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Advice to prevent injury and improve your downhill running technique

Jogging uphill can be a difficult feat from a cardio perspective, but running downhill is a lot more challenging for your body. Why? Muscles shorten and lengthen or contract concentrically and eccentrically. Eccentric contractions require more energy and experience more wear and tear. The downhill running technique uses a lot of eccentric contraction, especially on the lower leg muscles and quadriceps. By mastering your downhill running technique, you will improve your form and put less stress on your body. Pro tip: make sure you complete those hill workouts with this advice to maintain your training during the holidays.

Tips to improve your downhill running technique

Remember, it’s important to properly warm-up before any run, especially a hill workout. This 10-minute warm-up will get you started!

Look ahead, not at your feet

The human brain is adept at instantly interpreting what the eyes see ahead. Proprioceptors in muscle, fascial, and connective tissues send direct signals to the brain about where you are on the hill. When you look ahead, it gives your body and brain enough time to respond. This allows you to use gravity to your advantage. Take a few seconds to stand and look six feet ahead of you. Now look down at your feet and get a sense of what’s happening to your hips. They’re probably behind your center of gravity. Benefits include:

  • contract and shorten the quad muscles before movement
  • strengthen big muscle groups like hamstrings, glutes, and quads
  • strengthen hips to stabilize joints and maintain alignment

If you look ahead and engage your core your hips will stay in your center of gravity. It’s easier to absorb force, propel forward, and stabilize from this position while running downhill. Pro tip: running downhill provides a great opportunity to recover and build your mental toughness.

Engage your core

What is the core and what role does it play in your form? The core is a set of muscles that connects the lower and upper body. From the deepest to the top layer: transverse abdominus, internal obliques, rectus abdominus, and external obliques. These muscles work together to provide you with stability while helping you propel forward in your running technique. If these muscles are not working properly, the large muscles try to offer stability but with a lot of tension and alignment issues. This can worsen your injuries. When you have a strong core, you will develop a good posture. This can help maintain your center of gravity as you dart down the hill. Keep in mind, running surfaces change as you stride downhill, especially on long runs. A strong core will help you move nimbly. Pro tip: recover faster with this long-run recovery timeline.

Perform running downhill drills

Forward or lateral hops

This drill will help you develop a stable core and quick tempo. Try to stay tall the entire time while keeping your feet together. Begin by practicing for 20 seconds and work to 45 seconds.

Grassy hill

Go to a grassy area such as a park or golf course. Start with a hill that’s easy to tackle. Run down this hill with quick feet. Begin with quick repeats, anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. This will give you more confidence and help your brain build new movement patterns.

Supine marching

This exercise engages and strengthens your core. While lying on your back, pull your belly button in, toward the spine. Engage in marching steps.

Mastering the downhill running technique is easily accomplished if you practice downhill drills, engage your core, and practice forward gazing. Better your technique and incorporate these 12 tips to make running that much easier.

Training during the holidays is tougher, don’t let it slip with our advice

The holidays are around the corner and your training is going well. You’re progressing nicely and increasing your distance as planned. You’re feeling well, eating healthy, and have a nice routine. Don’t let any travel, excess food, or additional plans alter your training during the holidays. Maintaining your training during the holidays will lead to greater success in 2021. Pro tip: if you find yourself feeling stiff, loosen up with these 4 simple stretches.

Have a plan

You already have a training plan. Stick with it! Even if you have to adjust your training schedule, stick with it as best as you can. If you normally complete your long run on Saturday but can’t one weekend, switch it to Sunday. It might throw you off a bit, but sticking to your plan closely is beneficial. Either way, make sure you follow our long-run recovery timeline. Pro tip: if needed, flip your rest day with a run day to better fit your schedule.

Get an early start

If you’re used to running early, this is perfect! If you’re not, this is normally the best time to run, especially during the holidays. There’s less going on early in the morning. This gives you a better shot at knocking out that run or workout. Plus, when you get an early start you get it out of the way for the day! Training during the holidays can be tough. Chances of not completing your run increase as the day goes on. Make sure you properly warm-up.

