Running Form: Downhill strides and intervals on soft 1-2 % grades, work hamstring muscles, gluteal muscles (hip extensors)--make running economic. By David Holt, author and 31 minute 10k runner. Running economy: Running Efficiency: Downhill running improves Running Biomechanics and

builds strength in the hamstring muscles as it pulls the lower leg through rapidly during the recovery phase; and strengthens the gluteal muscles as they extend the hip behind the runner.

Hip extensor muscles include the gluteus maximus muscle and gluteus
minimus muscle. Taken together, they are called the gluteal muscles, the
gluts, the butt muscles or the glutei muscles. Which makes looking them 
up the computer entertaining or frustrating depending the kind of day 
you're having.
The hip flexor muscles, the iliosoas group (Iliacus muscle and 
Psoas major muscle), with the biceps femoris muscle (or quadricep 
femoris muscle) one part of the quadriceps muscle, lift or flex the upper 
leg--they give us our knee-lift.

Take note of:

Running injury prevention: Preventing running injuries
Running injury treatments: Treating running injuries
Then proceed with:

Downhill Running to improve Running Economy.

The slope should be gentle--0ne to two percent is sufficient,
The surface should be soft:
Short grass; fairly even sand or dirt trails; an old railroad bed, or
treadmill running...if the treadmill has the ability.

The first session

Start with gentle strides just like you would any other form of training.
As you loosen up, push off the calf muscles to go faster.
Make full use of the hip extensor muscle to extend the work of the calf 
muscles.
Be conscious of your pull through, whip the leg forward with the hip flexor
muscles.
Think leg speed as you tear down the slope.
Work your hamstring muscles to speed the leg through; bring the lower
leg closer to your butt than you normally do.

Run perpendicular to the slope.

Leaning forward can strain the gluteal and hamstrings muscles.
Leaning back puts pressure on the back and hip flexors;
you'll be setting up a breaking action, instead of a flowing, rhythmic 
biomechanically sound running style.

Don't run so fast that your butt muscles hurt. The first few sessions must be easy ones to get used to faster legspeed, or an extended stride.

Intermediate downhil running

200-400 meter efforts. Short intervals.

Modest numbers to begin--about two thirds short normal short interval session--because you'll be doing them faster. You will be close to mile race pace while putting in 2 mile race pace effort.

Think about your running biomechanics. Sprinting downhill with arms flying all over the place will not make you a more economical runner.

Push the arms back on each stride, allow them to move straight forward to their natural height; don't go grasping for handfulls of air. Hands generally don't need to go across the chest...unless that is a perfect running form for your body type. Straight back and forward to a modest height is best. The arms need to balance the legs: Think RELAX.

Land softly...midfoot, and roll rapidly off the toes after the support phase.

Advanced downhill training

After three or four sessions of short efforts, it will be time to move on to:

Long Repetitions at VO2 max. 800 to 1200 meter intervals at 2 mile pace.

Actually, you can do 2 mile pace at 5k effort levels; or 10k pace at 15k pace effort.

Running at 2 mile pace will be easier than on the flat. You've prepared for it, so enjoy flight during your training. Your heart and lungs will be at 5k pace, but the hip flexors and extensors get the benefit from two mile pace. Do one out of four of your long rep sessions downhill, and track reps at 5k pace will seem easier...because you have the legspeed.

Running long reps down a gentle slope helped Sebastian Coe...they can help you also.

An additional bonus is the long rest. Unless you have been driven out to the top of a long grade, or run a four mile warmup to the top, most of you have to run back up the hill after each rep. My personal preference is to do one gentle uphill stride at the midpoint of the return journey, it helps to keep me loose, and the muscles warm.

What are the uses of downhill running.

Cruising a few strides is pleasant when feeling tired; you still get to run fast. But don't substitute downhills for the rest you may need.

Race preparation at all distances, because you can run faster than race pace.

Preparation for downhill race courses such as the St. George or Boston Marathon.

And finally, to work on running economy without being under as much physiological (ie lung busting) pressure as when running on the flat.

Pool running

No webpage for pool running. With pool running you have no ground contact, you can take those hip flexors and hip extensors through a huge range of motion, without the damage from an over-striding impact. Use water running wisely. Don't jump into a session the day before a key speedwork training run. Your hip flexors are likely to be tired after the first pool run, so save it for AFTER speed training.

And think about your arm motion; you can soon develop bad habits with your running form if you're doing lots of training in the wet stuff. Flotation device or no flotation device, go with what feels right for you.

Adapted from material in:


Buy 10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing Today! ">10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing, 180 pages, $17.95, by David Holt (plus 3,000 meters, 8K, 12K and 10 mile training advice and schedules for 20-100 miles per week) at Amazon.com
10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing">10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing: The Running Pyramid, at Barnesandnoble.com
Buy Running Dialogue Today! ">Running Dialogue, 280 pages, $17.95, by David Holt. Training for the 5K to the Marathon, for beginners and experienced runners, with extensive injury prevention and treatment advice, nutrition, cartoons and inspirational essays, at Amazon.com

Or send $17.95 per book to David Holt at PO Box 543, Goleta, CA 93116. (includes shipping and tax)


Sample Chapter from Running Dialogue...Chapter Five, Long Reps at Threshold Pace
Long runs-20 mile racing
Sarcomere--muscle contraction unit
VO2 max prediction and training
5k training and racing...the first of five pages for the 5k runner
10k training...mileage and strength and access to four other parts of 10k training
Half marathon training 3rd element...VO2 max and peaking
Recreational running: 5k racing on low mileage, 15-25 week preparation for race, or public safety fitness test
10 mile distance running world record essay
Links to more Distance Running, Training and Racing advice
E-MAIL ORDER TO DAVID HOLT
Buy Running Dialogue Today! ">Running Dialogue, 280 pages, $17.95, by David Holt. Training for the 5K to the Marathon, for beginners and experienced runners, with extensive injury prevention and treatment advice, nutrition, cartoons and inspirational essays, at Amazon.com
David Holt's second running book: 10K & 5K Running, Training and Racing.
Buy 10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing Today! ">10K & 5K Running, Training & Racing, 180 pages, $17.95, by David Holt (plus 3,000 meters, 8K, 12K and 10 mile training advice and schedules for 20-100 miles per week) at Amazon.com

Or send $17.95 per book to David Holt at PO Box 543, Goleta, CA 93116. (includes shipping and tax)

Copyright David Holt 2,000 Any part, or all of this training material may be quoted or reviewed...provided you acknowledge the source...Running Dialogue and other books by David Holt, this web page or www.runningbook.com, and contact me at holtrun@sprynet.com to let me know the material is being used or reviewed.