It isn't a secret that running downhill is easier. Most runners though use more energy than necessary and do not generate as much speed as they could. This chapter will show you how to generate that extra speed without
getting more fatigued.
To run succesfully downhill hill you must be able to run relaxed, but at the same time you must be focused enough to help your body generate extra speed. Most runners above the 3 hour mark tend to run back on their heals.This is like driving a car with the hand brake on. This action will cause them to actually runner much slower compared to runners who know the proper techinique to running downhill
Before we explain what to do this isn't something we want to practice too often. Running hard downhill fast is hard on the body and can lead to injuries. This is not something we want to do in our daily workouts. During workouts I NEVER push my downhill runs unless I am specifically working on some form exercises for an upcoming race. Even if I am on a designated hard hilly run I will push on the up hills but run very relaxed on the down hills. This is opposite of what I do on race day where I will push on the downhills and run slightly more relaxed on the uphills.
So once you master this trick do not use it for long portions of any workout!
Now running successfully downhill isn't a matter of simply running harder. The goal is to use the same amount or less energy as you would on flat ground but you want to generate significantly more speed. To do this we must observe what people normally do. It is best to use walking as an example. When people walk down hill people will keep their center of gravity at the same plane as a person walking on level ground. The reason for this is simple. If you lean forward you be apt to fall on your face.
Most runners while running downhill tend to keep their center of gravity in the same perpendicular plane as people that walk downhill. Now they still go faster simply because they slightly dropping in elevation and their is less resistance. However, by keeping their body posture so upright they are in effect apply the brakes.
So here is the trick. The goal is to shift one center of gravity slightly forward. For starters simply lean down the hill. Because you are running you do not have the same problem with the act of falling as one does while walking. This simple shift in weight allows you to run much faster.
However you have just created a several slight problems as you now be going much faster and are now out of the normal comfort zone.The first problem is overstriding. If you keep you same cadence your strides will keep getting longer and longer. This is something we want to avoid. Overstriding is actually a waste of energy and can also lead to injuries. It is very hard to run smooth with strides that are too long. The better techinique is increase your turnover in your legs.
To accomplish this we actually use our arms. The use amrs generates a greater turnover rate of your legs . The faster you turnover your arms the faster you legs will go. So let your arms dictate your tempo, not your legs.
To do this succesfully one must focus and use their concentration. . So lets stash those IPOds for a bit. I am all for distraction, but this is a time to concentrate fully on what you are doing.
The second probelm we have created is one of balance. I find one trick that helps is to hold your arms a bit further away from your body.
You do not need your arms to help generate speed only tempo.
Now in the previous paragraph I said the simple way to shift your center of gravity is to simply lean forward. If you have relatively little experience on running downhill’s fast I suggest you stick with this approach. However, what I would suggest, it is better to shift the center of gravity slightly forward from the hips. This is not an easy thing to do and It may be a harder thing to teach. The shift isn't much. maybe a degree or two forward.
Whereas it is an easy thing to lean forward at any point during a run. I think the shift with the hips takes place once you are already going downhill. This shift will allow for better balance. It also helps you keep proper form.
It is fairly easy to generate speed once you know this trick. The question is how do you know if you are doing this right? This is a delicate balance. Generate too much speed you may find your self going into oxygen debt.
. The two things we want to focus on is the arm movements. This is the most important time to focus on good form.
For more info go Running with your arms. The next thing to focus on is smoothness. This is accomplished by keeping the body as relaxed as possible. There is a natural inclination to tighten up simply because you are going faster. To keep thing smooth pay attention to your foot strike. . If you feet seem to be landing way in front, then you may be over striding. The feet should be landing just forward from your center of gravity.
For advance runners this is where some of your speed workouts will really pay off. You will be used to the higher turnover.
But remember to stay as relaxed as possible.
In workouts I have noticed is some slower runners have their set walk breaks. For example they may take a walk break every 5 mins or so. I have seen them running up the hills but walking on the downhills. In Base training I am indifferent. However once you get in the workout phase you need take advantage of every downhill. I really do not see the point of ever walking downhill. These are the muscles you will using most during the race. Take your rest on the flats.