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My last race was really hilly. Normally, I just try to hold steady during the downhill portions and push it a little on the uphills.

But, during my last race, I raced a guy that opened up on the downhills and with each down, he'd pull away from me a little bit more and he could hold his own up the uphills.

Are there any special techniques to running downhill AFAP without falling over? It sure seemed like an easy way to drop a couple of seconds off the split times.

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I increase my stride and lower my turnover just a bit. Gives me an increase in speed, but it's still well in control.
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I suppose it's just practice. I'm one of those guys that opens it up on downhills. Can't quote the source, but in race strategies, that's a common one. Keep in control on the uphills, but use the downhills to your advantage. I'd say holding 'steady' is really losing the opportunity to get the most out of the course. If there's a place to surge and drop somebody in a race, it's on a downhill.
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I increase my stride and lower my turnover just a bit. Gives me an increase in speed, but it's still well in control.
:1:

I suppose it's just practice. I'm one of those guys that opens it up on downhills. Can't quote the source, but in race strategies, that's a common one. Keep in control on the uphills, but use the downhills to your advantage. I'd say holding 'steady' is really losing the opportunity to get the most out of the course. If there's a place to surge and drop somebody in a race, it's on a downhill. :twocents:
:1: It definitely is Halloween month, as I keep agreeing with jrjo. 8O
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I too use the downhills to my advantage. This will sound silly but practice some downhills. I can't believe how much better at downhill running I've gotten in the last few months just by running them alot. Also I think ever since I've been able to keep a stride downhill instead of just clomping on down, it doesn't seem to wear out my knees and legs as bad either. Gravity used to control me, now I control gravity. :P

Talk to me after my first faceplant. I'm sure it will happen sooner or later.
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let me be the voice of dissent...

on downhills...in theory...you are to relax increase your leg turnover and keep a steady pace. A steady pace is the most efficient way to run. Work a little harder on the uphills, keeping your pace up, and relax a little on the downhills.

I worked with my cc runners on this...especially early in the race. If it's toward the finish it's not as big a deal. But speeding up too much, too early is a recipe for oxygen depletion later.

So...I disagree. I always pass people on uphills, and let 'em go on downhills. I usually pass a lot of them during the second half of a race.
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I keep my EFFORT the same. That's what determines steadiness, not pace. Steady pace does not mean steady effort.
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A steady pace is the most efficient way to run. Work a little harder on the uphills, keeping your pace up, and relax a little on the downhills.

I have to strongly disagree with this.A steady effort and not a steady pace is the most efficient way to run. You will not go into oxygen depletion because you ran fast with little effort on a downhill. Instead what kills people is going anaerobic because they feel like they need to hold pace up a hill. Now, as a practical matter, when running on very steep hills (>5%), it is essentially impossible to maintain totally even effort, nor is it completely advised for a variety of reasons. However, withing reason, even effort is the way to go. A competitive situation may also cause you to attack hills differently, but more races are won cresting the hill or running down than when going up.

A major mistake many people make is they waste effort trying to slow down going downhill. They overstride in an attempt to slow themselves down. Instead the idea is to use quick turnover to try to stay as smooth as possible and avoid pounding. The fast turnover tends to help balanced and in control while moving very quickly down a hill.
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I have to strongly disagree with this.A steady effort and not a steady pace is the most efficient way to run. You will not go into oxygen depletion because you ran fast with little effort on a downhill. Instead what kills people is going anaerobic because they feel like they need to hold pace up a hill. Now, as a practical matter, when running on very steep hills (>5%), it is essentially impossible to maintain totally even effort, nor is it completely advised for a variety of reasons. However, withing reason, even effort is the way to go. A competitive situation may also cause you to attack hills differently, but more races are won cresting the hill or running down than when going up.

A major mistake many people make is they waste effort trying to slow down going downhill. They overstride in an attempt to slow themselves down. Instead the idea is to use quick turnover to try to stay as smooth as possible and avoid pounding. The fast turnover tends to help balanced and in control while moving very quickly down a hill.

Who knew a steady pace was not the best way to run?

Sure means alot of changes in nearly every book I have ever read on the subject.

I did mention fast turnover too.

I also wonder why my cross country teams did so well on hilly courses, then....
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What you might be seeing with the cross country runners is that by running the downhills fast, they blow out their quads and struggle latter in the race. If you don't run smooth, downhills can wipe out a runner even more than the uphills. However, this has nothing to do with "oxygen depletion" or any other cardio-vascular effect. Instead it is muscular. If a runner learns to run efficiently and smoothly downhill, they can make up huge amounts of ground with no additional cardio-vascular effort. The key is staying smooth to save your legs in the process.

Lots of books and articles talk about an even pace being the best way to run, although they are almost always assuming flat ground, no wind etc.

At the risk of being obvious, let's take two identical runners with a max HR of 200. Your cardio-vascular system doesn't know anything about how fast you are going. All it knows is the effort you are putting in. This is affected by your pace, but also the footing, altitude, hills, weather, running efficiency, etc. So:

Runner A - Even pace
-------------------------
Flat ground - 8:00 pace = 160 HR (80%)
Up steep hill - 8:00 pace = 190 HR (95%)
Down steep hill - 8:00 pace = 130 (65%)

Runner B - Even Effort
--------------------------
Flat ground - 8:00 pace = 160 HR (80%)
Up steep hill - 10:00 pace = 160 HR (80%)
Down steep hill - 6:00 pace = 160 (80%)

I'm just making up numbers, so don't get caught up in the specifics of my example - I'm just trying to illustrate a point. Runner B stays just on the comfortable side of lactate threshold pace throughout the run. Runner A however, goes into oxygen debt and builds lactic acid in an attempt to hold pace with an increasing effort on the uphills. In actuality, coming down the hill after going anaerobic on the unhill will not completely "make up" for going anaerobic on the unhill.

Running an even pace on hills is the same as doing intervals on flat ground. This may have a tactical advantage in a competitive race, but it certainly isn't the best way to race a fast time.
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I also had to spend some time practicing running downhills. It isn't that I was slow or anything, it was just that other runners at my same level seemed to make up so much more time than me going downhill. ( I have this theory that tall people have a more difficult time trying not to brake when going down a hill. ) It took me some time to get comfortable with it, but a shorter, faster stride and forcing myself to be able to lean foward helped generate more speed.

Bob Glover has a good section on downhill running in his Competetive Runner's Handbook.
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I also had to spend some time practicing running downhills. It isn't that I was slow or anything, it was just that other runners at my same level seemed to make up so much more time than me going downhill. ( I have this theory that tall people have a more difficult time trying not to brake when going down a hill. ) It took me some time to get comfortable with it, but a shorter, faster stride and forcing myself to be able to lean foward helped generate more speed.

Bob Glover has a good section on downhill running in his Competetive Runner's Handbook.

I have this book, I need to check it out.

and coachcraig...I think I understand a little better. And you are right...Kids were overrunning the downhills and wearing themselves out, and my kids would blow by them the second half of the race.

Good thread, people. :thumbsup:
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