How to Improve Your Downhill Running
Running downhill can feel like you’re losing control of your body. Your speed combined with gravity pulling you down can make running downhill exhilarating (and scary).
First, you want to make sure you can see where you’re going. Nothing will end your run faster than stepping awkwardly on a rock and turning your ankle or eating dirt.
“You want to make sure you’re scanning the ground ahead of you for obstacles,” Canaday says. “I try to keep my gaze at least 10 or 15 feet in front of me so I know how to pick my line as I go down the trail.”
Once you know where you’re going, take light, short steps to get there.
Keeping your turnover quick and light makes running downhill more efficient and safer. An elongated stride means you’re in the air for longer, so each step hits the ground harder and you have less time to react to changes in the trail; a short stride reduces impact forces and gives you more time to dodge obstacles.
Like running uphill, you want to position your body over your toes—not your heels. Leaning backward adds additional braking forces and impact to your stride, and it puts too much stress on your quadriceps.
Instead, lean slightly forward or keep your body straight up relative to the trail to make yourself more efficient.