Whenever a runner has a hilly race to run, the focus is on the uphill, not on running downhill. After all, that’s the hard part, right? Running uphill makes your heart pound, your lungs burn, and your legs scream. So you prepare for such a challenging event by uphill training, getting stronger and more adept at running up those hills. And the result is a more successful race.
Quite often, though, after finishing that hilly race, after killing those hills, you’ll find that your body aches, and may even have some slight injury, not due to the uphills, but because of all the running downhill.
Running downhill is a lot more difficult than it might seem at first glance. It’s easy right, after the physical and cardiovascular challenge of running uphill? It should be a breeze!
But running downhill causes muscles to lengthen or make eccentric contractions, which can cause microscopic tears and generate more force than when running uphill or on flat surfaces. And running at top speed, which is easier on the downhills, causes your feet to hit the ground harder, which in turn causes the muscles, bones, and joints to endure more pounding.
What can a runner do to prevent or minimize these negative effects? Simple. Just add some downhill running to your training plan.
Benefits of Running Downhill
- Running downhill will train your body to…run downhill.
- Downhill running can improve leg turnover.
- Downhill training can improve speed.
- Running downhill will cause the microtears mentioned above in training, which will repair themselves stronger than before and prepare your body to handle the downhills during race situations…