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Practice Downhill Running And Prevent Injuries With These Tips

The Art Of Running Downhill

With the Boston Marathon less than two weeks away, it’s time to brush up on your downhill running skills. So many runners spend a lot of time training (and worrying) about the uphill portions of the Boston course and forget that the downhills can be real quad shredders.

Here are some tips on how to properly run the downhills of Boston (or any other race) and still be able to walk down the stairs the next day!

Proper Form

“The key is to have a slight forward lean,” elite runner and new mom Tina Muir once told me. “Think about peering over the edge of a cliff and staying in control.” That second part takes some practice, but the visualization is spot on for proper form when running downhill. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lean forward from your hips, not your shoulders
  • Use your arms for balance, placing them slightly away from your body (not tucked in, as they normally are)
  • Engage your core to further stabilize your body
  • Look down at the hill–not at your shoes

Practice

It may be a bit late in the game to properly practice downhill running for this year’s Boston Marathon, but you can incorporate some short, less steep inclines into your remaining taper days. Try it this way:

  • Find a hill with a 4- to 5-percent incline
  • Warm up well before starting your descents
  • Control your speed and take it as slow as possible for the first few reps, focusing on form
  • Walk (don’t run!) up the hill after each repeat
  • Video your descent (or enlist a friend to observe) so you can review your footstrike and body position

Now that you know the basics, you can better understand the mechanics behind the art of running downhill. Don’t overthink what your body will instinctively do; instead, know that there is a correct way to master those downhill portions and allow those quads live to run another day!

Related:

The Hidden Benefits Of Running Hills

What’s The Proper Way To Run Over Hills During Races?

An 8-Week Hill Training Plan To Make You A Faster Runner

Allie Burdick

Allie Burdick

Allie is a freelance writer, athlete and mom, but not in that order. Her work has appeared in Runner's World, Triathlon Magazine and ESPNW. On her blog, VITA Train for Life, she chronicles her life as a runner/triathlete and hopes her successes and failures help to motivate and inspire others, even the over-40 crowd she somehow found herself in! The rest of her time is spent raising her twin boys with her husband in the Northeast where they live a big life! See it all on Twitter and Instagram.