Why Runners Need to Train for Downhill Running

Practicing downhill running is often overlooked by runners because it feels so easy. However, if done properly, it can provide great benefits and prevent serious long term damage.

Running downhill can make you sore and tired because of the stress placed on your quads and the tendons and ligaments in the ankles, knees and lower legs. On the other hand, it stimulates muscle growth and builds strength making you a stronger runner. 


If you are going to be running downhill for a long distance and you haven't properly trained for it, you could experience significant damage to your muscle fibers. You may also experience fatigue and pain and then delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the days that follow. Many marathoners have suffered from DOMS when they haven't properly trained for races that include a lot of running down hills such as the Boston Marathon

To gain the benefits of running downhill and to protect yourself from muscle damage, you need to practice running down hills. Downhill running is an unusual movement that cannot be duplicated. Running or walking downstairs is not the same movement so you need to find a hill and practice running down it.

How to Practice Running Downhill

Downhill running

Start with a gradual slope and do some repeats. Start with 2 or 3 only and gradually increase reps. Allow 2-3 minutes recovery time between reps. These workouts should only be done every 2 or 3 weeks as recovery time is essential.

If you live in an area that is very flat, try running down exit ramps or the ramps in a multi-storey car park. 

Downhill Running Form

To make the most of your downhill practice, ensure you practice good running form.

  • Have an upright posture and resist the natural tendency to lean back.
  • Don't look at your feet. Gaze 10-15 meters ahead.
  • Keep a space between your chin and chest--about the size of a grapefruit.
  • Lean from the ankles. Think:  nose over toes.
  • Keep knees slightly bent to soften impact and put more spring in your step. 
  • Shorten stride and quicken cadence to reduce impact.
  • Keep feet parallel to ground to ensure a solid landing and reduce impact.
  • Engage core--your abs and glutes to maintain control and your form as you accelerate downhill.


Run Faster

If you love running down hills as most runners do, you can make them work to your advantage if you do them properly. The fear of falling can make you run downhill slower, but practicing with the proper form will help you lose the fear so you can run faster with less impact. A great way to improve race times. 

So what about you? Do you practice downhill running? What are your favorite workouts? Please share in the comments below. 


Back to Top

Return to Running Tips



FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying  purchases.
Learn more.

NEW FEATURE - DISQUS COMMENTS!

Be the first to comment.
Login using Facebook, Twitter, Google or Disqus.

Loading Comments
#disqus_thread { min-height: 200px; }

Recent Articles

  1. The Best Way to Carry Your Phone While Running!

    Feb 01, 23 10:29 AM

    Carry Phone While Running

    Do you wish there was a simpler, more discreet way to carry even your large phone while running? Are you frustrated with phone carriers for runners that are bulky and uncomfortable?

    Read More

  2. Barefoot Running on Sand Finally!

    Jan 18, 23 11:37 AM

    Barefoot Running on Sand

    Barefoot running on sand has to be the most enjoyable way to run and to my delight, I finally found a new holiday beach that is ideal for running.

    Read More

  3. What are your running goals for 2023?

    Jan 14, 23 08:50 AM

    Running Goals

    What are your running goals for 2023? What was your greatest achievement in 2022? A new year is the perfect time to set a new goal and reflect on last year's achievements. Please share your new goals…

    Read More

  4. Stay healthy and keep running!

    Dec 29, 22 07:01 AM

    Stay Healthy

    Learn how to stay healthy and keep running using the power of our mind! Are you often plagued by headaches, colds, influenza, sinus infections and other common illnesses that keep interfering with yo…

    Read More

  5. Happy Holidays!

    Dec 24, 22 07:31 AM

    Stay Healthy

    The holidays create many golden memories, but they are also a very stressful time for many of us. Stress often creates illnesses that we would happily do without. We want to stay healthy so we can fe…

    Read More

  6. Get motivated to run!

    Nov 24, 22 10:11 AM

    Motivated for running

    We all want to stay motivated for running as we know how powerful it is. Motivation is a powerful driving force that cannot be deterred and when we are truly motivated, there is no obstacle that can…

    Read More

  7. Do you need waterproof running shoes?

    Nov 13, 22 11:03 AM

    Waterproof shoes

    I want to my feet to be warm and dry when winter running but buying waterproof running shoes is not the only option. Find out what else you can do to stay dry and warm this winter while running.

    Read More

  8. What is Runner's Knee?

    Oct 31, 22 11:52 AM

    Runners Knee

    Runner’s knee is a painful knee injury that accounts for 27 percent of all running related injuries. Find out how to speed recovery and prevent it from re-occurring.

    Read More

  9. Decide How You Will Deal With Running Pain!

    Oct 28, 22 08:03 AM

    Running Pain

    Choose how you deal with running pain and avoid injuries! We can help stop injuries from developing when we choose a different response to pain, which can also help us develop a coping strategy for a…

    Read More

  10. What is IT Band Syndrome and how do we prevent it?

    Oct 05, 22 08:15 AM

    IT Band Syndrome

    When you have this condition, you will experience pain on the outside of the knee while running. The pain is usually sporadic—appearing on some runs and not on others. Find out the causes of ITBS, wh…

    Read More