Hill Running with Asthma

by Leona B
(Cleethorpes, UK)

I started running this year 30th May. I had never run at all before and having asthma I thought it would be a problem. To my surprise I have quickly built up and now run 3 times a week distances between 3-7 miles.

I did a trial half marathon in 2hr 19 min and have completed a couple of races and although I'm not last my times need improving on.

However my recent race was a hilly course and I just could not breathe, as soon as I start to run uphill I struggle to get enough air into my lungs.

I did finish the race without having to stop but this did hold me back. I have done some hill training but I do find it very difficult.

I am in a running group and do have support in training etc.

My question is how do I help my breathing during hill runs, I don't need inhalers and rarely get out of breathe on flat runs.

Any techniques I could try or advice would be great.

Thanks, Leona.

hill running with asthma
Answer by Dominique:

Hi Leona,
Thanks for your question about hill running with asthma.

This is a tough one. The problem with hill running is that it quickly pushes up your heart rate and breathing. When you have asthma this then becomes an issue of course.

You can work on making hills easier for you, but I am not sure the problem will go away completely. I mean everyone, with or without asthma, usually has trouble with hills.

The best way to make hill running easier is to do hills often. Make them a regular part of your runs. It will help condition your legs and over time they do become easier to handle.

Another way to make hill running easier is to work on your technique. As soon as you start climbing hills make sure you take smaller, but quicker, steps.

When you go up the stairs two steps at a time it is a lot harder than one step at a time, it makes your legs work harder. So the same with hills, reduce your stride length, focus on short, quick steps and it will be easier.

Another thing to focus on is your upper body. You want to keep it straight and keep your head up right.

Many people start slumping and looking at the ground when they are battling hills.

Keep your head upright and your back straight and you'll be able to draw in a lot more air.

One way to do it is to focus on a point in the hill ahead of you and look at that. Don't look at your shoes but look at the point in the hill.

Another "trick" is to imagine there is a rope around your middle which is pulling you up to the top of the hill. This will make you keep your back straight.

These are some basic tips for hill running. There are a few more on this page:

Hill Running

Hope this helps a little.
Best of luck.
Kind regards,

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Running Training Helpline.

Like this page:

Share this page:

Like this site:

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


  • Beginner Running Tips

    Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.

  • Running for Weight Loss

    Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.

  • Running Training

    The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.

  • 5k Running Tips

    The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.

  • 10k Running Tips

    The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!

  • Marathon Running Tips

    The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!

What's New?

  1. Half Marathon - Need 11 Minutes Improvement

    I ran my first half marathon yesterday. I'm a 48 y/o female and my time was 2:11 (gun time). I trained with one long run a week and two short runs -

    Read more

  2. 5 Minute Mile at 45 Years Old

    Mid-life crisis question. I'm 45 years old and haven't run seriously since college. In high school, I ran 4:40 for a mile; 10:20 for two miles. I could

    Read more

  3. Sneezing after Running

    Every time I finish a run, I start sneezing (like a minute straight). For the rest of the day, I will have a runny and stuffy nose and will continue

    Read more

  4. Special Running Workouts :: Billat's Four by Five and the Thirty-Thirty

    Veronique Billat trains elite runners. She has found a few great workouts to improve your running and increase your running speed. Learn all about them on this page.

    Read more

  5. Want to Run a Half Marathon in Less Than Two Hours

    Love your website! Today I ran 5 km in my local race. My time was 25 minutes, 38 seconds. I am a 44 year old woman, average height and build (5'5 and

    Read more