alsoran runners Downhill running

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This is another kettle of fish! 

Many runners complain of sore knees, shot quads, hips and back pain when you mention downhill runningDownhill running can takes its toll on your body.  Ask any Comrades runner which race hurts more, the up run or the down run, and 90% will say the down run is worse for its effects on your body.

So how do I save my body from this pounding?  I train on downhills.  My “training ground” for hills is Black Hill (aka Glencairn expressway).  It is a fairly steep 3km climb to the top.  I run this at an easy pace.  By the time I get to the top my legs and body are pretty warmed up.  I then run back down the hill but I “up the pace” slightly so that I can feel myself “working”.  That’s basically it! 

While running I focus on my core stability, ie. tightening my core muscles.  This helps stabilize the hips which in turn keeps the quads and hammies in tow.  When I first start this downhill training I know all about it the next day.  I feel like I can hardly walk.  This is good!  I’ve woken up those muscles.  The more I practice downhill running, the better conditioned my quads become.  Strong quads equals happy knees!

Many runners tend to hold back and stiffen up when running downhill in an attempt to ‘soften the blow’.  This does nothing to help.  The idea is to run as ‘relaxed’ as possible while tightening your core muscles.  Lindsay Weight said to ‘trust gravity’ when downhill running, and lean slightly forward while running relaxed.  I often drop my arms completely while running downhill, this helps with relaxing the back, neck, shoulder and arm muscles.

Key words: Downhill running, Comrades Marathon, 
Internal links: up run, down run, Lindsay Weight, core stability,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website,



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za