Tips to Run Downhill

By: Brian Elder

Last week we talked about hills and how you can run them with greater ease and efficiency. This week we are going to cover Many of you may be thinking: "I know how to run downhill. It's easy and the time when I can actually catch my breath!" While you may think you are able to run a downhill stretch, there are ways to do it properly to help shed some time off your next race. Here are just a few: 

  1. Practice. It seems simple yet this is potentially the most neglected aspect of running because it feels easy. Just because running downhill requires less effort, it does not mean that we are running them correctly or to the best of our ability. Practice is important especially if you are running a race with downhills and steep grades. 
  2. Don't Lean Back. One problem that people face with downhills is the exact opposite of running uphills. Runners sometimes tend to lean to far backwards when running downhill. This works against your body's forward momentum and slows the speed you could gain. Lean slightly forward and keep your strong core. 
  3. Slow Down. Another potential problem with running downhill in a race is that you might feel the need to run too fast. While this seems counter intuitive, if you pick up your pace too much that you tire out, it can throw off your pace and rhythm for the rest of the race. 
  4. Maintain Effort. If you want to keep from speeding up, it is best to focus more on your effort than on your pace. If you look at your GPS watch while running downhill, the pace will naturally speed up and this is not a bad thing. Focus on maintaining your effort level and allow the hill to carry you forward while you naturally increase speed. 
  5. Position your Feet. If you land on the heel of your foot while running downhill you place added stress on your shins and quadriceps which could lead to soreness and potentialinjury. If you land on the balls of your feet, your calves will undergo unnecessary stress. Position your feet at an angle close to that of the hill so that you stay on the ground as little as possible and run downhill more efficiently. 

Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.