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Outdoors / The Pack / Events / Trail Running / Sean McFarlane

TIPS ON HOW TO RUN DOWN HILL

Sean McFarlane, Merrell Ambassador is preparing for Man vs Mountain. If you're getting involved in Man vs Mountatin or taking part in downhill running have a read of Sean's Top Ten tips when training.

"Increase your cadence, not our stride length, to make the  most of the free speed avialable from gravity"

If uphill running is primarily a test of endurance, downhill running demands speed, balance, agility and complete focus on the path ahead. So when you’ve reached the summit you are only halfway through the challenge, especially at an event like Outdoor Fitness’s forthcoming Man vs Mountain, where the run down from the top of Mount Snowdon to Llanberis arrives at a moment when serious fatigue is starting to set in. But if you hone your downhill technique, you can gain ‘free’ speed, protect your ankles, knees and hips, and gain places in the race. Here’s how...

Sean wearing the All Out Rush to get the gear have a look at the All Out range- http://www.merrell.com/UK/en-GB/Product.mvc.aspx/34048M/84284/Mens/All-Out-Rush?QueryBreadCrumb=Shoes-Mens

1 Don’t underestimate how quickly you will cool down on a mountain descent after a long, hard climb. The change in temperature is extreme. Personally I always put a jacket on for the descent, but some runners prefer to do just a hat and some gloves.

2 Before you begin the descent, check your rucksack is closed and tighten the straps so it doesn’t bounce around on your back. It needs to be tight, not restrictive – get used to running with it uphill and downhill before the event.

3 Keep your weight forward as you run downhill. It’s counter-intuitive because your natural instinct is to lean back, which is a braking action (it’s the same when you’re skiing). You need to lean forward a bit and keep your torso over your hips and ankles.

4 You need to be constantly looking at the terrain and trying to ‘dance’ around obstacles. Be prepared for what is coming and pick your line carefully, as you would when mountain biking.

5 Get a feel for the type of terrain underfoot. If conditions are dry and the surface is loose then the stones are going to move, but if the stones are damp or wet they might well stick.

6 Quite often the track just to the side of the built path is best, grassy sheep trods being easier and softer to run on.

7 If you have a heel-strike running gait, take care that you don’t catch your toes on the rocks. This is less of a problem for forefoot strikers.

8 It’s always a balance deciding how much you should zig-zag down a path to avoid rocks. Some runners batter straight down, but this is tough on your muscles – and if you stumble you are going to fall onto something hard!

9 The top runners have ‘soft’ feet – they are not in touch with the ground for very long, which is far less tiring. If you land heavy it feels like you’re braking with every step, sending jolts through your legs.

10 Most runners shorten their stride going downhill to dodge obstacles, especially if the terrain is technical. Increase your cadence, not your stride length, to make the most of the free speed available from gravity. If it’s a long, grassy descent, you can lengthen your stride.

11 Try to relax your arms so they hang like dead weights by your side. When running downhill your arms are far more important for balance than for powering ahead. More and more runners are now even using poles for balance on longer descents.

12 Don’t try to eat or drink while you’re running downhill. Few descents are long enough to demand refuelling, and it’s not worth endangering your balance. If you do need to take on energy or fluids, stop.

13 Avoid feeling pressure to descend faster than you’re comfortable with. Forget those who charge downhill and stay in control of your speed. Everyone finds this part of a race tough.

Britain’s toughest outdoor event pits your fitness against the wild challenge posed by running up Mount Snowdon and then back down again to face a series of natural obstacles. These include the Merrell Vertical Kilometre, an abseil and an open-water swim. It’s an epic event and you’ll feel exhausted and elated as you cross the line, having raced. Find out more on the event- http://www.merrell.com/UK/en/ManVsMountain

 

25/06/2014
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