|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
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