trail running downhill


Learning to run downhill is like learning to dance.💃💃💃

  • When you start out, you're like a 1st grader plagued by pimples and afraid of not making a fool of yourself. However, with time and if you want it, you can become that recent graduate with honors who rubs shoulders with the best.😉

  • Like dancing, running downhill requires you to engage, relax, and clear your mind. Any trail runner can learn what to do, if you let them. The descents are not that difficult, but they do require practice. Good downhill running starts with three rules of thumb, which you can use to gain comfort on any terrain. ⚖

1. Take short steps if you don't want to "kiss" the ground.💋💋

On the downhills, runners tend to use gravity and open their stride, bounding down the trail with heavy stomps. That's a bad approach for two reasons.

First, a longer stride gives you less opportunity to course correct as you go. Each footfall that lands in front of your body is a risk, because a greater percentage of your weight is supported by that footfall. If you misstep with a stumble step, you'll likely taste the dirt before you have a chance to say, "Wow."

  • With short strides, each step involves less impact force and therefore gives you the opportunity to adapt as you go. Take one wrong step and you may already be at the next step. Sometimes the best downhillers are actually stumble control specialists, capable of taking a misstep and constantly recovering without a hitch.🐱‍🏍

Second, long downhill steps increase eccentric muscle contractions, which can lead to pain later on. Eccentric contractions are the controlled lengthening of the muscle under tension. Imagine your leg extended in front of you. Upon landing, the knee will bend, causing eccentric contractions and associated muscle damage. You are saturating the muscle, breaking many fibers and that is paid for in the following kilometers.⚠⚠

  • Shorter strides will still cause some eccentric contractions, but since the muscles are not under as much load with each stride, the pain the next day will be less.

2. Very important a correct posture.

  • Like when you're walking and you run into a guy you like 👌 kidding... what you have to try to do is keep your feet below your center of gravity, instead of leaning too far forward or backward. If you throw your body forward excessively, your momentum will limit your ability to adjust to the terrain as you go. Carrying too much backwards is not the best either, your leg will land in front of your point of gravity causing muscle contractions and problems with your stride. Yes, we know, it's not easy, but if you want to go how you should pay attention to your posture or you'll end up "fried".

  • At the same time, focus on a relaxed knee drive, lifting your feet off the knee, rather than back, the trick is to bring your butt down and flex slightly, you have to flow. That will help you avoid kicking up rocks and contribute to a quick and smooth stride.💦

3. Relax and let it flow.

  • People sometimes describe a good downhill run as making love to the trail. Others treat the downhill race like a job interview. You don't have to come so high or so low either 😂.

  • The good "descender" 👨 jumps over rocks, lets his arms rise above his head when that seems to help, and doesn't worry about a misstep or bad line.

  • The amateur "descend" 👶 goes stiffly seeing every rock a big obstacle and every steep section like a competitor. Are you going to relax or what? Trust yourself. This practice can be learned over time, like anything else in life.

    • If you relax and flow, you'll race downhill faster because you're not braking unnecessarily, but letting gravity do the work. This practice can be learned over time, just like anything else in life. If you consider yourself a bad downhill racer, let that thought slip away. Anyone can become an expert downhill runner if they work at it and avoid self-judgment. After all, gravity is a constant for everyone. Make him a constant companion, instead of a constant enemy.🏃‍♀️🤙🙌