Find a partner

Accountability is huge. Find someone to run with you and be your partner during the holidays. If you’ve already got a few training partners and can’t run with them because of travel, schedule a quick FaceTime before your run. Even a virtual get together is a great way to hold each other accountable. You can even chat afterward just like you would if you were together. 

Prepare

Planning ahead is a great way to keep up your training during the holidays. If you’re traveling, take your gear with you! Make sure you have clothing that’s appropriate for the weather. Take your preferred hydration and nutrition with you. Don’t forget the smaller items like your booty band, running belt, watch, or headphones. Even if you aren’t traveling, the holidays can be time-consuming. Make sure the clothes you’ll need are ready and that all of your items are fully charged.

Reward yourself

This is the best part! The holidays can often mean great food and amazing desserts. Don’t feel bad about rewarding yourself, especially when you are training during the holidays. Don’t go overboard and affect your diet. You still want to maintain a healthy balance. But at the end of the day, rewarding yourself with that dessert you’ve been eyeing is an excellent motivator.

There are many ways that your training during the holidays can be derailed. This advice will keep you going, give you the flexibility to adjust, and make sure you stay on track to accomplish your goals.

If you’re at a desk all day, these stretches for runners will keep the blood flowing

For people who love to be active, a desk job can be disadvantageous. Not only does it limit your active time, but also creates muscle stiffness and lethargy. Runners, in particular, need to be agile and swift. Although you would warm-up before a run, long hours of sitting can still result in chronic stiffness and affect your form. All you need is a few minutes away from the computer every few hours. These 4 stretches for runners can help reduce muscle stiffness if you are sitting all day. 

Pro tip: if you have a foam roller use it correctly and avoid these mistakes.

Knee hug

This is one of the easiest and most satisfying stretches for most people. Lie down on your back. Make sure the surface you are lying on is firm. Bend both your knees and grab them with your hands. Gently pull your knees closer to your chest. With your back flat on the ground and your knees close to your chest, hold this position for about 30 secs. Then slowly lower your legs back to the ground.

You can repeat this stretch a few times. It doesn’t require too much effort and is easy on your muscles. This is a great stretch for the lower back and helps release the tension from these muscles. Pro tip: stretching is also a great way to speed up the recovery process after your long run.

Forward fold hamstring stretch

Hamstrings are one of the biggest muscles in the legs. They play a crucial role in supporting your body during runs and workouts. To stretch your hamstrings, you don’t really need to leave your desk. While sitting on your chair, put your leg straight out with your heel placed on something elevated. Keep your foot flexed. It could be a box, a shelf under your desk, or a footstool. Place the other foot firmly on the ground. Sit up straight and slowly bend forward hinging at the hips. Keep your abdomen tucked in, pulling your navel towards your spine.

To move it up a notch, you can try and reach the toes of your extended leg and hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat the same on the other side.

Seated pigeon stretch

The pigeon stretch is great for opening up your hip flexors. Here’s a modified seated pigeon stretch for runners who sit at their desk for the majority of the day. Sit straight on your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Flex the right foot. You should feel a stretch in your outer right hip. To intensify the stretch, hinge at the hips and try to fold over the right leg.

Hold for 20 -30 seconds and then repeat on the left side.

Seated twist

This is another very satisfying stretch for the back. You can do this on the floor or even on your chair. If you are on the floor, sit up straight and extend your left leg forward. Cross the right foot over the left leg and place it next to your outer thigh. Hug the right knee with your left arm and place your right hand on the floor behind your back. Slowly twist to the right and look over your right shoulder.

Hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Most importantly, move around

Moving around is a great addition to these stretches for runners who sit for the majority of the day. Get up from your chair every few hours and walk around. Prolonged sitting can not only affect your running but leave long term impacts on your overall health. Make sure you take time to get up and move around no matter how busy your day is. These stretches for runners are a great addition to these 8 ways to prevent shin splints!