Yes, that’s right it’s possible to love running hills in Kansas City. Everyone dreads the small hills, long hills, steep hills. Before races people are looking at maps, driving the course, asking other runners to spot the hills so they can prepare for them. Me? I look forward to the hills? Yes, I’m crazy, but not for a particular reason.
I do everything opposite of what I’ve read in magazines. They always tell you to look beyond the hill as you’re running it. I’ve always kept my head straight for proper form, but when approaching/running hills I will NOT look at the hill, I keep my eyes on the ground. Running is mostly mental for me and by not seeing the hill I have nothing to worry about, I’m just running. I’ve run with people on dark nights and there were hills that people didn’t even realize were there because they could not see them.
Again, not going by what the experts say, I take a stronger longer stride. I’ve changed up my stride and using more of my thighs (biggest muscle on your body, use it) to give my calf muscles a break and use my thighs as a power stride. The steeper the hill the more your thighs are being used. Walk up any steep stairs/ramp/short hill and you will feel it in your thighs. I will use a longer stride which actually speeds you up.
Upon coming up to the hill, it’s also about getting my breathing right and my pace adjusted, I’m not going to slow down and take a break going up the hill. I’m challenging myself to conquer that hill.
Using this style in any race will be a huge benefit mentally. While everyone else is slowing down, walking or crawling up the hills you will be flying past people on your way. Upon reaching the top, take a very small rest and that’s only to catch your breath and get back on your pace. Talk about a morale booster! Again the mental part coming into play, upon seeing the hill you know that you will be passing people and will look forward to every hill in order to advance in the pecking order in your gender/age group.
Of course everything I’ve written is against what the experts say, and I’m insane, so you may disregard everything I’ve written but be advised when you see me in the race and I’m passing you on the hill and you’re thinking “That guy is mental” you’re right!
Paul Gorman is an ambassador for the Kansas City Track Club. If you come to any KCTC event you will probably have a chance to meet him! You will remember him for his humor and how much he wants to help other runners out! You can see Paul every Monday night either leading the new beginners run or helping out Lou.