Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sprinting Downhill and Labor Day Adventures

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I went camping near Yakima and went white water rafting on the Tieton River. This was us ;) just kidding
But the whole experience was extremely fun. The Tieton River is only open to white water rafting in September due to irrigation needs farther down the river (they open up a dam). At this time, this river is considered a class III/IV. No one fell out, everyone survived and we all had a blast.

After river rafting we took a hike to Twin Sisters Lake. This hike is relatively flat and a pretty short hike, but the lakes are beautiful. The only bummer was it was over an hour drive from our camp site, but we still enjoyed the scenery.

I recently heard someone mention that to increase speed you should sprint downhill. Has anyone heard of this? Sprinting uphill helps with muscular and cardiovascular strength, but what can running downhill do? So naturally, I looked it up…

As we all know, whether we are sprinting or running long distance, running requires strength, but running also requires coordination and balance. When we walk, we are going from being on 2 feet to 1 foot. Being on 1 foot requires balance. If you have ever worked with people who have had a stroke or decrease strength/proprioception in 1 leg, you would see how important balance is during walking. Running is jumping from 1 foot to the next with air time in between foot strikes. This requires a lot of coordination and balance.

My studies have taught me that walking (or running) downhill requires increase eccentric control. If you think about it, when you walk down a hill or stairs, you are breaking your movement. Well, this requires more strength from your muscles than walking up stairs (or a hill). Think about a time you were really sore. What was harder? Walking up the stairs or down the stairs?  You should have answered down the stairs because you are slowing yourself down.

Upon further research, sprinting downhill as fast as you can for approximately 40m helps increase your coordination, balance and strength and allows you to run faster. According to (which did back up this article with legitimate sources) "Sprinting downhill develops your coordination by forcing your legs to learn how to handle high speed travel. At first you'll have difficulty keeping your balance, but over time your coordination will improve in response to the increased stride rate."
So go out there and run hill repeats, both down and up a hill. But remember, like with any exercise, ease into it.


  1. We used to run downhills often in track. They help increase your turnover as well. Just make sure to use a very slight downhill. You don't want to be sprinting down as steep an incline as you are using for your up hill power work.

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