As runners, training ourselves on any terrain is critically important, you never know what the course could throw at you and it is your job to be prepared for any scenario. Many runners have a system for uphill & downhill running and if so that is amazing, if you don’t, today we will be looking at some awesome tips and giving you some tools to add to your arsenal for the next time you are dealing with this terrain.
Downhill Running Technique:
In a downhill stretch, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first of those things is where to look when you are running downhill. Now typically a beginner will look down at their feet when going downhill and concentrate so hard on each step that they can’t analyze the terrain that is coming toward you. The first tip is to train yourself to look 10-20 feet in advance at all times, this is dependent on how fast you are moving and also how steep the terrain you are on is. In doing this you will learn to notice the obstacles with your main vision and memorizing that terrain, while using your peripheral vision to help guide you over the rocks and terrain that you’ve seen.
Another tip is to ensure that you keep your cadence very high when running down hill. This means I am taking more and smaller steps rather than large strides. There are a couple reasons for this, first is that it keeps you low to the ground so that you have the soft knees and soft ankles.
Another reason is that if you were to slip coming downhill, especially if you are coming down quickly. You have your other foot on it’s way down to catch yourself and prevent you from getting injured. So remember, high tempo, high turnover and low to the ground for coming downhill.
Another thing to keep in mind that will help you be more efficient at running downhill is to keep your ankles and lower body flexible. When you wake up in the morning or throughout the day when you have some time, try doing ankle rolls and other stretches that will keep that ankle soft. This will save you a sprained ankle or two so remember to make time for stretching when you have a few extra minutes.
Uphill Running Technique:
The opposite of a high cadence would be a…….. you guessed it, low cadence with a long stride, and though this may be prescribed for training techniques, it is completely inefficient for racing. When you are doing this type of stride it requires a lot more power and a lot more strength, hence you cannot maintain that type of technique for a long period of time. Keep your cadence fast, your turnover fast and your stride short to be much more effective on the uphills.
Another tip when running uphills is something I like to call the “toe, heel, up” technique. When running, let your toe hit the ground first, followed by dropping down to your heel and then lifting back up onto your toe to push off again. This not only helps with taking efficient and energy conserving steps, but it allows your calf muscles to have a brief break, verses staying on your toes at all times you will find that your calf muscles never get a break and you’re more likely to burn out quicker.
To see some videos on stride technique on the uphill or downhill you can click the links below:
When you are training it is important to combine all of these things that we talk about here in the blog into one well oiled machine. As you progress and reach your personal goals, you can begin incorporating more of these little things that in the big picture will enhance your overall performance. Now get out there and charge some hills.