Hill Running Technique

Follow the tips for hill running below and develop a Hills - TNF09new appreciation for hilly races. Many people fear the hills, even avoid them if they can, but they can provide great benefits in training to improve your technique, speed and power. Master the subtle technique cues, improve your fitness and turn the hills into your strength.

Maintain a fast cadence or leg turnover

On of the crucial elements in hill running is to maintain a fast cadence. The same rate you would 6ft M - MHon the flat. Shorten your stride as the hill becomes steeper & the intensity increases but maintain the fast turnover. This will improve your hill running efficiency and help you cruise past other runners on hilly terrain. Learn to love the hills and look forward to them in races in training, and they will quickly become a strength. Weekly hill training workouts will dramatically improve your fitness and strength. If possible aim to replicate the race conditions as much as possible. Eg if you’re training for the City2Surf try to get out on Heartbreak hill or find another hill with similar terrain (80m of climbing over 2km).


Uphill running technique

  • Remain upright and tall with a slight forward lean into the hill
  • Run on the balls of your toes, especially on steep hills.
  • Use a more powerful arm drive to help maintain your fast leg turnover even when you start to fatigue
  • Change your breathing rhythm to one that will help you maintain the fast turnover
  • Adjust your running speed to prevent you from tiring too quickly (but maintain that fast turnover)

Downhill running technique

  • Lean forward (from your ankles) so you’re perpendicular to the hill
  • Increase your pace and use the free speed from gravity
  • Don’t lean back, this will result in high impact forces through the knees and heavy breaking as your feet land out in front of the body
  • Maintain a fast cadence and try to land with your feet underneath you
  • Lengthen your stride and increase your pace to utilise the free speed downhills Hill-running

Training for hilly races or using hills to improve your technique, speed & fitness is a strong element in your training program. Depending on your current experience, goals and training level aim for 1-2 weekly hill sessions. This can be a continuous run over undulating terrain, short fast hill repeats with walking recovery or long hill repeats with active recovery, depending on your goal. For specific hill running workouts check out our blog on City2Surf hill training.

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