Why Runners Should Up The Incline

Photo: via @sarah_raphael.
Yesterday, in San Francisco, 100 women wearing the new adidas UltraBOOST X ran up a hilariously steep road called Filbert, which boasts an incline of 31.5% (17.5°). Then, we ran down Lombard Street, another fantastically steep hill featuring eight 'hairpin turns' (lols bends in the road so sharp, cars have to turn 180° to get down them). If it weren’t for the other 99 women – comprising Olympians, athletes, sports personalities and personal trainers – I would have stayed in bed eating biscuits. It’s amazing how manageable San Francisco hill sprints in the rain become when you’re surrounded by female energy, emotional support and women who run between 100m and 100 miles professionally yelling mantras to spur you on.

I am a fair enough 10k runner but I can barely make it up the escalators on the underground because I only ever run on flat courses and I avoid hills like I avoid coriander. I haven’t built my muscles for incline, which I thought was fine, but turns out it’s not. As I learnt from Rio Olympic Games middle-distance runner Dominique Scott yesterday, if you only run forward and on flat, you only use one set of muscles, and by neglecting the others, you increase your risk of injury. Which could explain my dodgy knee. Fortunately, in the moment I realised this, I happened to be surrounded by Olympic runners and professional athletes, who gave me some advice…
Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.

Why you should run up hills…


“Running up hills is a brilliant strength workout. Strength training helps us be better, faster runners because you’re teaching your muscles to get stronger, which increases your efficiency, your leg strength, your leg stride and your pace. Generally speaking, running up hills or steep inclines helps all your muscles work together better.” Olivia Ross-Hurst, heptathlete and adidas running captain

How you should run up hills…

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“Pick your knees up higher. Keep your body upright; don’t lean forward at the hips, which a lot of people do, because that just cramps you. Keep a nice straight line in your shoulders, hips, knees. And run mostly on your toes. It all takes practice!” Olivia Ross-Hurst

“After you’ve landed on the ball of the foot, you need to drop your heel down. You cannot just be running on your toes, you’ll get really sore calf muscles, so you want the ball of your foot to touch the ground first, then your heel to drop, then you push off again.

"Your arms drive your legs, so use your arms when you’re going uphill! A lot of people think you have to lengthen your stride, or even shorten it, but I would say keep your stride the same. And don’t look down! Keep looking up!” Dominique Scott
Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.

What about when you’re halfway up and thinking ‘Na’?


“When I get ready for a race, I’m gearing up for battle. The running game is totally mental – you have to go to the start line thinking you’re the shit. Work on that even more than your running style.” Robin Arzon, street athlete

“Whenever you can, run with other women. There’s a voice in my head that goes, ‘Yeah, I’m just gonna walk’, but then I look at all the women around me who aren’t stopping to walk and I think: If they’re not stopping, why should I?” Hannah Bronfman, dancer, boxer, yoga pro
Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.

What to wear...


Designed specifically for women, the adidas UltraBOOST X moves with your foot as you flex and stretch with each step. I can attest to this, and to the solid grip on the soles which helped me run down slippery Lombard Street in the rain. The soles are made from a bouncy rubber so you feel quite springy in them, and they're exceptionally soft and lightweight. The most distinctive thing about the trainer is the gap between the fabric and the sole, which is intended to complement the arch of your foot – whether it's high, medium or flat, the shoe moves to accommodate you. This trainer launches in the UK on 8th February.

So that's how you run up hills. Granted, it's a lot easier when you're kitted out and in the company of the most motivational women in the world, but hopefully you can take this advice with you and activate it when you need it most. See you at the top.

www.adidas.co.uk/ultraboost_x