Unless you live in the Po Valley or along the coasts, where at most there is an overpass, there is no shortage of uphill (and downhill) runs on any route. And inevitable, every time, come the doubts: how to run uphill so as not to pack your legs and stop after a few meters?
Running uphill – as well as being a metaphor for life – is also extremely educational: it teaches you how to manage your efforts and rhythm, improves the mechanics of running, strengthens your muscles and, last but not least, strengthens your tenacity and character.
In this period of winter preparation, it is excellent to carry out sessions to improve Muscle Strength and Aerobic Resistance by training on dirt tracks, routes in nature, which almost always have stretches of uphill and downhill of various lengths and distances, the training is very effective and productive for runners. Even more for those who participate in mountain races, there can be considerable differences in height throughout the race with continuous uphill and downhill changes on fairly uneven paths, closer to the Trial Running races. And here is the article on the usefulness of the climbs, but especially on the difficulties in managing the descents.
I’ll try to explain some important concepts on how to deal with both training and competitions that have several challenging stretches uphill and downhill.
How to run uphill
When you arrive from a flat or downhill stretch, first of all it is a good idea to initially moderate your gait: facing the first metres of difference in altitude at full speed is the way to plant yourself – almost – immediately.
While attacking the climb it is natural to reduce the width of the steps (up to a mere ten centimetres between one foot and another) and increase the frequency: inevitably you will have less effort, and less energy will be wasted.
A climb is nothing more than an inclined plane, and physics will naturally induce you to move your shoulders forward to weigh less on your leg muscles, especially your calves.
If the climb is very long and/or very steep, it is also a good thing to alternate phases of running with short steps and phases of walking with a wide stride: in the first case the calves will work particularly (triceps surale) in the second quadriceps and buttocks. And often the speed between the two phases is not so different (especially on very steep climbs such as those of some trail running routes).