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Health + Injury
Ultra / Adventure racing
Some Help on Downhill Training
Can you suggest some exercises or some drills for becoming more efficient and fast at downhill parts of the races?
i would really appreciate it...thanx
Hi tomas maletsidis, I hope this is of some use to you. The information comes from
Downhill Running to improve Running Economy.
The slope should be gentle--0ne to two percent is sufficient,
The surface should be soft:
Short grass; fairly even sand or dirt trails; an old railroad bed, or
treadmill running...if the treadmill has the ability.
The first session
Start with gentle strides just like you would any other form of training.
As you loosen up, push off the calf muscles to go faster.
Make full use of the hip extensor muscle to extend the work of the calf
Be conscious of your pull through, whip the leg forward with the hip flexor
Think leg speed as you tear down the slope.
Work your hamstring muscles to speed the leg through; bring the lower
leg closer to your butt than you normally do.
Run perpendicular to the slope.
Leaning forward can strain the gluteal and hamstrings muscles.
Leaning back puts pressure on the back and hip flexors;
you'll be setting up a breaking action, instead of a flowing, rhythmic
biomechanically sound running style.
Don't run so fast that your butt muscles hurt. The first few sessions must be easy ones to get used to faster legspeed, or an extended stride.
Intermediate downhil running
200-400 meter efforts. Short intervals.
Modest numbers to begin--about two thirds short normal short interval session--because you'll be doing them faster. You will be close to mile race pace while putting in 2 mile race pace effort.
Think about your running biomechanics. Sprinting downhill with arms flying all over the place will not make you a more economical runner.
Push the arms back on each stride, allow them to move straight forward to their natural height; don't go grasping for handfulls of air. Hands generally don't need to go across the chest...unless that is a perfect running form for your body type. Straight back and forward to a modest height is best. The arms need to balance the legs: Think RELAX.
Land softly...midfoot, and roll rapidly off the toes after the support phase.
Advanced downhill training
After three or four sessions of short efforts, it will be time to move on to:
Long Repetitions at VO2 max. 800 to 1200 meter intervals at 2 mile pace.
Actually, you can do 2 mile pace at 5k effort levels; or 10k pace at 15k pace effort.
Running at 2 mile pace will be easier than on the flat. You've prepared for it, so enjoy flight during your training. Your heart and lungs will be at 5k pace, but the hip flexors and extensors get the benefit from two mile pace. Do one out of four of your long rep sessions downhill, and track reps at 5k pace will seem easier...because you have the legspeed.
I always try to think 'run like Michael Johnson' when going downhill - don't lean forward or back too far, stay upright and relaxed
Adjusting to hills takes time: I've just moved from the flat of central London to the hills of the far reaches of north London and I'm really noticing the difference! We live right on one of the area's highest points so my last kilometre or so is always steeply uphill!
Downhill running is nice in contrast. You have to be careful not to go too hard and leave no energy for coming back up; also make sure there is enough room at the front of your running shoes as downhill running can bruise your toes otherwise (make sure nails are short too). Try to run upright rather than leaning back too much; don't lean forward either!
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