I came off BCMC last week and came upon a fellow who had been having some real challenges getting faster and feeling more proficient while climbing. "Climbing Guy" (I'll keep him anonymous) asked me a few questions. I gave him my email, and this morning he sent the following:
I bumped into you last week on Grouse Mt in the red VW. Hope all is well. I tried to run straight up after our discussion the next day but dropped a lung after the first quarter LOL! it 'seems' impossible! You were saying that the Grind tends to make people step due to it having stairs? so is their away round this? Some people say the only fast way is knees on hands technique bent over? Is doing it more often better or a detriment? I am going crazy!
Kind Regards, "Climbing Guy"
This was my response to "Climbing Guy".
Hi, "Climbing Guy"
Glad you got out there and tried to blast one. It's always fun putting the heart to a test.
When I ran I went up BCMC, a trail just to the east of the Grind. A bit longer and slightly less steep. It has far fewer steps and therefore allows me to choose my stride length. I have found, and many will agree, that a faster cadence and shorter stride helps to avoid or delay lactic acid build up. When you take longer strides it makes your muscles work much harder. In short, this extra work creates more of the ugly bi-product, lactic acid. I'm not suggesting you won't create lactic acid with shorter strides, but this may help to delay it's onset.
As for the hands on knees, it's not typically recommended for long climbs. I occasionally put my hands on my knees, but for only a few strides. A high posture with shoulders back is best. Your forward lean should be initiated from the ankles. This will help to defer/avoid low back strain and fatigue. As well, the high posture forces you to keep your shoulders back and your lungs open. Some folks lean over their knees and this compresses the lungs, which you need to be fully inflating during bouts of exercise like this.
I hope this helps. Please let me know how your next session goes.
1. faster cadence with your feet.
2. high posture
3. forward lean from the ankles
Also, more advanced runners control their breathing. Once it gets away from you, it's tough to bring back. Hill climbing breath is like yoga breathing, cyclical. If it's too rapid, you'll start to slow because the whole system isn't able to keep up.
Have fun out there, "Climbing Guy".
Salomon Flight Crew
I'm not the world's fastest climber so I'd love to hear what works for you.