4 ways to run downhill faster
Running downhill is an excellent way to build strength and endurance. But to become a true downhill runner, you need to get outdoors, away from the road and treadmill. This running adventure will take you into the mountains where you'll be faced with steep grades, slopes of varying degrees, snow, mud and all sorts of terrain that might seem intimidating but is actually quite fun when you're having it! You'll walk away from this adventure knowing what's it like to tackle each of these obstacles because there is no better way to learn than by doing!
1. Run on various types of terrain.
Simulate the terrain you'll encounter on the running vacation week by enjoying a challenging hike or run on mud, snow, ice, steep grades, ski slopes, roots switchbacks and boulder fields.
Prepare yourself for the challenges of running downhill fast by climbing in steep terrain. The more time you spend ascending, the more accustomed your body will become to breathing hard, carrying extra weight up a hill, and maintaining balance when moving forward in an unstable environment.
Challenging terrain is an important element of many adventure racing events. It will force your body to adapt, resulting in strength and agility that will prepare you for tougher challenges.
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2. Simply try to go faster!
How can you get faster on the downhills? Speed up! It's not always easy to push yourself to run downhill quickly, especially on intimidating or technical hills. When we encounter steep hills, it is not a natural reaction to think "speed up!" but this is what I encourage you to do. Many runners develop the habit of only running downhill at a comfortable pace.
Take note of the pace you settle into as you begin running downhill. Then, about 100 meters away, decide an object, such as a tree, a rock or a hole. “How quickly can I run to this object?” You will be surprised by how much faster your legs will move than you think they can go.
Choose a trail with a continuous downhill or at least 5 short downhill sections spread throughout your run for this workout. Repeat this exercise 5 times throughout your journey.
3. Turn off your brain
In running, sometimes the best course is no course at all. Runners who are afraid of injury often over-think their races, slow down and don't run hard enough. If you want to run faster, pay more attention to your instincts, not your thoughts.
4. Relax Your Stride
Being relaxed allows you to descend more quickly and with less effort. Allow gravity to propel you forward. Avoid jerky movements and aggressive push-offs that waste energy. This is especially important in longer races where efficiency is essential. I'll go through a mental checklist from head to toe as I run downhill. Am I hunching my shoulders? Is it possible that I'm tensing my arms and hands? Do my hips feel tense? Do my feet relax or remain flexed after impact? Is that a smile or a frown? We are often unaware of how we tense up on downhills, so becoming more aware of your body's tendencies will help you relax.