long before I see it, so I zigzag across the road on the really steep bits because that takes away some of the steepness. Not always practical though. Run on the mid/front part of your foot, not your heel especially on very steep bits. Don't worry about the fact that you might seem to be grinding to a halt, just keep going and don't get paranoid about what it does to your pace if you're using a tracking app. Enjoy the sensation of stretching your legs out again to run more freely when you get to the top, and congratulate yourself on your achievement every time you make it to the top. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have managed to run all the way up a long hill 7 weeks ago.

By the way, be very careful going down - you're much more likely to get injured slapping your foot down really hard and jarring your joints when you're going downhill than up.

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Thanks runningnearbeirut. You are very right that I would not have got anywhere near what I am doing 7 weeks ago. I will try to reduce the stride length but keep to the frequency already established on the flats and set mental targets for the path ahead. I think when the pressure is on and the lungs are bursting that's when the mental challenge is most difficult. At the moment, when I reach the top, I am enjoying the ability of getting my breath back while still running!

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firstly..well done on your progress...Now, I am no pro at any of this running malarky but I have picked up a few tips on my travels...you may or may not find them useful!

1. Lean forward and use your arms to power you ( socket to pocket)

2. Focus on something a few feet away, aim for it, get to it, and then focus on the next thing...and again etc till you reach the top ( I avoid looking at the top as it makes me think I won't make it!!!!)

3. I have called this month ' Dune June' because I am actively seeking hills to run up as they are such good training...

4. Get into a rythm with your breathing and look forward to a treat at the top ( ? sweet, swig of energy drink, or just the rest for going downhill!!)

Good luck!!!

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Thanks for the advice and encouragement juicyju. I am signed up for a 6km town run at the end of this month and I know that there is a serious hilly bit in it. The challenge I've set myself is not to walk any part so I am really going to have to get the breathing deep both and during that section and take it slow....

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juicyju, are you really running up dunes? I have tried this on the South Devon coast and up on Scottish islands. It is incredibly difficult. The heat reflects back, the sand gives way and you slide back, and, the sand gets between your toes and boy does it ruB the skin off quickly!

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Oh know about small steps etc, but I have a psychological problem with hills. I seriously am a flatlander. Should move to Holland but I am determined to conquer my hill-issues - someday - soon. Somebody told me that hills are great cause they make the flats seems so much easier lol

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I spent my early runs wishing I lived somewhere flat so I can empathise with that. :-)

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I would reiterate all of the above I was a hill walker before a runner and it was the same principle small steps and something to aim for, the next boulder, tree, bend in the track. Like RNB says about reaching the top I got to like the sensation when your legs suddenly feel they can move easier again, same feeling with walking and running for me. Rhythm and breathing are also important as said above. I'm also a believer in positive self talk so if you tell yourself you can you can

For my part I have had an element of hills from the start and I do find my ability to run them has changed, although I do find myself slowing down as I go up. Now that I have a way to measure each kilometre I now know that on yesterdays run the uphill Km was roughly 1 minute 20 seconds longer than the downhill.

JJ's comment about the treat at the top reminded me of a story from a 3 peaks charity hike. I was trying to encourage a novice walker to keep going with all the above being shared. I also gave him an energy bar which must have contained rocket fuel shortly afterwards he was off into the distance and I did not see him again until the summit.

So keep up the good work and let us know how you get on.

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Hi - do let me know where I can get some of that rocket fuel! As I posted to JJ, I have the town run to conquer which happens directly after end of week 9 so it sounds like good stuff to me :). Seriously, thanks for the advice. I will try to find a couple of more hilly bits as I go through week 8 to put it to the test and see what happens.

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Loads of great advice, not a lot that can be added except perhaps some good deep belly breathing before getting to the hill. I used to avoid them when I first started running but there does come a time when you have to tackle them head on. I shorten my stride and strike with a front of foot, pumping your arms really does help to. What satisfaction you will get on reaching the top and remember if you don't manage to run up it all the first time there is no shame and always another day. What fun you will have going down too :)

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Oldgirl I can really associate with what you say! I can remember the first 20min run in week six and thinking 'Oh heck I am not going to be able to avoid the hills now'. Thanks for the advice....

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Thank you for asking for the advice and thank you for all the replies - I, too, have an attitude problem as far as hills are concerned, so I shall take all this on board and sort it out! X

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I had a small 'hilly' bit in the middle of my run yesterday, a brief downhill followed by a brief uphill, wished I was cycling so I could use the down bit to help with the upbit - not the safe effect when 'running'. I say running but starting week 5 was moving in a sort of running way might be a better description, esp when conquering anything other than flat!!

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Lots of great advice Another tip I was given was to think of 2 parallel ropes running from top to bottom of the hill and use your hands /arms to pull yourself up the hill. Sounds silly but works for me especially on steep hills.

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That sounds like a good idea. I'll give it a go and let you know how I get on. Thanks

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Hi there - I also find hills very tough. I think you are doing the right thing - go only as fast as you can without overdoing it, even if it means going very slowly. If find it helps if I go up a hill that has a 'downhill' to recover afterwards. I have just this morning done the Guardian Advanced running podcast (suitable if you are a graduate) - the 4th one in the set is a hill practice podcast - 30 seconds running up a hill and then turn around and 45 seconds back down to recover - repeated several times. It seemed quite manageable and I am hoping it will help me improve on hills. Here is the link -http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/audio/2013/aug/05/guardian-guide-to-running-podcast-advanced-run-4. Good luck!

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I agree with all the above and would add that thinking about anything BUT the hill helps. Your body does get used to it, and when you come to run on the flat it's amazing how much time you seem to knock off compared to usual (with hills).

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Try mapping a route of about 800m-1000m in distance with a few steep ups and downs included and use this as a hill work routine. You will find that repeating the same ups 3 or 4 times will really build up your strength and stamina, then you can tackle much longer hills with more confidence. I have a favourite loop in my forest tracks which are not that long but very steep, 3 laps and 1K run in and then home gives me a really excellent work out and much more fun than just running 5K all the time. Variety in my running helps keep me motivated (that is when I'm able to run which just now is not the case) :(

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if it gets so tough that I sense that I could walk faster -- I DO!!!! :)

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You know what? Something amusing happened on my run today... I'd just switched from running with my iPod to running with my Android phone (so that I can use Runkeeper for the first time) and I'd got to part where I was about to head uphill when Laura deserted me! I spent nearly all of the hilly bit cursing the phone, wondering why the podcast stopped playing and trying to get it going again.

I REALLY DIDN'T NOTICE HOW DIFFICULT THE HILL WAS !!!

Turns out the podcast was only partly downloaded but the silver lining was definitely worth it. So it would seem that tackling the hills is mostly a mental challenge for me.

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Congrats on running. The simple answer is to take smaller steps. Shortening your stride does make a huge difference when you find slopes suddenly become hills.

A trick that experienced trail and fell runners use when it gets steep is to walk!

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Im not at all sure if this works but my sister assures looking down rather then up is a huge help. I did feel it helped me but I am such a slow runner anything helps me !

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Do it like the Romans do, zig zag up the hill, walk up the hill slightly quicker or even jog up back wards to stop those aches and pains in your back and the same going down zig zag as your still moving... maybe not in distance however if you are using some techie gadget that records your pace and distance it all counts...

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Thanks getalife. I might try going backwards for a bit just to see how it feels...

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