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4798 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Nov 21, 2011 1:26 PM by RTeps
GinnyinPA Pro 150 posts since
Sep 29, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Oct 17, 2011 9:37 AM


I live in an area that is very hilly.  No matter which way I go, leaving my house I end up going up and down hills.  I did the entire c25k on a treadmill in the basement, but now that it has cooled off, I'd really like to run outside as long as the weather holds.  Trouble is, the hills.   On the treadmill, I could set a pace where I was challenged, but I could breathe.  On the street, I can't seem to get a pace where I can breathe at all normally.  Walking I barely notice the hills, but as soon as I start to jog, I'm sucking wind.  Even going downhill, I end up speeding up enough that I get a stitch in my side. 


So, is it better to force myself to run the hills even though I'm gasping for air, admit defeat and walk them until I'm in better shape, or go back to the treadmill? 

  • BOSNPM We're Not Worthy 2,482 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Oct 17, 2011 10:13 AM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    You will benefit greatly from hills and running outside.  Do some of both for a while!

  • waskydiver Rookie 5 posts since
    Aug 19, 2011
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    2. Oct 17, 2011 1:31 PM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    I, too, live in an area where hills are unavoidable.  Didn't realize it until I started running, but I am basically on a ridge.  I can't go more than a mile without going down a really big hill that I will have to go back up.


    At this point, I would suggest just hitting the hills at the same effort as you are hitting the flats.  If you have to walk... walk... Or jog-run (take a few steps jogging... then a few steps walking).  Just try to keep your heart rate even.


    Gradually, you will be OK running up the whole hill at a slower pace.  It may cause a spike in your heart rate, but that's OK.


    Eventually, you can look at the hills as good training opportunities.  Trying to maintain your pace, or pick it up a bit can be great substitutes for speedwork.


    Another important hint:  When approaching a hill DO NOT LOOK UP THE HILL.  Look at the ground, about 5 feet in front of you.  This psychologically flattens the hill a great deal.

  • Mikala_SF Pro 87 posts since
    Apr 14, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Nov 15, 2011 9:56 AM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    When running up hills throw your elbows back farther than you naturally would.  The momentum helps.  I saw this tip from a triathlon coach online and when I tried it I was shocked at how much it helped.  Also, when running downhill lean forward a *tiny* bit.  Instinctively we tend to lean back a smidge but this prevents gravity from helping us out. 


    Good luck on those hills!

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  • seb34 Expert 58 posts since
    Mar 24, 2011
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    4. Nov 15, 2011 2:00 PM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    hi Ginny,

    I live in PA too so I know what you mean   When I started, I was on a treadmill too.  When I went outside to run the first time, I believe I jogged partway up the hills and then walked when I became too out of breath.  Gradually I started trying to jog up them - what helped me was going REALLY slow, but still keeping the jogging "gait."  I still go more slowly on the hills now, and it is much much easier.


    I actively try to slow down when going downhill so I don't get shin splints or a stitch in my side.  I figure I must look very odd going downhill at a slower pace than I would on flat ground, but oh well.


    I also try to plan my route so that the hills are in the beginning/middle of a run rather than at the end.  It is always more of a challenge at the end, although I still do that sometimes.


    So I would say to take it slow and steady, and just attempt those hills.  I think you'll find that once you get used to them, they can be an enjoyable and challenging part of your run!  Good luck!

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  • NancyLFreeman Legend 243 posts since
    Feb 17, 2010
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    5. Nov 16, 2011 8:43 AM (in response to seb34)

    Ginny, hills can be great for your cardio fitness!  It's so flat flat flat around my neighborhood that I have to plan ahead to get any hill work in at all.


    Try shortening your stride going up hill, and lengthen it slightly going down, but keep the same rhythm in terms of steps per minute.  If you have to slow to a walk partway up, try and go a little further every day without slowing.



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  • crl8686 Legend 1,313 posts since
    Nov 11, 2007
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    6. Nov 20, 2011 9:59 PM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    Hills can be wonderful training tools. You can use them to build leg strength if you treat them as a type of interval training (run up the hill and then either walk or run slowly back down to recover). In routine training, or in a race, you will want to use a different strategy - run the hills at constant effort - that means to slow down for the uphills and speed up on the downhills. If the hills are relatively steep, the difference in uphill and downhill speed will be very pronounced. Bottom line...if they're in your neighborhood, use them to your advantage. (I live in a foothills neighborhood which is almost entirely rolling hills and very little flat ground. Hills are a part of the running life).


    By the way, how steep are the hills in your area? A few percent difference in the incline will make a large difference in effort required. If the hills are particularly steep (more than a few percent incline), you can also use the treadmill to work up to them. Start with a low incline and progressively increase it over the weeks.

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  • RTeps Expert 51 posts since
    Oct 13, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Nov 21, 2011 1:26 PM (in response to GinnyinPA)

    For what it is worth I would just try to do the hills outside.  I have heard (and I don't know for sure) that putting the incline to a 1 or a 2 on the treadmill simply mimics running outside on flat ground with no hills.  I have done two of the C25K runs on a treadmill due to weather and the running part was much easier but the mental part was tougher....the time went by SO SLOW!  BELIEVE me, I want to do them all on the treadmill because no matter where I run from my house I have a lot of hills that I have to conquer.  It is hard at first but I have noticed that I can do the hills faster now...I still get out of breath easier but for me I want the challenge.


    My suggestion would be to at least try it for a couple days and just slow down your pace on those hills and maybe that will help.  Over time you will get better at them.  Good luck!


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