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Inline Skating





How to skate up hills

Skating up hills is always hard work and you're going to go more slowly than on the flat, no matter if you're Eddy Matzger or an ordinary recreational skater. There are a few tips that can make it easier for you to deal with the problem. Part of the issue is technical, and part is fitness. Here are my tips:
Drop a gear

Turn your toes out more and try to make a herring-bone pattern with your skates. This equates to dropping a gear and will make it easier to go uphill.
More knee bend

More knee bend will help your balance and will enable more power to be put to the pavement, exactly what's required for skating uphill.
Shorter strides and higher cadence

Again this works together with turning your toes out and makes it easier to go uphill. Lots of small but powerful pushes means more power pulses per second, and that helps to get you up there.
Use Arm Swing

Swing your arms to help up your power output. Just be aware that this will most likely redline your heart and without training you may not be able to sustain arm swing for long. How do you swing your arms? Funnily enough it's much like walking, except for the sideways push that skating has. Think of an apple tree in front of you, pluck imaginary apples and throw them horizontally behind you.
Other Technique Tips

If you need good technique skating on the flat, you need it twice as much when going uphill. Make sure that you put your hips into every stride at the new high cadence, and make sure your feet always come back to your centreline. You'll also glide less and you won't have as much of a forward push going uphill.

Not only do you need to practice the different skating technique involved, but you need to get fit at skating uphill. Common training is to do repeated uphill sprints to improve fitness and power. It's not the same as skating on the flat, you can train to skate fast on the flats for ages, but to do well at hills you actually have to train on them.

Those skaters at the London Inline Marathon who trained on hills noticed a huge difference over the few who either didn't or didn't do enough hill training.
How to attack a hill

Keep your speed up as you approach the bottom of the hill using big powerful gorilla sized strides if you can. As you hit the slope, drop a gear and up your cadence a whole bunch, how much depends on how steep the hill is. You can really see Eddy Matzger do this in this footage of the Montreal Marathon, although he's using it to put the hurt on the other skater, which he does very successfully. Now try to keep a pace you can maintain for the entire hill, you still want some go juice left in the tank when you get to the transition at the top of the hill. As you get to the transition on the top of the hill, change back to bigger and more powerful strides as you accelerate over the top. There's little that's more demoralising than seeing a skater you barely stayed with up the hill then power away from you at the top!
What about really steep hills?

If there's enough room, you can tack back and forth across the hill. While this makes the distance up the hill much longer, more importantly it reduces the apparent slope. It's good to crossover doing this.
And back down again?

Well, make sure you can skate in control and are able to stop if you're going to go down again. Always treat downhills with great respect, so if in doubt, don't skate, take your skates off and walk down.

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