So, you’ve signed up for a downhill race. (Because running downhill is fun!) You can hit speeds you’d never otherwise hit on flat ground. However, running downhill can also beat up the body much more than flat or uphill running, so it’s important to take a few precautions. Adding specific elements to your training will not only ensure a fast and fun race day, but it’ll also allow you to walk normally a day (or two) after the race! Here are a few tips to train for your next downhill race:
If you’ve ever done a traditional hill workout (sprinting uphill, then jogging back down), downhill intervals are the same thing but upside down! You’re going to need a medium-sized hill that you can run down uninterrupted for 30-45 seconds.
Once you’ve selected your hill, warm up with 20 minutes of easy running – go slow and get that blood moving!
Your downhill workout will consist of 6 x 30 seconds of HARD downhill. Really pay attention to your leg turnover and make sure you’re not overstriding each step. Think about how you’d run if you were on a slippery surface; quick light steps are key! After each 30-second interval, walk back up the hill and start the next one immediately from the top. Repeat six times.
Finish off your workout with 20 minutes of easy running to cool down. Go slow to let your body recover and your heart rate drop.
After your run, be sure to stretch and use a foam roller to massage those muscles and start the recovery process. Adding this type of workout into your routine once every week or two can payoff big on race day.
Lower Body Exercises
Bodyweight exercises are your best friend while training for a downhill race. They don’t require any equipment or hills, and they’ll help build strong legs. Below are a few of our favorites with links to video instructions. Do these exercises a few times per week after your run to take your downhill running skills to the next level!
1. Lunge Compass
2. Single Leg Jump Downs
3. Single Leg Step Downs