Conquer That Climb

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Some race courses are so flat that bumps in the road are of no concern, or the race organiser will tell you that the biggest climb of the day will be a traffic bridge crossing a road.

Others are legendary for their “heartbreaking” hills: at– the Comrades, Inchanga, Botha’s Hill, Cowies Hill, Polly Shortts to name but a few of the monsters you climb.

But with the right training and approach you can get yourself ready for any hill, and the following tips will help you climb any hill come race day.

Know what you’re in for

Becoming familiar with the course, so that there are no surprises, will put your mind at ease, which will help you relax and perform better. The classic example is in the Comrades Marathon’s ‘Up’ run, where many a novice has crested Little Polly Shortts thinking that the climb is finished and then accelerated for home, only to discover the real Polly Shortts waiting around the next corner.

Check your shoulders

Before charging a hill, do a shoulders check. Are they creeping up to your ears? If so, roll them both forward then backward to relieve tension and keep them low and relaxed. (This is a tip you should use throughout your run, actually, especially if you often suffer shoulder cramps.

Check your quads

If you feel tightness in your quads, gently “kick” your leg back slightly farther than normal at the end of each stride while you are going up. Don’t do this on a down slope, though.

Glide on the downs

When running downhill, instead of landing each stride on the heel, focus on the feeling of naturally gliding downhill –almost in a free fall – landing evenly across the midfoot.

Don’t look up!

While some runners are motivated by the sight of a big climb ahead of them, others find it intimidating and off-putting, quickly reducing them to a walk because they know what lies ahead of them. If that’s you, simply don’t look up when you start a big climb. Just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the top of the climb.

Before you know it, you’’ll be going down the other side.

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