downhill-dynamics

I don’t know about you, but downhills are my downfall. While my legs are churning cartoonishly like Wile E. Coyote’s, some long-limbed Roadrunner comes buzzing past like I’m standing still. Meep-meep. Whoosh.Do you have this problem too?For an article I wrote for Running Times magazine several years ago, I interviewed three renowned coaches who leveled with me on downhill training: Doris Brown Heritage, men’s and women’s cross country and distance coach at Seattle Pacific University, and a five-time world cross-country champion (1967-71); Bob Sevene, coach of the Boston Athletic Association and former training partner of Bill Rodgers; and Bob Glover, director of educational programs for the New York Road Runners Club and author of several best-selling books on running.Sevene recounted one of the secrets of Rodgers’ running success: He was a downhill dynamo. En route to dominating the Boston Marathon with four victories between 1975 and 1980, Rodgers “would just flow down those hills early in the race and waste no energy,” Sevene recalled. “Billy taught himself to run hills, really focusing on the downhills, and it’s one of the reasons why he has such a tremendous history in Boston.”What did I learn from tapping the collective wisdom of Sevene, Heritage and Glover? That incorporating downhill training into a workout regimen can develop leg speed for runners of any ability and for races of any distance. That the efficiency derived from proper downhill-running technique can reduce your chances of injury when you race on hills.But I also learned that downhill training itself involves a greater risk of injury. That’s why many coaches advocate that you blend it with other forms of quality running, such as uphills, instead of devoting an entire training session to it.To minimize the chance of injury, find a gentle 100- to 150-yard slope—“a grade of about 7 percent is good,” Sevene says—on dirt or grass, like the edge of a golf course fairway.Here are the do’s and don’ts:Do’sLean forward, remembering to keep your back straight, but don’t bend at the waist. Concentrate on keeping your hips forward, over your lead leg. “Kenny Moore helped me a lot on downhills,” Heritage says of the 1972 Olympics marathon fourth-place finisher and esteemed running author. “He stressed that you’ve got to keep your body forward, just like when you’re going uphill. You don’t lean back and fight it.”Think quick feet. “Hit the ground as lightly as possible, pushing off the ball of the foot, and getting your feet off the ground as quickly as possible,” Glover says. “Let your arms swing out a little wider than usual to maintain balance and rhythm.”Relax—especially your neck, shoulders and arms. “And run comfortably,” says Heritage. “Always concentrate on letting yourself just flow down the hill.”To maximize its efficiency, practice downhill training regularly—maybe once a week. “At the beginning of the season, spend time on it, and return to it regularly,” advises Heritage.Don’tsDon’t brake. Resist the tendency to hold back. It slows you down and, more seriously, increases your risk of injury, especially to the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh.Don’t over-stride. “If you reach way out with your stride,” says Glover, “you’ll end up hitting the ground with your heel way out in front of your body, and that will send the shock all the way through your body.”Don’t try to run as fast as you can. “You’re already running fast because gravity is pulling you down the hill,” Sevene says. “Concentrate on technique.”How many downhills should you do in a Different types of Cialis for sale – genuine, generic, liquid, and natural! training session? Between five and 10, Sevene suggests. Heritage recommends that rather than jogging or walking back up the hill immediately after each repetition, you should make a loop out of it and include uphills or “roller-coaster hills.”The best time of year for downhill training depends on your racing goals, but Sevene touts autumn as the ideal season in which to practice it as a means of building and maintaining leg speed.If you follow these guidelines for developing you leg turnover through a sensible downhill training program, you could leave all those Roadrunners far behind.Meep-meep.

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