/ Technique/tips for running downhill
A bit of background to answer any queries. I'm mid thirties fit and active but never been a distance runner. I'm 6' tall 13st 3lbs with a BMI of 25.1. I run in Reebok shoes, not sure of the model but they are a running shoe. I run on tarmac and trails. Any advice gratefully received.
Lose some weight. Seriously, not only will it make the uphills easier but it will lower all the impact forces when descending.
lean forward and let go
Sounds like something i used to do. Just open your gait slightly and try not to slow yourself. I almost think of it like trying to roll smoothly down the hill.
this is a good book; although aimed at off road runners much of the advice still applies for any downhill running
I have ordered that book. In the only fell race I did last year, up and down one hill, I was fifth at the top of the hill but 11th by the time I got to the bottom again. I could do with learning how to go faster downhill without falling over.
Up to a certain steepness it's best to keep a similar cadence and take much longer strides, trying not to apply any brakes if possible. If it's really steep (mainly on trails) you'll have no option but to be braking and this will put a lot of strain on each step if you're taking long strides, so switching to a shorter-stride, shuffling action will be easier and less tiring. Just remember to stride out again as soon as you can safely do so.
Good plan. Once you've got the book practice the techniques regularly - they don't come naturally to most of us and simply knowing what to do is not enough. Be prepared for lots of DOMS :-) I went from the situation you describe to gaining places downhill (albeit in the middle of the pack) by deliberate downhill training, Good luck!
The best descenders I know are all light, nimble runners (especially offroad) despite what you'd think about gravity. Have you got enough grip offroad that's robbing your confidence? Plant your foot down and think about keeping your torso perpendicular to the slope rather than sitting back on your heels, braking and hammering your quads. It does get easier.
Falling over isn't necessarily a problem, I think I fell twice at the Grasmere Senior Guides, but I definitely overtook people!
Grip is important, but knowing when to trust it and when not to, more so.
If its not steep enough for it to be a problem when you fall, its probably not steep enough to fall.
I did a 17km trail race in the Alps a couple of weeks ago, pretty much up and down 950m - held 5th place to the top of the main summit then lost a place on the very steep, very technical descent. Falling in place would have meant an ambulance at least. Managed to hold 6th on the run in by throwing myself down some slightly less steep, but very rutted and rock 4x4 trails but still had some close shaves.
So I'm looking to improve my downhill technique too, because as noted you can be a great climber (I'm pretty decent) but you always lose out to the kamikazes on the descent (I'm not so good).
Will order the book and see if it has anything useful that I can apply.
It just depends on the terrain. The main thing is no brakeing, generally fast feet works well. the big thing is to use your body as a throttle, forwards speed up, backwards breaks.. minimise quad impact.
I find UK runners are generally idiots when it comes to down hills, especially in longer races.. only if a race is up and down only should you attack down hills, the rest should be quick but the main thing is minimal damage.. fast feet down, then attack the ups.. it's the ups where the big differences are made.
Grasmere is horrific, just fast feet and get clear ground to work with.
Can't agree with that; perhaps though you are describing the truth for the hard boys in the upper quarter. I'm not strong uphill but win numerous placings passing the many with timid ankles.
My tuppenceworth is that, like downhill MTB and skiing a really important factor is your balance. Like those two other sports you want your balance well centred and this means it being further forward than feels natural at first. The tendency to lean back leads to loss of control and a worrying feeling that your feet are about to slip out and deposit you on your posterior. There's a good reason for this. They are. As your foot hits the ground try to feel where your weight is on it. If it's mainly towards the back of your foot then move it forward. Some ways to do this: relax your shoulders and keep your hands low & bend forward slightly at the waist, point your toes just before they hit the ground so they hit first. Fast feet help so some drills stolen from track sprinting might be worth a try.
It was suggested to me once that having arms high is helpful, to the extent that you end up looking like you're giving the Team America secret signal as you pelt down hill. Though this may have been for more technical ground rather than grass slopes
Without getting in to all the technicalities (which the book does splendidly), the thing that seemed to really help me was concentrating on "fast feet" as Iain said above - both a high cadence and, vitally, seeking to absolutely minimise the duration of contact with the ground, the latter being something that took a lot of work for me, being a big lummox. It's a really gratifying thing to train because most people have a lot of room for improvement with just a bit of work on technique
Have fun P
I'd be one of the people you'd be passing :)
Last night I flogged myself quite hard at The Beast to get a few places on the first big climb ...and then lost a couple of them on the long grassy descent. Just not as fast as I used to be after a string of sprained ankles. I can force myself to go faster but have lost some of the confident skip I used to have. Something to work on.
Take your brain out at the top as you won't be needing it. Get comfortable moving at speed and reading the ground ahead so it's not reactive movements but flowing with the terrain.
Plenty of really good advice above, and from some very experienced people, too.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned but which I've found very helpful is the advice I was given a while ago: when your back knee is raised, lift it slightly higher than feels natural as your front foot is landing. (If that makes sense: it's harder to describe than to do.) I wouldn't use this technique on steep fell descents, but where the surface is good and I can trust my feet I find it is quicker and keeps my gait more fluid.
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