Hills don’t have to be a slog!

At the beginning of the week I took advantage of a clear, bright morning and swapped the office admin for a walk through Kingley Vale up to Bow Hill. Kingley Vale is a National Nature Reserve and home to one of the finest examples of ancient Yew forest in Europe. Bow Hill has the Devil’s Humps (Bronze age burial burrows).

The vista when you get to the top is spectacular. At 206m it gives panoramic views of the surrounding area overlooking Chichester harbour, Isle of Wight and The South Downs National Park.

The walk up Bow Hill can seem a bit of a slog as it is a steep ascent. I had those familiar thoughts at the bottom,  “Head down” and go for it”.

If you think about it “Head down” makes no sense. If you are looking down at your feet you have a forward head posture. Not good, especially as your head weighs 4 – 5 Kg. This will round and narrow your shoulders and make your torso collapse forward. When this happens it is harder to breathe and it also makes the body heavy.

“Go for it” is not a helpful thought either. When you try to get there in the quickest way possible, there is often a price to pay. Your technique suffers, injury is more likely, you tire quicker.

You want to be light on your feet to get up a hill, so my post-it reminder for this week will read –

Think about the process of going uphill and be aware of your body in movement…

  • Lean slightly into the hill and have the thought of sending the crown of your head up to the brow of the hill (this will stop you collapsing forward and pulling down)
  • Look ahead rather than down
  • Shorten your step, it will make it easier.
  • Walk at a steady pace and get a rhythm going.
  • Let your arms swing and have the thought of heavy hands. This will help stop you hunching and rounding your shoulders, which will allow your head to be balanced and keep your torso lengthened, not bent.
  • Every now and then give your head a nod to free off any tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • If the going gets tough, try counting your steps – It helps!

The above photo of the view from Bow Hill does not really do it justice. This link will give you more information about Kingley Vale it is well worth a visit.