In a previous post, Your Inner Unicyclist, the concept of running or walking cooperating with gravity was compared to what a unicyclist, or a young child, does instinctively. When a unicyclist wants to move forward, they lean first and then pedal just enough to keep up with their forward momentum and stay balanced.
But how does this change on hills? or does it?
To find balance a unicyclist can adjust position (lean) and rpm (cadence) In general, a unicycle’s gear is fixed. Your Inner Unicyclist can adjust position (lean), cadence and stride length (gear).
Let’s look at an uphill first. What would a unicyclist do to maintain at least some momentum up a hill? To keep gravity working a unicyclist stays (leaned) into the hill. Given they are pedaling *up* a hill, a shorter gear is preferable to reduce effort. The steeper the hill, the shorter the gear. Cadence may also slow a bit on a very steep hill since it is harder to pedal.
In the images above, notice that the ChiRunning/ChiWalking/unicyclist position and motion changes as the forces of nature change going uphill.
What would a unicyclist do to maintain balance on a downhill? Since the hill is providing gravity it is possible to lean less – and allow the hill to provide some part of the “lean”. Given they are pedaling down a hill, a bigger gear or longer stride length to the rear is preferable to reduce effort keeping up with the hill. If the hill is so steep they cannot lean and stay balanced, they come up vertical allowing the hill to provide all the “lean”. Then they pedal quickly enough with a small gear to stay vertical and balanced.
In the images above, notice that the ChiRunning/ChiWalking/unicyclist position and motion changes as the forces of nature change going downhill.
Overall the concept is to reduce effort going uphill and reduce impact going downhill. Aside from adjusting lean, there is more to each of the four possible hill technique scenarios: uphill, steep uphill, downhill, steep downhill. There are also clear transition points between a gradual hill and a steep hill. See Chapter 7 in the ChiRunning Book, or Chapter 8 in the ChiWalking Book for more details on hill technique.
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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach – and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.