5 tips on how not to run downhill

IMG_5736I recently posted the above photo to my Instagram account from the Edale fell race back in June last year. This was a great, tough little fell race made extra tricky by an unseasonably cold downpour right at the finish that had us all huddling in the fete tents trying to stay dry.

The more I look at this picture, the more I see wrong with it! It is basically a lesson in everything not to do when running downhill!

For me, downhill technique always took a backseat compared to uphill or sprinting. To be honest, it felt like something that was easy enough; point yourself towards the bottom of the hill and off you go.  However, the more running I do the more I realise how much good technique can improve your speed and stability.  Using this horrendous photo as an example, this is what I have learnt.

  1. Do not land with straight legs. This could be damaging as the pressure on your knee joints is increased so always try to have a slight bend which should assist your descent and overall downhill springiness (technical term).
  2. Do not land with the heel first. Tempting as it maybe to stomp your way down the hill with a huge heel-strike this is actually like putting the brakes on with each step, instead practice a forefoot landing and keep the legs spinning like a windmill as you go to maintain speed.
  3. Do not be too tentative. A little faith and trust in your feet and where to place them will see your downhill confidence grow.
  4. Do not lean your torso back. Although it may feel counterintuitive, leaning forwards slightly actually gives your more momentum going down.
  5. Do not keep your arms tucked in. Wave those things around like a windmill if you need to (always being careful of fellow runners) but keeping them outstretched for balance is essential.

Finally, I appear to have my eyes closed in the above photo. Maybe I was feeling all zen-like and navigating with the power of my mind or via the scent of the burgers on the bbq at the fete below, however you navigate I definitely recommend eyes open at all times and looking at the terrain at least a couple of strides ahead of you.

Happy running x


7 Comments Add yours

  1. What shoe’s do you prefer to run in, in the fells?


    1. I’m an inov8 girl, x talon for the fell races but its personal preference 👍🏻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice, I’ve had a couple pairs myself! I run in the La Sportiva Helios SR’s these days.


  2. Fiona Alexander says:

    Just read this after competing in my 1st fell race of the year & strangely enough loving downhill more than uphill these days! Its amazing how many places you can gain on a fast downhill & so satisfying if they’re men!!


    1. Yes, some people go so tentatively downhill. They usually all catch me up at the next uphill though lol


  3. Martin Simms says:

    great tips ruth………now I must implement them!


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