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When Sir Isaac Newton outlined his legislation of gravity by stating that, “what goes up should come down,” he in all probability didn’t have working exercises in thoughts, however the identical fundamental precept applies when coaching for downhill races.
The mere point out of the phrase “hill” to a runner often spurs up ideas of unrelenting ascents that trigger muscular tissues to burn as gravity inevitably slows your tempo—which is why you sought out a downhill half-marathon or marathon within the first place to pursue a brand new private greatest.
However simply because there’s extra down than up on a race course doesn’t imply you possibly can merely coast down simple avenue and count on an automated PB. It’s necessary to arrange your physique for the pains of racing on an undulating course throughout a few of your key coaching classes akin to lengthy runs and tempo runs. Inserting a number of deliberate downhill exercises into your weekly routine will assist strengthen and toughen most of the muscular tissues and joints that get a free move while you’re working on flat floor or uphill.
“The principle profit from downhill working is the energy positive factors you may get from it,” says Steve Magness, efficiency coach, creator and lecturer. “That is extraordinarily useful in coaching for races the place you’ll spend lots of time working downhill as a result of now you gained’t have this weak hyperlink in your chain that hasn’t been accustomed to the pounding that it has to resist. Moreover, even for those who aren’t coaching for a race with downhill in it, a few of this coaching can function an harm prevention technique to strengthen that space.”
Proceed with warning when barreling down a decline, nevertheless. Operating downhill could require much less effort than getting in the other way, and chances are you’ll be inclined to hurry up since your turnover will naturally quicken, however take into account that happening is way more durable on the physique, notably the quads, hips and knees. One of many fundamental issues to be cautious of when working downhill is overstriding, which causes a braking impact, forcing you to land more durable in your heels and sending better affect forces by way of your physique. As an alternative, lean ahead on the hips, conserving your middle of gravity over your ft to keep away from overstriding. Land softly in your midfoot to take care of stability and cut back the shock to your shins, knees and hips.
“Downhill working places an unlimited eccentric load on each your quads and hamstrings, which is the explanation individuals are likely to get sore when doing an excessive amount of downhill working,” Magness says. “What occurs, although, is your physique adapts to this stress load by repairing the microtears within the muscle fiber and strengthening the tendons in order that they will stand up to that eccentric pressure sooner or later.”
So how do you turn out to be higher at working away from the highest of a hill? Gary Brimmer, the 1996 U.S. 50Okay path working champion suggests fastidiously and regularly sprinkling some key downhill working exercises into your coaching schedule. Schedule a number of of your key half-marathon and marathon exercises, akin to lengthy runs and tempo runs, on a internet downhill course so you possibly can simulate the situations that you simply’ll face on race day.
“We combine in downhill tempo efforts both on parts of the identical course or on a treadmill,” says Brimmer, whose athletes do particular downhill coaching solely when getting ready for both the 3M Austin Half Marathon or the Boston Marathon, each of which characteristic a drop in elevation from begin to end. “This helps the runners get used to working race tempo whereas going downhill and helps situation the quads for the pounding.”
When prepping for a brand new private greatest within the half-marathon or marathon, keep in mind: what goes up should come down. Follow working downhill earlier than your huge day and reap the rewards of Newton’s legislation of gravity.