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Thread: run faster down hill

  1. #1
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    run faster down hill

    I thought i was pretty quick downhill until i started fell running & soon learnt i wasn't .
    I struggle when it's rough ground & can't take my eyes off the next two or three strides i need to look up to see what's approaching .
    The last race i did i was beating a guy uphill & around the tops but he beat me hands down downhill it cost me a age cat first & obviously a place so want to improve & was looking for any tips i can get .
    thanks simon.

  2. #2
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    Practise practise practise ....

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by ali g View Post
    I thought i was pretty quick downhill until i started fell running & soon learnt i wasn't .
    I struggle when it's rough ground & can't take my eyes off the next two or three strides i need to look up to see what's approaching .
    The last race i did i was beating a guy uphill & around the tops but he beat me hands down downhill it cost me a age cat first & obviously a place so want to improve & was looking for any tips i can get .
    thanks simon.
    If I remember correctly Andy Styan had a little article On Going Downhill in the June 1991 Fellrunner - which is accessible on the website.
    Last edited by Graham Breeze; 22-12-2018 at 12:05 PM.
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

  4. #4
    Master PeteS's Avatar
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    Proprioception - experience is everything. That and being able to switch your brain off when it tells you to hold back.

    In terms of of technique, you will notice a multitude of different styles from those with windmill arms to others who practically throw themselves down a fellside. The one thing that I would like to think made a difference to my descending was to really relax, rag doll style and absorb the bumps as much as possible. Confidence is also key but that will come with experience - see point A!

  5. #5
    Master noel's Avatar
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    Practise running quickly on the flat. Work on your cadence - fast feet. Look well ahead. And yes: practise.
    Last edited by noel; 22-12-2018 at 11:22 PM.
    No longer "resting"

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
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    ^ good advice above. The great descenders are born I suspect but you will get faster (and happier) the more you do

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies i will lookup the 1991 article , but thinking about it i do need to learn how to relax when racing altogether as i do get stressed and uptight before the start, this will definitely help.

  8. #8
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    It depends on the descent.

    I got much better at descending when I moved to a flat bit of the country and had to do more running on roads. The increased cadence I gained really paid off on long gentle descents and I still hold the Black Combe downhill record (#humblebrag) which is one of these (I dare say Holmesy will have got down quicker before they started taking splits).

    As for rougher/steeper descents this is a practise thing - and not just at speed. Getting out in the terrain will strengthen your balance, proprioception, knee lift and the required muscle groups. Most importantly however, you will learn (without realising) how to better read terrain. It is this that will help you get over the rougher ground quicker as your mind is subconsciously a few steps ahead and you get down without really thinking about it.

    I rarely practise at race pace (maybe I'll go a bit quicker every now and then, but not all out), but often find I mince downhill when training and require the red mist of a race scenario to really get shifting.

    When descending at my best I'd find my downhill cruise could beat the race pace of those around me. I'd then hit the rougher/steeper descents with gusto to gain more time/places, having saved a bit on the easier sections. However I don't feel quite as good downhill as I did in my mid-twenties (though this could be as I'm higher up the field now and racing faster people so it just feels slower).

    Of course you could go full Ted Masson, who legend has it spent so much time on his ar$e descending at Alva he ripped all the skin off it and spent the next week wearing a dress as it was too painful for trousers!
    Last edited by ba-ba; 22-12-2018 at 10:36 PM.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ba-ba View Post

    Of course you could go full Ted Masson, who legend has it spent so much time on his ar$e descending at Alva he ripped all the skin off it and spent the next week wearing a dress as it was too painful for trousers!
    When I pass people mincing down a descent I have been known to say: "Get a move on. What's the worst thing that can happen?"

    Well...now I know.
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

  10. #10
    Master Travs's Avatar
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    Basically agree with everything ba-ba has said there (albeit from a point much further back in the field!)

    It's very difficult to push hard on those tricky descents unless you're in a race situation, as in any other situation, self-preservation just takes over. But you can still get out on the terrain and get the practice in your feet.

    I do the Peris race every year, and you get splits for each section. I feel that I'm getting no better on the "red dot path" descent each time, when in fact each year I'm knocking a couple of minutes off the descent time... the illusion of no improvement is caused by the fact that as I improve in standard, I'm racing against better descenders...

    I also think a lot of it is confidence. Did Rhobell Fawr a few weeks ago, a single climb and descent... reached the top in a good position and threw myself into the descent... the first few hundred yards were fairly easy and by the time it got trickier I was absolutely flying, and even a big fall didn't knock my confidence...

    On the other hand, I'd visualised for days about a massive improvement in my descent on the Wrekin Wrecker... sadly a very slippy warmup run knocked my confidence before I'd even got to the start line and I "minced" round the descents.

    For practical advice you can take away and try... the best thing I've found is not to worry too much about trying to get the soles of your feet flat to the ground (which sounds a logical idea to get the most from the grip of your shoes).... instead concentrate on keeping a bit further up onto your toes, and keep your feet fast and light...

    Racing the Jubilee Plunge (2 miles downhill only) next week, which should give a me a reality-check...!

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