Sunday, March 26, 2006

More Marathon tips from L St. Running Club Coach Chris Forti

A wise man once said "Hills are your friends." So today running expert Chris Forti provides Part 2 of his hill running advice with tips on powering up and over those friendly hills. Take it away, Chris...

In the Boston Marathon, what goes down must come up … in Newton. You’ve gotten through the downhills, you have passed the halfway point, and now you might be getting a little tired. But this is no time to dwell on it, you’ve got some hills to climb. Running uphill isn’t easy for everyone and can be downright difficult for anyone in this portion of the race.

Here are some tips on how to get up those pesky hills. First of all, take a couple deep breaths and relax. Don’t go into an uphill already breathing heavy, as it will make you feel worse than you really are, and the time it takes to relax will be worth it in the end.

As you start to climb the hill, shorten up your stride a little bit, because if you try to keep the same stride length, your center of gravity will change and your quadriceps will have to do more work to pull you up the hill. Lean forward and if you can, try to focus on having your midfoot or forefoot strike the ground first.

Since you are in a race, there will be people around you. Use the people around you to get up the hill. You might get passed by one or two people, but overall, just stay with the group as they progress up the hill. Never get fixated on the performance of one person thinking they will take you to the promise land. They could be worse at hill running than you and slow you down with them.

Lastly, every once in a while glance up to see where the top of the hill is. Once you start cresting the hill, keep with your hill-running form and count to five slowly. By then time you count to five, your feet will now have gotten to the crest that your eyes have already seen.

These are just some tips you can use while running on hills, but don’t wait until Marathon Monday to try them out. You still have a couple of weeks left in your training to give these a try. Being the sponge that you are in absorbing all the information you can get also means having the curiosity to experiment with this information. You’ll find that some things will work for you (either as it has been told to you or with some personal modification), and other strategies will just feel downright uncomfortable for you. Go with what feels good for you; go with whatever makes you a more confident runner.