Anticipation of the Sooke 10K and Hatley Castle 8K races: Lucy Smith’s “how to run hills”
The first three races of the Vancouver Island Race Series have delivered! Well run events, great courses, impressive post race snacks and lots of good vibes with the people we like to hang out with. The flatter courses have been well suited to figuring out early season pacing and fitness. Coming up, we have the Sooke 10k and the Hatley 8k, courses known more for their rolling nature. Are you prepared?
How’s your relationship with the hills in your life? Do you embrace them for the challenge or fear them for being difficult? I think hills are a great chance and opportunity to practice positive mindset and turn “hills are hard” into “I love the challenge of hills.”
Running hills is just another part of racing, and if racing well is a game, then it’s your job to come up with a great strategy for success on them. Remember that practicing a positive mindset in training and building strength on hills (with short repeats) will help you on race day.
Technical aspects of hill running
- Form is key: run with a tall relaxed posture and a slight lean into the hill.
- Strong arm swing will help drive your body up the hill.
- Look to the top of the hill to where you want to go. Use that sight line to ‘pull’ you up the hill.
- Think “quick knees,” and “quick arms” driving you up the hill, and quick feet springing off the ground behind you, with a slightly shorter stride (shorten your stride as necessary to maintain your cadence).
- Run fluidly down the hill, being as smooth as possible, with light steps that avoiding heavy pounding. Gravity is on your side so use that free speed.
- Relax the shoulders and get in good exhales on the way down.
Mental aspects of hill running
Examine your current mindset towards hills. Does it veer towards the negative? “Hills are hard,” “I am not a good hill runner.” Or do you face a rolling course knowing it’s going to be some effort, but you are determined to make it work? “I like hills. Hills are for dancing up; being great.”
- Replace negative self-talk (slow, inefficient) with positive words (quick, competent).
- Creative strong images for self. See yourself as a good hill climber.
- Create positive queues (dance, quick, light).
- Practice in training for racing success.
Previewing courses is always a good idea if you want to do your best, and knowing where the hills are really helps you prepare mentally for success. Own the particular hill or hilly sections by mastering mental and technical aspects.
- Pick the point over the crest and run over the hill, getting back into pace smoothly.
- On a hilly course, be smart about pacing, and tune into your effort a much as your watch.
Run for Joy! Lucy Smith.