6 Tips For Runners Who Struggle Running Uphill

running uphill tips

23 Jan 6 Tips For Runners Who Struggle Running Uphill

I know that feeling oh to well.

Everything was going well, running felt great and then all of a sudden…

Breathing rate rocketed, chest muscles got tighter and the digits on the watch showing pace started to rise higher. 


It doesn’t even have to be a “big” hill to cause these symptoms. A little gradually incline can make the same things happen to us.

Punishing yourself for being “unfit” or “bad at hills” isn’t the solution.


What is the solution to these uphills then?


But not just doing hill reps over and over again.

Practising the right technique – Purposeful Practise.


So below, I’ve taken 6 key tips we cover in a lot more detail on our Trail Mornings (next date is listed here).


Because I KNOW that you can run hills better. I believe anyone can.

It’s also worth mentioning here, that better doesn’t mean quicker. Running hills quicker can actually be a hindrance in the long run (pun intended).


Imagine for one moment that at the start of every run you have a certain number of matches available to use. Each hill you run that bit too hard, you strike a match and let it burn out. If you keep burning those matches, pretty soon you’ll have none left, and that feeling of your legs feeling pretty dead will be coming faster than a runner who has just spotted the finishing line metres away and theres a shiny medal waiting for them at the end.


Pretty quick 😉


So what top technique tips can you begin to implement?


Running Uphill Tips

    1. Short, sharp strides.
      The longer the stride, the longer the “dead spot” will be in your running stride. This applies for running on the flat too. When it comes to running UP, we want to keep as much momentum on our side as possible, and shorter strides helps with this.You also make the most of the stretch-shortening cycling in your legs, i.e. the elastic energy your muscles store up as you run. If you are taking long strides, a lot of the stored energy gets wasted, whereas a quicker stride means you’ll get a much higher energy return.

      Be aware that too much of a good thing can actually be negative, so have a play with short strides, your heart rate will quickly tell you if you are taking too many steps (as it’ll rise up quickly)


    1. Tall posture – chest up.
      A lot of runners start to look down and hunch over as the incline kicks in.Often as looking at the top of the hill fills them with dread!

      But we are now going to embrace these hills.

      Shoulders back and chest lifted will firstly open up your airways (funnily enough this is a really important thing!)

      Secondly, you start to focus further ahead (see point 4) and thirdly, the action of standing up taller brings on a feeling of confidence straight away.


    1. Powerful Arm Drive.
      Don’t just bring your arms along for a ride… Use them!Running uphill is a prime opportunity to really benefit from using your arms.

      In point one we spoke about a shorter stride, your arms dictate the speed of your legs, so it makes sense to turn your arms over quicker running uphill, it’ll lift your cadence and you’ll cover the distance quicker.

      Try it the next time you hit a hill, just turn those arms quicker and see what happens to your run. Ensure you keep your arms around 90 degrees and concentrate on driving your elbow backwards forcefully.


    1. Focus 30m in front of you (don’t look down)
      The hill doesn’t go anywhere if you avoid looking at it. And praying that it gets shorter doesn’t help either (honestly, I’ve tried this one too…!)Embrace it and know that you CAN conquer it.

      Placing your focus further ahead than you feet also enables you to see where you need to place your feet (especially important on trails where the surface might not be smooth).

      It also means that your head can also see any potentially low hanging branches that could be waiting to hit you…!


    1. Lean forwards from the ankle (not from the waist).
      Leaning from the waist results in you hunching over (not a good look nor good for posture).Lift the chest (point 2) and push the hips forwards to ensure that your WHOLE body is leaning into the climb and not making you work harder than you already
      have to!

      Think: Shoulders back, chest up, hips forwards.


  1. Drive the knees upwards rather than forwards.
    You want to run UP the hill, so ensure when you are tackling it you are aiming to lift your knee upwards and dropping your foot DOWNwards in order to drive the leg BACKwards.The only way you can move yourself forwards is to drag your foot back, so concentrate on this movement as you run uphill, imagine a child propelling a scooter, the whole movement is about dragging the foot backwards.

    hill running tips uphill

So there you have it – 6 key techniques for improving your uphill running.

But how can you implement them all at the same time.

The truth?

You can’t

So start by picking out just one, and on your next hill session, practise this ONE thing over and over again.

On the next session, add another thing to it, week by week you’ll bring in another aspect and eventually you’ll start to feel things click into place.

But always remember, it’s not about how FAST you cover the hill, but how efficiently you cover it, theres no point getting to the top and then being bent over double unable to take another step, that’s not going to help anyone.


For more details on Hill Running Technique, grab our Hill Running Guide which is included for FREE in the Runners Treasure Chest, plus, you’ll also be able to grab a copy of our 50 favourite running sessions too which contains plenty of hill training ideas too. All for free!

Enter the treasure chest by clicking HERE


We like to look after our running family.


Coach Ant

P.S. For more tips on hill running, check out our Running Weekends where we can take you through tis like these in far greater detail. Check out the details by following this link: https://runcamp.co.uk/home/running-weekend-by-runcamp/

P.P.S. If you know runners who could do with a helping hand on hills, make sure you hit the share buttons below and tag them to let them know – thanks 🙂

"Themost down to earth and informativerunning emails I've received"

Join our twice weekly emails for more ideas and help than you can shake your running shoes at. 

At best you'll learn a load of helpful stuff.

At worst, it's just another email to unsubscribe from, we also promise not to sell your data or email you from our lost Uncle who needs your bank details to help him move money around. Pinky promise.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.