Downhill running

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  • #16252

    Since you are (maybe because of the skimo background) focussing very much on the uphills and the training for it I was wondering;
    What are your thougts about downhill running and its training for it ?
    In my experiece (several 100 & 200 milers in the European Alps) its hammering numerous 3000ft technical descents in a race that is killing runners, while they are still capable to do a steady uphill.
    How do you see this in preparation for long races, especially if you have limited acces to mountains ?

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #16259


    Downhill running (and skiing) present special training challenges for mountain athletes. There is a specific type of strength required to be successful on long events with lots of descent. The main quality needed for both these is muscular endurance. Sounds familiar right. Thats also what is needed to run or ski up hill fast for a long time too. But the ME we are speaking of for down hill is needed in muscle fibers that are higher force/faster twitch fibers than you are using when going up hill. It is hard to recruit these FT fibers because the loads have to be very high.

    The muscle damage that occurs in long fast descents will eventually cause many runners (and skiers) to slow even on the uphill due the release some nasties into the blood. It is not as obvious on the uphills because the runners revert their very well trained pool of Slow Twitch fibers once on the climbs again.

    What we here at UA do to combat that is to employ a special strength (muscular endurance) training system to build that specific type of muscular endurance in those FT fibers. Luke Nelson credits his 8th place finish in the brutal Tor d’Geant race last September to these workouts. You can achieve similar gains with a lot of fast down hill running. But with much higher injury risk and much higher training loads. This is discussed on our recent strength training series. . That ME circuit described is one very close to what Luke used and also forms the base of the Mike Foote Big vert training plan

    We’ve found this to be super effective with some of the negative side effects of lots of fast down hill running.


    Janzad on #16269

    Thanks for your reply. I never related your ME workouts to downhill running and I never thouhgt about that fast/slow twist difference.
    For your info: I used to do specific downhill training on a 300 ft hill, (8-12 reps very fast, speedwalking uphill), once a week. Usefull for the easy handling of technical dowhills aswell.
    Though it never brougt me higher than 12th at the Tor des Geants. Thanks for showing me another interest of your ME workouts, I’ll defenitely use it.

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