Running Up Hills


Running up hills is hard work. Simply put, it takes more effort to run up a hill and your body needs to recruit more muscle fibres to do so, than when you’re running at a nice tempo on the flat.

So how do you make running up hill easier? Get good at it by doing a lot of it. Your body will adapt and get stronger. You don’t need to do hill repeat after hill repeat to run a lot of hills. In Sydney, we are blessed with many things, amongst them, lots of hilly terrain. It’s pretty hard to run anywhere in Sydney that doesn’t include a few good hills.


Follow these tips and one day, you might just find you enjoy running up hills.


  • Include at least a few good hills in most of your runs. Don’t always hunt out the flattest route for your long runs.
  • Embrace the hill. Change your attitude to the hill. Call it a name. Conquer it. Heartbreak hill in the City to Surf is a classic example.
  • Include hill repeats as part of your program on a semi regular basis. Run handicap hills in a group starting with the slowest to fastest. This sets everyone a challenge.
  • Break your favourite hill up into chunks. Run the whole distance first time up, then come down 60m or so, and run up 40m. Keep going till you get back to the bottom, then run one more full hill, then continue on your run.


Think about your form when you’re running up hills


  • Good arm swing, as if you are pulling yourself up a rope. If your arms keep going, so will your legs.
  • Keep your strides quick, and slightly shortened, not great big long loping strides. Liken it to adjusting the gears on a bike for uphill riding. Your legs should be “spinning” up the hill when you’re running
  • Visualise pressing your hips into the hill so that you’re not bending at the waist
  • Experiment with whether you like to look at the peak of the hill and see yourself getting closer and closer, or if you prefer to keep your eyes down and get a pleasant surprise when you look up and you’re nearly at the top! Either way, keep your head and neck in good alignment – don’t drop your chin into your chest, or tilt your head backwards
  • Knees can come a little higher to help with your stride rate
  • You’ll naturally come up onto the ball of your foot as you are running up hill. Don’t fight it. Push down on your toes to create a lift that will help propel you forward.

When you reach the top of the hill, remember you have to keep running. It’s not an opportunity to slump into yourself and shuffle along for the next 200 metres. Once you reach the top, continue to think tall, count your breathes, your strides, anything to get you back into a good rhythm quickly. You’ll be surprised how quickly you recover if you stop thinking about how ghastly it was!


And remember: love the hill. It’s doing you good.


Share your uphill running tips below.