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October 01, 2018

Climbing a mountain is an oft used metaphor for life with good reason. The bile in your lungs, the burn in your legs, the breathless, sweaty endeavour, all to reach that pinnacle where you will find ultimate satisfaction, content in the knowledge you worked damn hard for the achievement.

Trail runners know better than many what this feels like. Of course it is wonderful to work ferociously to reach the giddy heights of a hill or mountain, but it can be made easier on your body.

For many people, the climb is not satisfying, but a slog and a means to an end. Enjoying the climb and even using it to your advantage, is possible if you follow this advice:

  • Know your enemy. If the hill is super steep, you might be better off power hiking than trying to run. You will be able to conserve more energy, breathe more evenly and run off the top feeling strong.
  • Try to maintain an upright posture. We tend to start leaning forward when running up which not only constricts the breathing but also makes us feel heavier. Your head actually weighs less if you keep it on top of your neck and not in front of it!
  • Use your arms. By driving your arms back, you will naturally drive your legs more powerfully and quickly too.
  • Look ahead and not up. Not only will this help your foot placement, but it will keep you from seeing how much further you have to go!
  • Take small steps. If you take big steps, you have to work much harder to bring your back leg all the way up to meet your front leg, and you are braking constantly. Small steps enable you to stay upright and breathe more naturally.
  • Breathe deeply. If you breathe steadily and deeply, you will keep your heart rate under control and get a constant supply of oxygen into your body.

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If you can employ these tactics, you will get to the top of the hill faster, in better shape and be able to keep that momentum going off the top. Go, climb that mountain!