Hill Sprints, but not as you know them
You might start to notice a new type of hill sprinting in the next few days… Not up the hill, down the hill.
I’ve been using it myself for a bit and wow, I’m loving the results. Let’s talk about the why first…
Downhill running is a type of eccentric loading. Eccentric refers to resisting gravity as you lower a weight. So while in uphill running you are moving the weight (you) UP against gravity, in downhill running you are resisting the weight (still you!) DOWN against gravity.
Why is this important? Eccentric loading in this way has been shown to be really effective at building strength and power. We use it a lot in our training anyway (kettlebell swings, slow squats, or slow press ups focusing on the down potion). To put it simply, eccentric loading causes big damage (or micro tears) in the effected muscles. Damage is good, because it signals your brain to repair these muscles AND build them back stronger.
The other reason is that it forces you to run faster than you are used to. When you do this, you develop more neural networks. Literally, you teach your body to move faster than it does without the hill.
A third reason is that any defects in your running style become pronounced. Forcing you to fix the defect. When I started doing this, the first thing I noticed was that I was losing my stable core. Chances are I was also do this when running on flat but never really noticed it before. So it brought this issue to the fore, and it is something I’m more aware of.
How to do it
- So, most of you will have done a fair bit of running with me by now. BUT. This is not an invitation to go hurtling down the first hill you find at full speed!
- First of all, you need to identify a suitable hill. You only need a very slight incline. Think the hill in Burpham Park by the playground. Or on Merrow Street by the school. You also need a suitable ground. Trail paths with sticking out roots and twigs are obviously not a good idea. Nor are slippery paving stones. You also need to ensure there is sufficient stopping space.
- Decide on a length. I’ve gone for about 50-100m or 10-20s should be sufficient. You want enough distance that it’s a challenge, but not too much that you lose control.
- And finally, run! Start controlled and build up. You must be running faster than your normal for at least 75% of the distance. Start with 4 reps. Build up to 6 or 8. Recover fully between runs. Done!
TOP TIP: If it’s cold outside your eyes will water. And that’s not ideal!! Wear shades…
Who’s it for
So right now, some of you are thinking ‘Interesting’ but not for me, I’m not a runner…
Lemme challenge that. This is for anyone who wants to run faster, run more efficiently or identify any problems with their run form. It’s also for anyone who wants to have some fun! Done properly it’s a pretty freeing feeling.
It’s perhaps not ideal if you have knee injuries or back problems. I’d advise getting stronger first before attempting this.
Lemme know how you get on!