Love hills and they will love you back
I took a good friend on a trail run today. Its a gorgeous trail with an amazing view. What I forgot to tell her was the mile and a half climb to get to the nice flat easy part. As she struggled up the hill, cursing my name with every step I'm sure, I got thinking. How can I make running hills easier? What is it about running hills that is so different than just running in a flat neighborhood?
Hills are a totally different beast than running flat. There's adjustments your body needs to make. You have to change your stride, your mindset. Hills are intimidating. But they don't have to be.
You have to shorten your stride and take tiny little baby steps. One foot in front of the other, that's all it takes. Short and quick, short and quick. My coach yells that at us over and over. Short and quick! But it helps so much. Before you know it, you'll suddenly be at the top!
A common mistake many runners make is to stop as soon as they get to the top of a hill. Its fine to stop if you need to catch your breath, but put in a quick surge at the top before you stop. This will teach your body to keep going after you feel like you've given it your all. It will also give you a huge advantage in races. You'll blow the competition out of the water with just a short surge right before the crest of a hill. Mentally it's incredible for your psyche to push past that hard point, and for your competition it crushes their psyche!
Some hills are huge. They are daunting. It looks like they go on forever. But the view at the top is going to be so worth it! Don't let hills intimidate you. Tell yourself "I am good at hills. I am going to kill this hill. I am strong." This mantra is what really helped me in the race that changed my life. When I got to the hills, I had practiced telling myself how good I was at them, and when the time came to race on them..I dominated them. I crushed those hills into the ground! You be in control of the hill, don't let it be in control of you. Attack the hill. Attack it like nobody's business. I'm not saying sprint up the hill. You'll tucker out in 2 seconds. But attack it with confidence. And if you have to walk, its OK.
Let gravity pull you down the hill. Don't slow yourself down, this is an easy way to get shin splints. That being said, don't let gravity cause you to run out of control down the hill either. Try and find a nice balance between putting on the brakes and letting yourself go.
Next time you look up and see that daunting hill in front of you what are you going to think? I hope its something along the lines of "I've got you where I want you, now I'm going to SMASH you!" and then you laugh evilly to yourself and dominate those hills.
Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.