Improve Running Downhill
Improving your downhill running technique is essential to becoming a better runner, particularly when it comes to racing. It’s essential that a runner can descend with confidence, whether it be on the road or on a trail. If you want to improve your technique and excel in your downhill running, we’re on hand with some top tips that are sure to help you along the way. From controlling your fear to nailing the technique, we’re covering all bases.
1. Don’t Overthink It
A lot of runners can hinder their performance because they worry about slipping, failing or injuring themselves, which is understandable since it might be hart to return to running after an injury. However, thinking like this is only going to slow you down. We know that it’s easier said than done, but as you reach the top of a hill and prepare to descend, the less your brain is engaged, the better. If you can rid yourself of those totally rational yet unlikely to happen fears, you will make it down the hill faster. Simply put, let your legs do the work and give your brain a rest.
2. Go For Longer Strides
A lot of runners will shorten their strides downhill; however, longer strides will help you make it down the hill faster. With that said, it can take dedication and some degree of bravery to alter your downhill stride, but, it’s worth it. Just remember that this isn’t something you can change about your technique overnight, so, stick at it, and you’ll soon reap the benefits.
3. Trust Your Footwear
Being able to trust the footwear you’ve got on plays a big part in eradicating any fear you might feel. It’s important that you’ve got a pair of running shoes that offer the support and grip you’ll need to make it downhill safely and quickly. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our handy guides, we cover everything from motion control running shoes to running shoes for shin splint and trail running shoes, so you can find the perfect pair for you.
4. Work On Building Up Your Strength
Leg strength is a crucial component of nailing your downhill technique. It’s important that you spend time and energy on building your strength. Squats can work wonders, as well as lunges and hip thrusts.
5. Lean Forwards
Leaning forward may mean you have slightly less control, however, it will get you down the hill faster. You don’t need to lean too far forward, just enough to speed you up a little, particularly on gradual descents. Leaning forward will increase the length of your strides as well as ensuring you don’t put the breaks on too much.
6. Look Ahead And Choose The Best Routes
Instead of focusing on the ground that is directly under your feet, it’s important that you look slightly ahead. Focusing on the steps to come will allow you to think about your route and choose the safest path to stay. For example, if you choose to avoid wet rocks in favor of grass, even though it might be a little off route, it can actually be much quicker and safer. With that said, it’s important that you don’t overthink it too much while being careful to avoid injury and unsafe routes.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
You should opt for repetition as you train. Find a gradual off-road hill and do continuous sprints down it so that you can master your technique. If you can, try and repeat the same hill up to 10 times, jogging back up each time. It’s important that you stretch well before and afterwards to avoid any injury.
8. Learn How To Adapt Your Technique To Suit The Terrain
It’s important that you understand that different terrains call for a different technique. For example, if you’re navigating wet rocks, you’ll want to stay light-footed and nimble whereas if you run in muddy conditions, you’ll need to dig your heels in a little more. If you’re preparing for a race, you should consider the ground beforehand and ensure that you train for whatever you’re going to encounter.
9. Engage Your Core
Engaging your core will ensure you keep good running posture, helping you to remain stable on even the most challenging terrains. What’s more, a stable core will ensure your hips and centre of gravity are kept forward as you make your way down the hill. If you work hard enough of stabilizing your core, with time you’ll be able to take on all sorts of trails as swiftly as you would on a solid road run.
There you have it, 9 of our top tips to help you to improve running downhill. Sure, none of these are quick fixes and will require both time and energy, but, if you’re serious about mastering your technique, you’ll thank us later if you give these a go.