Christiaan Greyling shares his Heart, Feet, Eat, Beat and Bums technique to conquer climbs
30 Jan 2015

Christiaan Greyling shares his Heart, Feet, Eat, Beat and Bums technique to conquer climbs

Training & Racing

There are 2 types of climbing when it comes to running; Climbs in training and climbs in Racing. People often get confused by how these have to be approached differently in in order to get to the top. The climbs in training should be your enemy, you should give your everything to trample it underneath your feet, while the climbs in a race should be your friend, you should approach it clever, with respect and use it to your advantage to trample your opponents.

How to train for climbs:

All training programs suggest hill work, but what type of hill work? Since we often have to deal with an 800m non-stop climb in a trail race.  The answer is short en sweet; Find yourself a steep hill between 200m and 400m and do 10-15 hill repeats. You can even do fartlek sessions on a long hill if you want to touch the beacon, but slogging up a hill for an hour in a training run just waits valuable time.

I live in Bloemfontein and do not have access to a hill… I know the feeling, as Landie and I lived in Houston Texas for a couple of months where the highest point is 6m above sea level. We had to run parking garages to get some hill training in. The latest research however shows that you can get the best results with strength training in the gym. See for more information on this.

Familiarise yourself with these pointers and you will never forget how to maximise your climbing.

Race Pointers – Heart, Feet, Eat, Beat and Bums


1.     Watch your heart rate

When you are in a race, keep one eye on the trail and one eye on your Suunto heart rate monitor. You do not want your heart rate to go into the red zone at all during a longer race. The red zone is the anaerobic zone where your muscles get minimal oxygen and it is almost impossible to recover from this state within the next 12 hours.

2.     Don’t attack the climb

The tempo you start should be the tempo you finish with. Runners often attack the climb form the start, but I would recommend a very mild approach to a climb in a race, rather finish stronger towards the top than going into the warned Red zone at the bottom.

Small steps – higher cadence

Rather use small steps at a higher cadence than using the big Gorilla walk when it is still runnable. It also helps you to keep momentum and rhythm.

3.     Eat before the climb

Proper route planning will enable you to eat well ahead of the climb in order to have the energy it requires to beat the climb. There is nothing worse than choking on an energy bar when you should be using your mouth to get maximum oxygen to your muscles. Eat 15-20 minutes before the climb for maximum results.

4.     Beat – Sets into a rhythm

Climbing breaks rhythm, rhythm keeps the mind happy. Try to get into a rhythm, although it is slow, but it does help to keep you going. To fake it – use an ipod…

5.     Think about your Glutes

The least but possibly the best tip to implement straight away. The Glutes group of muscles is one of the largest muscles in your body and can be used to your advantage to propel you forward and upward while running. Most runners do not use their Glutes at all. To have proper firing Glutes, you have to condition and strengthen for a number of months, but the below tip is indeed a cheat sheet while you are working towards aggressive buttocks.

Focus on your Glutes while running, it subconsciously makes your body aware about this big muscle and it will start to engage better. You will immediately see an improvement on your climb. Test this when running with a partner up a climb and think about your glutes to immediately see how you excel against your running partner. PS- Please don’t share this tip with your partner as this may result in awkward moments.


So next time you get to the bottom of a monster of a climb, just smile and think about the Heart, Feet, Eat, Beat and Bums technique and experience how you trample your opponents on uneven ground.

Landie Greyling