Today, Coach Sage Canaday shares essential tips for uphill running form that are invaluable for all runners, regardless of whether you’re hitting the trails or pavement. Mastering uphill technique can significantly impact your race performance or training progress, making it crucial to leverage every advantage available.

Tip #1: Lean Forward

First and foremost, you want to adopt a forward lean. However, this lean should originate from your ankles, not your waist. Picture yourself leaning into the hill – you’ll notice that the lean occurs at the ankles.

This positioning shifts your weight more onto the ball of your foot, with the front half taking the brunt of the pressure. Keep your heel off the ground, and focus on being up on your toes as you lean into the hill. But remember, this forward lean shouldn’t cause you to hunch over. Maintain an upright chest and neck, and keep your gaze fixed at least five to ten meters ahead of you. This posture ensures proper alignment and optimal efficiency as you power uphill.

Tip #2: Chin Up!

In addition to maintaining an upright posture and leaning into the hill from your ankles, it’s crucial to keep your chin open to facilitate better breathing. When you’re tackling steep inclines, your body requires more oxygen, and any restriction in airflow can hinder your performance.

To achieve this, imagine elongating the back of your neck and slightly lifting your chin. This position helps keep your airways clear, allowing for easier and more efficient breathing. Avoid tucking your chin into your chest, as this can constrict your throat and limit airflow.

By keeping your chin open, you optimize your oxygen intake, enabling you to sustain your effort and conquer those challenging uphill sections with greater ease. So, remember to focus on your posture, maintain a forward lean from your ankles, and keep that chin open to breathe better and perform at your best on the hills.

Tip #3: Imagine “Pulling Back” Your Legs

Another thing you’ll want to consider is utilizing the back muscles of your legs. This includes your calf muscles, which you’ll engage to spring off your toes, as well as your glutes (your butt muscles) and your hamstrings. You’ll be actively pulling back, almost pawing back, with your foot as it moves across the ground to propel you forward. By engaging these back muscles in your legs, you distribute the workload more evenly and effectively, allowing for a smoother and more powerful uphill running stride.

Tip #4: Arm Swing and Cadence

Another crucial aspect to focus on is your arm swing. When running uphill, you need to make your arm movements a bit more powerful than when running on flat ground. Uphill running requires extra effort, so it’s essential to generate more force through your arm swing to assist with propulsion.

Now, let’s talk about monitoring your stride rate or cadence, which is the number of steps you take per minute. When tackling uphill terrain, you’ll likely notice a decrease in your cadence compared to running on flat ground. This is partly due to the necessity of slowing your pace to manage the uphill climb effectively.

Typically, your cadence might be around 170 steps per minute on flat ground. However, when running uphill, it could drop to around 155 steps per minute. This reduction is necessary as you adjust to the slower pace and shorter stride length required for uphill running. Trying to maintain a high cadence with long strides uphill would be both inefficient and exhausting.

In conclusion, mastering uphill running form requires attention to detail

and consistent practice. By incorporating techniques such as maintaining a forward lean, engaging the back muscles of your legs, and optimizing your arm swing and cadence, you can enhance your efficiency and performance on challenging terrain.

We’ll see you next week with more running tips. Happy running!

  • Coach Sage Canaday