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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've recently read (again) that the key to downhill running is to change your form a little bit and protect your legs from the pounding. The trick was to lean forward, hunch over a bit and have a quick enough turnover to prevent landing shock.<br><br>
I tried it again today during my 12 mile jaunt in the snowy cold and I learned a couple things...<br><br>
-I cannot run like a question mark. Maybe an exclamation point that's a little bit bent, but that's as close as I get.<br><br>
-Running downhill and leaning into the hill causes you to pick up speed- a lot! You really have to quicken the turnover - a lot!<br><br>
-Landing on the balls of my feet seemed to occur a lot more than when I run fast on the flat.<br><br>
-My legs seemed lift a lot higher in the back and the legs exend more forward. (When I run uphill, I run straighter, take smaller steps and lift my legs high.)<br><br><br>
So-what do people think about imitating a punctuation mark? (or am I the only one who does these silly things?) I'm going to have to find that book by Tom Miller-'Programmed to Run'. Joe Henderson quotes him as suggesting this 'question mark' form...
 

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For me, the trick is to lean from the hips, not the waist. Just like a golf stance. And then I think about quick, short steps, just like the ropes we used to run in football practice in high school.<br><br>
So I guess I don't think about punctuation marks, but about other sports!
 

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Dale,<br><br>
I consider myself a downhill runner. Fairly lightweight, efficient stride, and a bad uphill runner :^)<br><br>
I never think of body position when running downhill. I guess I could. But I search for that magic speed, which is different for every grade, that allows for that combination of low effort, good speed, low impact, stability, and passing people. Elbows out a bit, always heels first, but rolling the foot strike so quiet, high cadence. I dunno, but I know it when I find it.<br><br>
CAigr
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Lab/Pro-<br>
I hear what you're saying. I usually don't think about these things. I try to simply run 'efficiently'. I always go fast on the downs and find myself passing a lot of people. It's tricky trying to lessen the landing shock, though. Keeping my knees bent a little bit and keeping a very fast turnover felt like I was flying. I'm sure it beat up my legs a bit, though. (both the mileage and the hills...).<br><br>
I've got a very long way to go to get into reasonaable shape.<br><br>
--------------------------------------------------------------<br><br>
Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iime ain't on my side....
 

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I'm not good at flying downhill with wild abandon, but I purposefully focus on a very fast, light turnover ("fast little feet"<img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif">. As a midpacker, I pass LOTS of people this way, plus I save my quads for later on in the race when it flattens out.
 

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Yeah....well, I look for that magical point where I am not pounding the ground and not falling over (just slightly bent forward)....seriously...hehe<br><br>
Then I try to go ALMOST as fast as the hill dictates..I want to take advantage of the hill....but no waste myself....<br><br>
Tim,<br>
Ardmore, OK.
 

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Tuck your butt under and bend your knees more. If you were here I would demonstrate. (or push/pull you into position) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy">
 

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Hi Dtoce! Sounds like a good way to readjust the face. I am thinking of that slight imbalance while tripping over a root or rock. My coach in SLC helped me a bit on that and suggested a slight knee bend while not extenting to far ahead. The body should be balanced, my tendancy is to lean slightly back on downhills so when i correct, my balance seems forward but is centered in reality. I think it would be a good idea to have someone watch you or perhaps even video your downhill form. My biggest problem is starting on a downhill and it is always best for me to run some distance uphill prior to a steep downhill. This is why i nearly always choose a trail that does just that. I think another thing that helps is to never look at my feet or just ahead or even think about what I am doing once commited. Usually look 15 to 25 feet ahead and for some reason my feet are always where they are supposed to be. If properly balanced on occassion there is a certain thrill involved, where the surface falls away faster than I am falling...getting air. I love that!<br><br>
Larry
 

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I am curious to know how many people run on the balls of their feet while running downhill, which you cite as occurring more frequently than when you run on the flat. That statement surprised me. Most people running downhill run heel to toe I would think. Can you elaborate on that? Spareribs
 

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Ribs that is an interesting point. I had to go out just now and run down the hill in front of my house to remember what I was doing. It's Ball-Heel downhill, if I land on my heel I get foot slap. Perhaps we should take a pole on this. Larry
 

