12

Tips and tricks for better downhill running (Read 331 times)

fimmx


    Ran (ha!) the Rodeo Beach 20k yesterday. Gorgeous weather on the Marin Headlands, my first ever trail run here, the views are worth every hurt!

     

    But - I suck at downhills! This is not news to me, but it was brought home over and over again every time I hit a downhill and the people I'd painstakingly passed by power walking the uphills effortlessly passed me by.

     

    I'm scared of wiping out. My second toe is longer than my big toe and the two toe tips *hurt* on trying to go faster downhill. I just feel unbalanced looking down that slope. Mostly I'm just afraid of wiping out and going head over heels down the hillside and breaking every bone possible and being in excruciating pain caught in thorny bushes out of sight of anyone passing by and being in agony for ever and ever and not being found and my family never knowing what happened to me.... OK. Deep breath.

     

    Dramatics aside, I would love to see your suggestions on how to get better at downhills. I would love to see reassurance that this is something one can train for.

     

    Thanks!


    jules2

      Ride a mountain bike downhill after that running down will be less scary!

      if it's off road look well ahead to plan your route and use your arms for balance

      on the road I'm amazed how many people slow down using their feet I just relax look forward to the break and throw myself down

      ive lost count of the times I've cracked someone in a race by dropping them going downhill

      if the worst happens and you wipe out just remember scars add character!

      Old age is when you move from illegal to prescribed drugs.


      Not dead. Yet.

        Increase your turnover.  Lots of quick, short steps.  Don't brake yourself (much) and just kind of let gravity do the work.  You just have to make sure to keep your feet under your body and keep your balance.  For technical parts, you need to watch every footfall and make sure you are picking a good landing spot that will support you and get you onto the next.

         

        The big one is to have no fear.  If you are afraid, you'll just keep putting on the brakes.  Falling won't be as bad as you think.  You have your arms that can get out in front and cushion your fall.

         

        Start with gradual, even declines, then once you build up some confidence, move on to steeper, more technical ones.  Once you get into the groove it's really fun; almost like downhill skiing or mountain biking to a degree.

        How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

        jamezilla


        Follower of Forrest

          Practice taking a few fast steps and then pulling up.  That will get you some confidence that you can stop yourself and you're not out of control.  Also, the bottom of the hill is a nice place to practice "pushing the clutch in" and letting the hill take you.

           

          When it comes right down to it, fast descending is mostly getting over the fear.  Try to relax, concentrate on reading the trail, keep your steps light and quick, and enjoy the free speed.

           

          Not sure what the Morton's Toe (longer 2nd toe) has to do with it, unless you are braking hard and your toes are all the way in the front of your shoe.  I try to think of my quads as the brakes when going down a hill...not my feet.  That might mean you are taking too long of strides.

          6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi

           

          A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man


           

            Increase your turnover.  Lots of quick, short steps.  Don't brake yourself (much) and just kind of let gravity do the work.  You just have to make sure to keep your feet under your body and keep your balance.  For technical parts, you need to watch every footfall and make sure you are picking a good landing spot that will support you and get you onto the next.

             

            The big one is to have no fear.  If you are afraid, you'll just keep putting on the brakes.  Falling won't be as bad as you think.  You have your arms that can get out in front and cushion your fall.

             

            Start with gradual, even declines, then once you build up some confidence, move on to steeper, more technical ones.  Once you get into the groove it's really fun; almost like downhill skiing or mountain biking to a degree.

             

            I only do this on REALLY steep downhills because that's the only way to run down some of them.  On a more gentle downslope I actually stretch out my stride just a little bit and let my legs 'go'.  I agree that it's mostly about having confidence on a trail downhill.  I'm a mountain biker as well, and as someone else previously posted, running down trails seems like nothing once you've done some technical mountain bike descents.  Since confidence is such a big part of trail downhilling you have to get in lots of practice, even walking the technical downhills on your training runs will help.

             

            PS - I also have the Mornon's toe thing but never thought it affected me at all.


