Tackling hills on the trail
Learn how to adjust your stride for trail running
Ryan Ervin, a former Canadian mountain running team member, says that a steady cadence leads to better performance. That’s because the contraction of leg muscles helps move blood around the lower body, so if the leg muscles start contracting less often—because you slow down while running up a hill, for instance—less fresh blood is circulating around your leg muscles. A steady cadence maintains a steady blood flow, and an even output is easier to maintain over long distances. “You should adjust your stride length from very short steps up a steep hill to very long strides down a moderate hill,” Ervin says. You can use a pedometer to monitor your cadence or just go by feel.
What you need: a run with rolling hills.
How to: Warm up for five minutes first and then find a comfortable pace and head out on the trail. Going up the hills, relax and shorten your stride. Try landing on your entire foot, not just your toes, to give your calves a break. At the top begin to lengthen your stride to match the terrain. On downhills, keep your feet low to the ground, touch lightly and take longer strides—push yourself to go faster. If you feel out of control, shorten your stride. Use the speed and energy of the downhill to propel you across the flats or up the next hill.
This article was originally published on April 5, 2012