Although the idea of running downhill is so dang appealing—free speed!—the reality doesn’t always measure up, especially when you hit flat ground and your quads groan with fatigue. A few tips on descending properly:
1. Quick, Fast Feet
Because gravity is gifting you with speed, it’s easy to gobble up the hill with long, extended strides. Don’t take the bait: keep your cadence high—visualize that your feet are landing underneath you, not in front of you—and your footsteps light. Your quads will thank you for the rest of the run.
2. Create a Strong Frame
On especially steep or long downhills, it’s helpful to create a stable frame with your core (lower back, abs, hips); you’ll have more control over your limbs and feel less like a runaway semi. To engage your core, pretend like somebody’s about to punch you in the gut. Maintain that clinched feeling for the full decline. (Hard to do? Time to do some planks post-run.)
3. Lean In
Don’t let your center of gravity get too far behind you (hello, aching quads and lower back!) or in front of you (hello, face plant!). Instead, lean slightly forward from your ankles to maximize gravity’s benefits while minimizing the corresponding muscular impact. And speaking of face plants, the same principles used in skiing and mountain biking apply to running: Look where you want to go. If you look down, you’ll likely fall down.
Don’t forget to check out our tips for running uphill too!