STRONG IDEA: Run for the Hills

By Emily Stapleton on July 22, 2013 from Strong Ideas via

STRONGIDEA: Run for the Hills
I just returned from my family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains, where I spent a little time running some significant hills. Want to read my take on exercising while on vacation? Click here.
If you’re a runner, walker, or cyclist you know the challenge hills can provide (by the way, all you need to do to call yourself one of these types of athletes is to perform one of these types of activities…but more on that another day).  I’m a runner; well some days I might be a walker or a cyclist, but most days I’m a runner; so this post will focus on hill running.  The information also applies to cycling or walking.
Running the hills of the Smoky Mountains gave me plenty of time to think about the benefits of running hills and my own personal hill running strategy.  Keep in mind that this post represents my personal take on hill running.  Not all runners share my strategy.
Hill running provides both strength work and speed work in a single workout.  When working against gravity to climb a hill, your leg and core muscles go into overdrive just as they would when lifting weights.  On the downside of the hill, by speeding up your steps, your body is performing speed work…going faster than your normal pace.  Multi-tasking at it’s best.
Uphill Strategy
1.    Slow everything down to conserve energy
2.    Take small steps
3.    Slow your turnover (or rate of steps)
4.    Lean back slightly
5.    Chant “I think I can, I think I can” over and over in your head
6.    Remember that what goes up must come down.
Downhill Strategy
1.    Speed everything up to conserve energy
2.    Quicken your turnover (or rate of steps)
3.    Lean forward
4.    Let gravity help
5.    Let yourself go, don’t hold back (we call this the noodle run)
A little clarification on energy conservation:  When climbing uphill, slowing everything down will conserve your energy.  I try not to focus on pace and just put one foot in front of the other, I know I’ll make up the lost time on the downhill.  On the down side, speeding up will conserve energy.  If you attempt to hold back, you’ll actually use more energy to go slower and put more impact on your body.  When I relax my body and let go (noodle run), I make up the time I lost on the up…and then some.
In conclusion, all I can say is: try it.  Go find a hill; run slowly up and quickly down.  Let me know how it goes!
Until Next Week,
Emily Stapleton

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