Fast downhill running is something that no longer comes naturally to me. As I ‘ve gotten older I’ve found myself looking for the easier runs, less aggressive physical exertion on the ups and less risk on the downs. As for the downs, I’ve become increasingly more fearful of the thought of just how fast the ground can come up on me as I loose complete control of my decent.
Lately, I’ve decided that I need to get stronger and fight the effects of age on my body as opposed to capitulating and accepting it.
Yes, it hurts. And not only while stomping the uphill but for the next two days. I’m reminded of just who I am and who the boss really is. And yes, storming the downhill on the verge of out of control does scare the shit out of me. But is it fun? Hell yes, for those brief moments when excitement and joy over come fear I am 10 again.
Running fast downhill, besides being scary and fun, has an added benefit as we age. I promised that I’d never get into the weeds on things outside my understanding. To hear from people smarter than me, check out The Benefits of Walking on Uneven Ground.
Now from me. For one thing, your stride & footfall are constantly changing, reducing the risk of injury from repetition. Helper muscles and core strength that might not be utilized on flat pavement, are necessary for all of the micro adjustments you are making. And in my humble opinion, the leaping necessary at times works my quads enough to keep me out of the gym.
As for the mental aspect, your head is on a swivel. You are continually observing, making split second judgments and then adjusting your stride and body position. Thousands of times, over and over. My favorite mental benefit when I’m done, sitting in my truck looking back up at that hill, is the renewed clarity I have. All focus & attention had been on the ground immediately in front of me. Anything that may have been on my mind on the drive up here is gone. Right now it’s me and the moment. I leave refocused and ready.
Bear Butte SP, South Dakota
Located in the northern Black Hills just outside the town of Sturgis is Bear Butte State Park. The hill itself is an intrusion of igneous rock that rises 1100′ over the 1.5 mile summit trail.
Steep in sections with timber pinning & carved steps. Loose scree, baby heads and open stretches makes for great training to be fast.
A relatively short trail allows for sessioning sections or a double summit.
Training to run fast downhill is not easy. But the rewards in conditioning and strength are indisputable. And after a few sessions, the challenges of running downhill at high speed becomes fun. Get out, go fast, have fun & most of all, don’t die.