Run ex­pert

H&F run­ning coach Sam Mur­phy an­swers your train­ing ques­tions

Health & Fitness - - Welcome -

What’s the most ef­fi­cient way to run down­hill?

Q What’s the best way to run down­hill? I’m not sure I’m do­ing it as ef­fi­ciently as I could.

A To run down­hill well, you need to let grav­ity be your friend. That way, the nat­u­ral in­crease in speed you ex­pe­ri­ence from the gra­di­ent comes at no ad­di­tional en­ergy ‘cost’ and has you ca­reer­ing past your op­po­nents! One study found run­ning down a 5.8 º slope in­creased run­ners’ speed by seven per cent – though on steeper hills, the pace boost di­min­ished. Why? Be­cause once the gra­di­ent in the study was too steep, the run­ners’ po­ten­tial speed gains were off­set by a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in tech­nique.

You can tweak your tech­nique, how­ever. Two of the most com­mon er­rors are lean­ing back (so your cen­tre of grav­ity is be­hind your legs) and over­strid­ing (ex­tend­ing your legs too far ahead of your body). Both of th­ese ac­tions cre­ate a brak­ing force, caus­ing your stride to slow. Your brain is sub­con­sciously try­ing to main­tain con­trol over your fast­mov­ing limbs – but this brak­ing ac­tion will not only slow you down but put ex­tra force through your mus­cles and bones, lead­ing to in­creased post-run mus­cle sore­ness and the like­li­hood of stressed knees.

To fix th­ese form er­rors, think about keep­ing an up­right pos­ture and both short­en­ing and quick­en­ing your stride so that your foot strikes are swift and light. Vi­su­alise ‘flow­ing’ down the hill, keep­ing your eyes on the road or trail just ahead of you, not at the ground di­rectly in front of your feet, and try­ing to keep your shoul­ders and hands re­laxed.

Start by prac­tis­ing on a gen­tle down­hill. Af­ter you’re warmed up, run down for 100m at a brisk pace, stay­ing tall and keep­ing your legs ‘wheel­ing’ un­der­neath you, not reach­ing out ahead. Jog or walk back up the hill and re­peat four to six times. Progress to a steeper hill when you’re ready, and when you feel con­fi­dent enough, try dif­fer­ent ter­rains, such as grass and trail.

Your thighs and calves my well feel sore af­ter down­hill train­ing due to the ec­cen­tric mus­cle con­trac­tions (the mus­cles lengthen as they con­tract). A study found a re­duc­tion in mus­cle force af­ter a 6.5km down­hill trail run of 19 per cent in the thighs and 25 per cent in the calves. Your mus­cles will adapt with prac­tice and rep­e­ti­tion, though.

Make the most of grav­ity to give you a boost as you run down­hill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.