Most runners always attack the uphill segments of a race or workout. While being proficient at climbing definitely comes in handy, running and riding downhill is just as important as any part of the day. On a training run, being able to run downhill effectively can save muscles in your legs, and allow you to keep your rhythm. On race day, while many races break up on the uphill segments, many races can be decided by who can descent the best.
Most people think of descents as recovery from the hard efforts of running up hills. While it can be just that, the way most people run downhill is often more straining than running uphill. Most runners typically get nervous about flipping over their feet and going tumbling down to the bottom, causing them to lean back, keep their bodies vertical, and applying the brakes with their knees in order to slow themselves down. Here are a few helpful tips to get you down your next hill fast, efficiently, and safely ready to tackle the next climb.
Don’t Be Afraid
This is the root of all evils with downhill running. In order to speed up, you have to let the fear of falling face first into concrete go out the door. If you run properly, your feet will stay underneath you, and you’ll be just fine.
Concentrate on Form
Running downhill is just like running on any other surface, and you need to run with the same mechanics. Most people have the misconception that when the ground slopes down, your body needs to remain upright. This is not the case. In order to run with the same mechanics, you need to lean forward so that your body is closer to perpendicular with the ground itself. Imagine running on flat ground while trying to lean your whole body backwards. It doesn’t work very well!
Let Gravity Work
When you run downhill, let gravity take over. There’s a reason people think downhills are good recovery, and its because gravity can move you forward without too much effort, all you need to do is tap into it. This is where the leaning forward, letting your legs roll, and letting off the brakes comes into play.