After 20 or so years of running, I’m pretty sure my weakness is running downhill. I do okay on flat sections and I run well uphill, but I still seem to struggle going downhill. Particularly in ultras, my quads are shot after 30 miles or so, and I have trouble staying on my feet.
To remedy this, I’ve been studying and practicing. I picked up a copy of Relentless Forward Progress (by Bryon Powell) because there is a section on downhill running. I’ve also been watching tape – athletes in other sports watch tons of tape – so why not runners?!
Sure, these are some of the best descenders there are. Certainly, I don’t expect to prance down the side of a mountain like Kilian Jornet anytime soon. However, I think there are lessons to be learned. Balance. Body position. Arm positions. Turnover. Footstrike angles. There is lots of info.
Ultrarunner Dave Mackey suggests looking about ten to fifteen feet ahead, taking short strides, leaning forward and keeping your elbows wide (for balance).
Of course, practice is also required. Bryon Powell suggests running three or four “focused sessions” in the two months before a race. He suggests starting with 30 minutes of combined descent time and working up to an hour.
I’ve been practicing and I’m hoping it is reflected in my next race!
What are your running strengths and weaknesses?
Are you doing anything to improve your weak areas?