Trail running and uphill running are often synonymous. Big, iconic climbs can define a weekend long run or a race course. Vertical kilometer events have taken off in Europe (they’re exactly what they sound like—1,000 meters, straight up), and in New England, an entire trail race series is defined largely by its long ascents. But what goes up must come down, and knowing how to run downhill can save your body from injury and shave seconds off your pace.
“It’s almost like a playful jungle gym,” Debbie Livingston says of downhill running. The Connecticut-based ultramarathoner and member of AMC’s board of advisors loves the challenge of a rapid descent. That passion is often visible in race photos, where she appears on the edge of control, arms flying at angles as she hangs on to her balance.
In a race, Livingston uses whatever she can to stay upright on a downhill, landing on rocks, grabbing branches, but also dodging slippery patches of moss and leaves. “What can I swing off of? Bounce off? Leap off?” she says. Going fast but not too fast requires a delicate balance. Ensure a rapid but safe descent by using these time-tested tips.
The more comfortable you get going downhill, the more you’ll enjoy it. Maybe even as much as Livingston: “It feels like flying” she says. “Just soaring. A feeling of free fall, in a way.”