It has taken me considerably longer to reconcile my negative feelings of running downhill with the power I feel running up the other side. Unlike biking down a descent where gravity pulls you along, running downhill is work and it's hard on your quads and knees. In my neck of the woods though, it's difficult to find a flat run so I've had to cultivate a love of running downhill. If you live amongst hills or are participating in a footrace anytime soon, I urge you to learn to love running downhill, too, or at least practice some good technique.
Here's one thing to change about how you approach running downhill.
- Don't lean back. Allow gravity to pull you downhill. Imagine that your body is perpendicular to the hill. Yep — lean your whole body forward, and don't break at the waist.
- Keep your stride small. Taking larger steps puts more pressure on your knees and makes your quads work even more to control the downward pull of gravity on your body. Keep your steps small and underneath you. This might feel weird at first, but certainly becomes easier with practice.
- Run on the balls of your feet. No matter where on your foot you usually make contact with the ground, running downhill striking midfoot or forefoot will keep you light and prevent you from overstriding and landing hard on your heel.
- Use your low abs. Running downhill is perfect time to recruit your low abs, if you tend to run with zero connection with your midsection. The low abs help support your torso, so the increased impact of running on a decline is not going just into your knees.
- Strength train. Single-leg squats are great for conditioning your legs to handle the eccentric strain of running downhill.