Tayte Pollmann’s Tuesday Trail Tips series of articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. Tayte is currently ripping it down single-track trails in Colorado. Photo above – Tayte with his girlfriend Mathilde Sagnes and Anita Ortiz, one of American first female #mountainrunning world championship medalists.
One commonly overlooked piece in many athletes training is downhill running. Many runners perform speed workouts several times a week to improve overall leg-speed and cadence. These workouts usually consist of tempos, track intervals and everybody’s favorite – hill repeats. These workouts are effective but I suggest that running fast downhill is another effective method to improve cadence and leg-speed.
Fast downhill running allows runners to sustain a faster pace for longer than one could on flat ground because it is less taxing on your aerobic system to run downhill. This means that runners can have more miles per week at a faster pace and quicker cadence when they utilize downhill training.
To practice downhill running effectively, I first suggest finding a one to three mile slightly downhill trail segment. Chose a trail you feel comfortable going fast on and nothing too technical. Start out by adding a fast 1 mile downhill segment into several of your runs for the week. During the 1 mile, try to keep up a fast cadence and the effort should not be easy. See how you feel the next day and pay close attention to soreness in your quads. Repeat the downhill intervals several times a week until you feel strong enough to run a “downhill speedworkout”. Such a workout would consist of fast downhill repeats and would replace a track or alternative “speedworkout” in the week. Learn to love the hills, up and down.
Check out this quick video to see what kind of trails I like to train on for my fast downhill efforts.