Those darn hills...


"I was flying until I hit that hill."

"I hate hills!"

"I am so bad at hills."


You either dread them or secretly wish for them. Those that wish to climb elevation have come to terms with the pain and determination hill running commands. Birthed out of the moment where you declared hills to be your conquered enemy, you learned how to climb with determination. 

There are a few techniques that you could employ to reach the top with energy.  However, don’t get lost in these tips, because truly it is your will that will get you there.  More on that after I cover the basics of hill running.

Thanks to Youtube for this example of uphill running form.  This runner will make it to the top!

Thanks to Youtube for this example of uphill running form.  This runner will make it to the top!

  1. Break the hill into sections. Climb each section one at a time. Small goals are easier to reach.  Many small goals add up to the big goal you want to achieve.
  2. Slightly lean into the hill.  From your heels, not your hips, lean with the hill.
  3. Knees up, strong arms
  4. Use the same effort over the top of the hill and let gravity pull you down the decline.  Gravity will do a portion of the work, giving you a chance to rest.
  5. Don’t lean back while running downhill, you are breaking yourself and causing extra stress and wasting the free speed of the downhill.
  6. Run hilly routes, don’t avoid them.  I remember one run with my 3 boys on bikes and my daughter in the stroller, in addition my friend with her daughter in her stroller where we were in search of all hills in the nearby neighborhoods. This was at the request of my bikers since flying downhill was what kept them from giving up on our adventure.  Look forward to hills. See the upside of hills.
  7. Hills are cardio and strength training at one time: multi-tasking as a runner.
  8. WHAT GOES UP, gets to go DOWN. Unless your start and finish are in different locations, you will have the opportunity to run downhill as much as you ran uphill. 

My first 5 years of running consisted of conquering Colorado foothills and flying down the backside of high grade “hills”.  The Death Quest hill workout was a Monday staple and summer Wednesdays at six A.M.  brought a fierce fight to the top of the Horsetooth Reservoir switchbacks where you look out at the city of Fort Collins. Most cross country races were ruthless all the while a mile high in elevation.  This was normal.  This is what I had to conquer over and over.  And I liked it. I liked the challenge.

More experience, more determination will rid you of fear. Map out the hills near your running routes and loop them into your miles.  Use the tips above to make the most of your steps.

Hill Lovers Challenge - Bridge of Flowers 10K in August - The elevation map above is from this race through a small town in MA. "You said it was hard, but that was unspeakably hard." Yet, we still keep coming back.


This coach is proclaiming, “You got this!”

Comment below with your favorite hills.

Shelly Binsfeld

Running Coach in Minnesota

Optimize your Hard Work in an Intelligent Way