Running can provide you with a sense of freedom, particularly when you’re surrounded by natural beauty. Running on steep trails, however, presents a different kind of challenge. Even for the most experienced climber or runner, there are sure to be some climbs that are too difficult to tackle without changing technique a bit. Uphill trails specifically require practice, skill, and forethought to make informed, practical decisions.
If you end up choosing a pace that’s too snug on steep climbs, cross country way, here are some ways for you to improve:
Learn to Distinguish the Types of Hills
Hills differ in shape and composition. Some of them are great for trail running, while others are too steep to tackle without slowing down and using arm strength.
For hills where you can run, maintain a gentle pace as you use short, dense strides to climb up. Don’t push your energy!
For hills with partially passable terrain and steep angles, you should combine running with climbing. A great way to keep your pace up is to alternate between climbing and running every twenty steps.
Finally, there is a hill you cannot climb—it is too steep. For this kind, the perfect thing to do is just hike. While it may seem uncommon to walk as part of a race, doing so when the climb calls for it will make you use other muscle groups, giving those important running muscles a much-needed break and increasing your endurance for the rest of the run.
Correct Your Foot Position
A common mistake runners tackling steep trails make is putting the weight on their toes. Sure, it feels more powerful, but it will put more strain on your calves in the long run. To avoid getting burned, keep your feet positioned while climbing steep trails. Instead of letting your heels stay firmly on the ground with each step, have them touch the ground briefly with each step you take. This takes practice, but in the end, you will not be using all the force in your calves, allowing you to last longer on uphill trails.
Take Smaller Steps
When running uphill, taking smaller steps not only requires less effort, but also reduces the risk of falling. If you are just starting to find out how to run uphill more efficiently, taking smaller, faster steps may take some getting used to. The better uphill you run as you find your balance and pick up your cadence at a snug pace.
Watch Your Tracks
You can in fact run on a straight road blindfolded and still be fine, but doing it on a trail is actually allowing the ground to meet your face when you trip. Trail running requires focus and attention, so watch the trail for your own safety. Customize sunglasses, hats or running beanies, and secure them before heading down the steep ascent. Look ahead every now and then to see where you’re going and strategize early.
Pay attention to your Center of Gravity
Often, when going uphill, we tend to lean forward to compensate for the slope. However, this position barely restricts breathing. To fix this, avoid bending your chest forward, and try to maintain balance when standing straight. Then shift your center of gravity, the basis of your stability, to your front foot and raise your head as high as you can breathe better.
Utilize Your Whole Body
Walking or running up a hill at a fast pace lets you preserve lots of energy, particularly if you use your whole body to climb, not just your feet. Swing your arms up as you push forward to pull your whole body up. Also, try using your arms to press down on your feet as you go up hills. It relieves stress on the feet as it’s distributed throughout your body.
There are so many scenic trails to tackle, both flat and steep. These tips will help you increase your speed, develop better technique and build stamina so you can run or climb more scenic mountain trails. practice regularly, stay hydratedand have fun in nature!