Trail Running: Tips and Techniques for Elevation

When it comes to tackling terrain, you’re going to face some ups and downs. Follow these quick Pro Tips to help conquer those intense inclines and keep yourself moving forward.

Trail running is a great way to stay active and explore new environments. Unlike road running or jogging on a track, trail running puts you in the elements and exposes you to the natural wonders of the outdoors. The uneven paths and changing landscapes can be a challenge, so having some helpful techniques in your back pocket can be a big advantage on a trek.

“One of the nice things about trail running is that you don’t have to run the whole time,” says Faith Briggs, Director of Toughness at Columbia Sportswear. “Even the pros are walking on the uphills. If you have a long way to go, it makes sense to conserve some of your energy.”

Briggs calls out two main approaches you can consider when tackling those steep inclines. Trekking poles can be helpful in your ascent, but they can be clunky to carry on a lighter trip and you might not always have them at your disposal. This is where the tactic of power hiking can become a trail runner’s best friend.

“Basically, with power hiking you put your hands on your thighs and you’re going to be sharing the energy, making your arms an extension of your legs on the way up,” says Briggs on this helpful approach.

To use the power hiking method to make it up a mountain, start by leaning forward a bit, keeping a bend in your knee, and place your hands on your quads. With each step up in elevation, press down on your legs with your arms, using that pressure to push off and propel yourself forward.

Take power hiking at your own pace and it can help you conserve some energy for later in your run. Try this trick out on your next excursion to make that uphill battle a bit easier.

Need an extra boost of motivation during those extra-long treks? Check out our tips for staying motivated on the trail.