What is my purpose for today’s training session?
If you are training for an upcoming running race, the title of this article should be a question you ask yourself prior to every training run. Many runners simply go out for a run several days per week without putting much thought into what they are trying to accomplish that day. Most runners know they should incorporate interval training and some speed work into their routine, but may have a difficult time doing it. For some, limited time may be the issue. For others, it is just easier to stick with doing the same thing every time they go out for a run. Having a reason for your training session will help you stay focused and lead to a stronger finish.
If you are running the Horsetooth Half Marathon or the Colorado Marathon, one of your purposes for one of your weekly runs should be improving your downhill running technique. Both races have lots of downhill running. The stress on our muscles and joints is greater running downhill than it is running on flat surfaces. Having good technique running downhill will help reduce stress leading to less fatigue and a better finish.
Running downhill when you are tired from running uphill will help improve your endurance. It can also help mentally prepare you for the suffering you might feel on race day. However, running downhill when you are fatigued is not the best time to work on your downhill running form. It will be much more difficult to concentrate on your form when you are tired.
A good way to train your downhill technique is to take a break and allow yourself to “catch your breath” and recover before running downhill. You will be able to focus more on your technique when you are less tired. Additionally, if you are running downhill and you notice you are starting to lose your form, stop running and give yourself a short break. Allow yourself to recover physically and mentally before resuming. Remember, your purpose during training isn’t to make it down the hill as fast as you can. It’s to run downhill with the best technique. Doing this during your training will lead to you running faster on the hills on race day! Check out this video for tips to improve your downhill technique.
Dr. Terry Gebhardt is a physical therapist and sports performance specialist at Colorado In Motion