Running fast downhill 

Still buzzing after an incredible training weekend with Mountain Run in the stunning Lake District, we are excited to have founder Charlie Sproson share his top tips for turning any city runner into a mountain goat. In this first of a two-part series he lays out his top tips for speeding down those technical hills. So, over to you Charlie…

1. Commit to the hill:

    One of the most common mistakes inexperienced mountain runners make when attempting a steep decline is to fear the mountain. This dread causes the body to recoil back into the hill away from the potential threatening decent. Leaning back however, slows you down and increases the load reverberating through your lower body. Instead, for a speedy, low impact descent, commit to the hill by leaning into it.  While this may feel intimidating to begin with, you will find that by dedicating yourself to the descent your body will retain a good upright posture.

    2. Take in the view:

    Mountain races are in some of the most spectacular parts of the world. Yet many runners don’t see any of the beauty as they are spending most of their time looking directly down at their feet. Instead, keep your eyes looking 7-12m (10-12 paces) in front of you. Let your eyes scan the ground and create a map for your feet to instinctively follow. This will not only help your body to retain a good posture but will also give you the confidence of knowing what lies ahead.

    3. Agility:

      Running downhill is all about being nimble of foot, lightly floating down the mountain. To maximise your speed bound from one forefoot to the other, aiming to spend little time in contact with the ground. Your forefoot is a natural spring and shock absorber that will help you to keep greater balance and glide as you to speed down the mountainside. The less time you spend in contact with the ground the quicker you will descend the hill. With this in mind allow your stride to lengthen and shorten, adjusting to the ground’s features as your cadence naturally increases to around 210 to 220bpm. For greater stability use your arms as a tightrope walker would use a pole, holding them out loosely horizontally to your side.

      4. Release your inner child:

      Downhill running is all about having fun! Removing the fear, releasing your 6-year old self and embracing the thrill of speeding down a mountain. For many re-training the mind is as important as training the body. Verbally repeating positive affirmations such as ‘I am excellent at running down hill’ on a daily basis helps to re-wire our brains creating new clusters of positive thought neurons. Through the positive sequence of thought-speech-action, affirmations can break negative thought patterns that create fear, transforming them instead into a new positive reality. 

      5. Practice:

      Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. And downhill running is no different! If you don’t have easy access to a mountain pass to speed down on a regular basis, then it may be worth adding some city-based agility exercises to your training routine. Some of our favourites are parkour, slacklining or simply bounding from one pavement crack to the other releasing your inner child as you do so!


      To find out more about Mountain Run’s bespoke running courses please visit:

      To discover more about the Lake Sky trail races please visit:

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