General Discussion Triathlon Talk » foot striking running downhill Rss Feed  
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2011-05-04 10:16 PM

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Subject: foot striking running downhill
I always feel like I start to heel strike when I'm going downhill.  Is this just a function of the angles or should I be trying to keep midfoot striking?


2011-05-04 10:31 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
lean forward
2011-05-05 2:36 AM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill

The advice to lean forward while running downhill is sound, but the reason is not really to avoid heel striking.

Yes, even with a forward lean, if the hill is steep, the angles will affect footstrike to some extent.

Why are you concerned about heel striking?

2011-05-05 6:32 AM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
   It's funny, I was just thinking about posting on the same topic.  I have noticed that my usual forefoot/midfoot strike turns into a full heel strike on downhills.  If I try and stick with my usual strike I end up going faster and faster until I am sprinting.  The heel strike seems to keep me slowed down a bit.  Good thing I don't have a heel strike all the time Smile.
2011-05-05 7:36 AM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
Kermat89 - 2011-05-05 8:32 AM

Good thing I don't have a heel strike all the time Smile.


There is nothing inherently wrong with heel striking or inherently right about mid foot striking. There are many factors that come into play with how the foot will strike the ground and heel striking will not necessarily be slower.



For the OP, I wouldn't worry about how your foot is striking the ground but where it is striking in relation to your centre of gravity. As long as it is close to under your COG and you aren't having injury issues, then I would just keep running.

Shane
2011-05-05 2:42 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill

we just did hills in my tri group last week.  The coach advised to try to land "flat-footed" on the hill so your foot would be pointing downhill.  I think one reason is that hill striking on the hill does sort of stop you a bit.  The flat foot approach means that you are ready to push off as soon as you hit.  Maybe not quite as jarring on the knees, which is good for anyone like me with almost no cushioning left in there.   I used to try to hold back on downhills to protect my knees.  If I let go a little bit, it seems to actually be less painful and faster, so win-win for me.

We were doing loops and part of the workout was to run hard downhill too.  The coach was not advising this as a tactic  (sprinting downhill) during a race-just for this particular training session. 

 



2011-05-05 2:51 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
ewillmore - 2011-05-05 4:42 PM

We were doing loops and part of the workout was to run hard downhill too.  The coach was not advising this as a tactic  (sprinting downhill) during a race-just for this particular training session. 

 



I wouldn't advise sprinting downhill (either in a race or training) but learning how to run fast downhill in training and using this during a race, IMO, is a great skill. I coach x-country runners as well as triathletes and we spend time every season working on downhill running as many runners and most triathletes are poor on downhills. Many athletes could run faster, at a lower effort, on downhills if they spent a little time in training letting the hill do the majority of the work for you.

Shane
2011-05-05 2:55 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
I lean forward and also try to focus on relaxing my foot. I don't focus on point my toes down but relaxing my foot and allowing the toes to drop a bit really helps me keep the jarring off my heal. If I did this same motion on a flat trail I would probably trip.

Also, make sure your upper body stays relaxed and your arm swim supports a little longer stride.

If things get too steep, I don't run but kind of do a shuffle like thing. The best I can describe it is the position football/soccer take when running backwards to cover another player. Hands out to the side for stability, knees bent, head looking forward. This position allows for really quick feet movement and good balance and the whole foot is making contact with the ground.

2011-05-05 3:08 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
Agree with maintaining your COG over your feet as much as possible downhill, as well as practicing running downhill, especially if you are doing a hilly race.

The only time I make an effort to point my toes downhill is trail running when there are slick or loose surfaces on the descent, like wet leaves or loose gravel. I find that it increases the surface area at which my foot hits the ground and gives me a bit more traction. Plus if I do slip a bit on a flatter foot, I can usually just slide forward on the surface rather than go straight from heel to butt.
2011-05-05 3:48 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
despite popular lore, heel striking isnt less economical for distance running.
2011-05-05 4:53 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
maybe so, but I've been having some runners knee problems and it seems like the downhill, more jarring, heel strikes can make it act up.  I try to lean forward but feel like i start to get uncontrollably fast on some of the steeper hills.


2011-05-05 5:26 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill

dmiller5 - 2011-05-05 3:53 PM maybe so, but I've been having some runners knee problems and it seems like the downhill, more jarring, heel strikes can make it act up.  I try to lean forward but feel like i start to get uncontrollably fast on some of the steeper hills.

It sounds to me like you're landing too far out in front of your center of gravity so you're making each step a braking step.  If you land with it under your COG and allow yourself to continue forward without braking the jarring won't be as intense. 

2011-05-05 6:04 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
runners dont land under their center of gravity
2011-05-05 7:04 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
interesting. I try not to run downhill. But when I have to I find the faster your cadence the better in terms of jarring on my legs. For me it is a little tradeoff the faster cadence takes more energy to accomplish but hurts less, a slower cadence is easier but feels like it trashes my legs more. A faster cadence requires my legs to be under my COG more. Also, late in a 20 miler when your legs are cramping ever so slightly, I am somewhat scared to go with the faster cadence as I am a little nervous that I wont be able to keep up and end up face planted, where if I do a slower cadence planting my foot further out I feel like I have a bit more control when fatigued. Also, late in a run, even though there is significant jaring on my quads if I am running downhill in front of my COG, it almost feels therapeutic like cr*p that has built up in my thighs is being broken down.
2011-05-05 7:05 PM
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Subject: RE: foot striking running downhill
I tried posting this link in a thread yesterday morning but Runner's World website links were messed up.  They fixed it for me so here is a link to a great discussion on running form by Jack Daniels based on actual research.  It is pertinent to this discussion.
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