            Ostrich runner

              I also have Morton's toe. Anyhow, if your shoes don't fit well, you can toe jam. That hurts worse if you have Morton's toe. Also, if your toenails are too long, it can create problems.

              http://www.runningahead.com/groups/Indy/forum

              sport jester


              Biomimeticist

                The trick to running downhill is no different than learning to run fast on a track; which means learning how to run with an intoed foot position.

                Experts said the world is flat

                Experts said that man would never fly

                Experts said we'd never go to the moon

                 

                Name me one of those "experts"...

                 

                History never remembers the name of experts; just the innovators who had the guts to challenge and prove the "experts" wrong

                SillyC


                  I'm a really fast downhill runner! There's two really important things - balance and avoiding braking with your feet and quads.  For the latter, super fast turnover as others have suggested.  For balance, I have a few tips.  First, I adjust where I'm looking, and gaze farther ahead than I normally would when running - just like when you're driving a car on the highway versus in town.  I widen my stance a bit, and then I pop my elbows out further away from my body.


                  Latent Runner

                    I'm a really fast downhill runner! There's two really important things - balance and avoiding braking with your feet and quads.  For the latter, super fast turnover as others have suggested.  For balance, I have a few tips.  First, I adjust where I'm looking, and gaze farther ahead than I normally would when running - just like when you're driving a car on the highway versus in town.  I widen my stance a bit, and then I pop my elbows out further away from my body.

                     

                    Hmmm, how do you avoid braking with the feet/quads when the hill is so long and steep your two options are to crash due to going too fast, or slow down and trash the quads?  I'm not talking about normal "hills", I'm thinking the graded slopes I encountered during RTB-NH earlier this year.

                    Fat old man PRs:

                    • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
                    • 2-mile: 13:49
                    • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
                    • 5-Mile: 37:24
                    • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
                    • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
                    • Half Marathon: 1:42:13

                      For the record;

                      My worst-ever running injury was a stress-fracture in my hip, initially caused by racing another runner down a very steep paved hill on a training run. And then continuing to run through the slight to moderate hip pain for a couple weeks. And then racing my 12K goal race for the year. The fracture suddenly got a lot worse about 5 miles in to the 7.46 mile race, on a big downhill.  My running season ended there, or actually after I limped the remaining distance in to the finished.

                      SillyC


                         

                        Hmmm, how do you avoid braking with the feet/quads when the hill is so long and steep your two options are to crash due to going too fast, or slow down and trash the quads?  I'm not talking about normal "hills", I'm thinking the graded slopes I encountered during RTB-NH earlier this year.

                         

                        Better balance, and thinking like a skier?  I train a lot during the summer at a ski resort - so I bomb down ski slopes.  I've bit it plenty of times, but usually tripping on a root or slipping in a stream or something.  Never flying downhill.


                        Latent Runner

                           

                          Better balance, and thinking like a skier?  I train a lot during the summer at a ski resort - so I bomb down ski slopes.  I've bit it plenty of times, but usually tripping on a root or slipping in a stream or something.  Never flying downhill.

                           

                          Well, over the years of doing fool-hardy things I've managed to break both legs, partially tear off a foot, break my collar bone, and push my right shoulder so far out of its socket it was over near my sternum.  Now at 56 I've learned a little caution at least in part because I've discovered I don't heal as fast as I did when I was young.

                          Fat old man PRs:

                          • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
                          • 2-mile: 13:49
                          • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
                          • 5-Mile: 37:24
                          • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
                          • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
                          • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
                          JimR


                            Definitely elbows out to help with balance, keep your mind 2 steps ahead so you can land properly in prep for the next step.  Let yourself pick it up when the trail allows, but it should always be a controlled descent.

                             

                            And, be mindful of what's up, not just down, or else you may find yourself floored by an overhanging branch.

                              People get better at running downhill by running downhill. Thinking about all the things you should be thinking about in order to run down the hill fast is probably not very helpful.

                               

                              You should be concentrating on running down the damn hill.

                                +1, +1, +1.

                                 

                                We could all benefit from more practice and less theory.

                                 

                                People get better at running downhill by running downhill. Thinking about all the things you should be thinking about in order to run down the hill fast is probably not very helpful.

                                 

                                You should be concentrating on running down the damn hill.

                                "When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." 
                                Emil Zatopek

                                12