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The fastest punctuation form is the period. It allows you to just roll down the hill with no impact on the legs. The key is keeping a tight ball with head tucked..<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><br><br>
Seriously, I try to lean forward at the hips and keep elbows back for counter balance and get as close to 90 deg with the road as I can so the stride will approach that of level surface. Stay relaxed but not looose since you want the muscles in the feet to absorb the shock not the PF. Fast cadence too to prevent being airborne and landing hard on the feet. DO NOT STRDE OUT. Keep the stride short to avoid the braking.<br><br>
Why not run fast downhill since you can go really fast with a low HR. I agree with Pro.. you "Feel" it when it is right. I run more like the exclamation point bent at the dot.<br><br>
Steve
 

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To answer your question Spareribs, I definitely run on the balls of my feet when running downhill. For me, to do so otherwise causes over-striding and the inability to remain perpendicular to the hill slope. It's part of the "quick little feet" that Econo mentioned.
 

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I generally suck at running downhill, but I've gotten a little better by doing what is a staple trailrunner workout (from others I've talked to.)<br><br>
Find a decent hill, preferably at least 500' elevation gain.<br><br>
Walk up, run hard back down, repeat until you're tired.<br><br>
The key thing for me is getting so I can be fast and still have good footwork. Most of the trails I run are moderately technical and at speed I struggle to hit every step right and avoid rolling an ankle or going splat. I can generally manage to do this well for awhile, but after I get tired my mental focus fades. In long races I definitely see that people who can maintain the fast downhill speeds late in the race tend to do well.<br><br>
But since a lot of this is nimbleness-when-exhausted and maintaining a sharp mental focus when you are really too tired to care anymore, I don't know any solution except to practice.<br><br>
And if it matters, I'm generally a forefoot striker on all terrain.
 

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That interests me. I am guessing that most people probably use the same foot strike running down a hill that they would use on a level surface. If I ever get to run again I will have to see what I do. Spareribs
 
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If you land on the heels 1) you are over striding and are therefore inefficient and acts like a brake 2) the landing shock of the heel strikers is fully absorbed by the quads and on longer downs, miles in length, the quads will really take a beating. Lean slightly down the hill, keep shoulders relax (I put my arms out slightly from the body to aid in balance) and keep the butt tucked underneath to align the center of gravity. Running down hills can be unnerving at first, especially on trails (but after hitting a tree or 2, or running off a cliff, you adjust)<br><br>
Personally, I try not to think about cause that's when I get into trouble<br><br>
--mike
 

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On longer steeper downhills or on trail runs I find my body position mimicing that of a skiier. In teaching telemark skiing we call it the active position and it really is somewhat of a question mark. With the butt tucked the kness bent and the chest curled forward. I land on the balls of my feet and tend to step lightly and actively rather than landing hard. Like in skiing I find that despite the fact that the sensation is that you are faster and more out of control the result is the opposite and you are more controlled. Leaning back, extending the legs forward may feel like you are controlling the brakes but it is less balanced and controlled. Lack of commitment to the hill resuklts in more slips than committing and flowing with the hill.<br><br>
my .5 penny for what it's worth,<br>
cfli
 

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After having people fly by me downhill during my last two ultras, I decided to really focus on learning how to run them correctly. For me, I saw improvement by 1. Mentally throwing myself downhill like I would when skiing, 2. Developing a "sewing machine" like cadence, with feet spread slightly farther apart than when on the flats, 3. Keeping my arms wide and balancing, not stuck against my sides, and 4. Maintaining a "softly focused" eye 20 feet or so down the trail. In other words "be the hill".<br><br>
I can't say I've mastered it yet, but I have improved my speed and balance. I do downhill drills twice a week. One of those nights I am actually able to do my downhill repeats in the dark, on a trail without a headlamp and not fall, so I am getting better.<br><br>
-Dove
 

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Great discussion ... Mike's insights struck home for me. Nice stuff!<br><br>
Question ... I understand that the first 8-9 miles in Boston is primarily "downhill". How do you control speed and stride length (and thus stress on quads) on such long, gradual downhills? Logic says "leaning slightly downhill" would result in increased speed and stride length. Where does maintaining your marathon pace come into play? Should you plan on banking time on downhills or sticking to MP?<br>
PJ
 
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