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The right way to handle downhill running

SEP 28, 2022

Minute 1: Tips for better downhill running

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” During tough times, we have found inspiration in that quotation from self-improvement author Napoleon Hill. As runners who live in Boston, however, we also take that sentence literally, as in: “Running Heartbreak Hill makes us stronger.” It’s true that hill workouts deliver many benefits, but as any Boston Marathon veteran can tell you, it’s not the uphills that get you, but the downhills. The course punishes your quads with 1,225 feet of downhill terrain. If you’re running New York in November, you will encounter 690 feet of downhills. To prepare for elevation loss in a marathon or a local 5K you may want to check out this piece of advice: “Master downhill running with these three tips.” On a steep downhill section, the temptation to hit the pavement hard and cruise down will be there, but you should use restraint or risk injury, experts say. Start by relaxing your core and upper body. Loosening up will help you let gravity do the work without tensing up and limiting your ability to absorb the increased impact. You’ll also want to lean forward slightly to adjust your stride. On particularly winding downhill trails, it’s good to shorten your stride length to increase your control. Like any other aspect of fitness, the only way to get better at it is practice, so it’s a good idea to incorporate some downhill running in your training. Here are “6 Reasons Why Runners Should Include Downhill Running Training.” Just like strength training, the motion of downhill running is a training load we can adapt to, but be sure to remember training and racing require different degrees of effort. Taking it slow and steady as you prepare will build the musculoskeletal foundation needed to handle more speed come race day. #GetDownWithDownhills

Minute 2: For a healthy mind, keep your meals consistent

There’s a saying that you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. The idea is to give yourself plenty of energy at the start of the day to get things done, and slowly taper off so that your digestive system isn’t overactive towards bedtime. Well, when it comes to brain health, a more consistent approach might be superior. That’s what research uncovered according to: “Balanced meal timing may benefit cognitive health, study shows.” First thing’s first: both the research and the old proverb agree that skipping breakfast is detrimental to your health. The study looked at the source of calories across the day, and grouped people into six categories: even distribution, breakfast heavy, lunch heavy, dinner heavy, snack heavy, and breakfast skipping. Among these, breakfast skippers showed the most noticeable cognitive decline over time. Those with an even distribution showed the least decline, suggesting that a moderately sized meal 3 times a day is what the brain needs. It feels like a good time to bring up these “High protein breakfast ideas” that will support brain health and muscle growth all at once. Not only is protein slower to digest, helping you feel satiated for longer, but it can also help regulate your blood sugar levels so that you don’t feel rapid swings in your energy level throughout the day. #FoodForThought

Minute 3: The TB12 fitness philosophy isn’t just for pro players

At age 45, Tom Brady is the oldest quarterback to ever play in the NFL. It’s clear his fitness and diet regime work for professional athletes, but how much of it translates to everyday folks? Part of the answer comes in this new story: “Florida school system studies Tom Brady fitness plan in pilot program.” The TB12 system is built around five pillars: pliability, nutrition, hydration, movement and mental fitness. First on the list, pliability, is of primary importance according to Brady’s team, and it’s what allows muscles to be resilient even after hard workouts and contact. This is also, in our opinion, where endurance athletes can pick up the most benefit from his philosophy. For a breakdown on pliability and how to develop it, read “TB12 Explained: An Introduction to Pliability.” Deep tissue manipulation, paired with a good diet, sleep, and plenty of water is the foundation for pliability. Foam rollers are the easiest way to develop it, and Brady’s site offers some that have a built-in vibrating motor to accelerate the process. Combine that with “11 best stretches for runners: improve your pliability” and you’ll have a chance to replicate Brady-esque longevity in your own sport.

Minute 4: Peek into the training of 24 hour running WR holder Aleksandr Sorokin

Here’s something we can all agree on: running for 24 hours straight is a remarkable feat, regardless of pace. We were awestruck to learn that Aleksandr Sorokin broke his own record at the IAU 24-Hour European Championships last weekend at a speedy clip of 7:15 per mile. The amount of dedication and planning that goes into such an accomplishment is something to behold, and we think there are a few tips everyone can learn from one of the ultrarunning GOATs. Here is “No Limits: An Interview With Aleksandr Sorokin About His New 24-Hour World Record.” Sorokin says he trained for about 300 to 370 km per week leading up to the event, where he completed 320 km in a single day to set his new record. Along the way, he took in about 500 ml of fluid and 400 calories an hour. We covered some ways to improve your hydration experience on the go in a recent issue, so check out Minute 4 of that one for a refresher. Sorokin claims he felt that he went out too fast, which is a strong reminder for all of us that now matter how experienced you are, controlling your pace takes focus and discipline. Take a look at these “4 Keys to Not Starting a Race Too Fast” for more on that.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Can the right beat help you beat your PRs? According to this new story, the right tunes can do more than just improve your mood: “Can a Playlist Boost Your Performance? Yes, With the Right Songs.” The key is matching the BPM to the activity. As you might imagine, your yoga session will benefit from something slow and steady, while tempo runs need fast, driving beats. If you dial things in just right, you’ll likely experience a lower perceived difficulty, according to audio experts. To find the right sound track for your style, of course you can turn to giants like Apple Music or Spotify. But you may also want to check out apps customized for endurance athletes like Fit Radio and RockMyRun that both offer trials.

  • This may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re struggling to fall asleep, just give up. Any conscious behavior that’s done in an effort to fall asleep could be working against you according to some sleep experts. That means before you try anything else, the simple fix might be to take a step back in your approach. To see the details, check out “Want to get a good night’s sleep? First of all, stop trying.”

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the massive amount of biometric information at your fingertips, it can be good to go back to basics to plan your training for your fall marathon. We’ve mentioned them before, but with a busy fall season ahead of us, we figured it was worth mentioning one of our favorite rules of thumb, the Yasso 800s. The workout is fairly straightforward: Run an 800 meter 10 times as fast as you can comfortably manage, with equal time spent resting between each interval. Legend has it, whatever pace you’re able to hold will be an accurate predictor for your marathon time. In other words, if you run 10 3:05 (3 min, 5 sec) 800s, you’ll likely run a 3 hour, 5 minute marathon. The method works more accurately for certain kinds of runners, so to see if it fits your style, read “Does This Track Workout Really Predict Your Marathon Time to the Minute?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

What else can be said about Eliud Kipchoge that hasn’t been already? Not much, as he continues to cement his status as the greatest marathoner of all time. Once again, Kipchoge delivered an unbelievable performance at the Berlin Marathon, smashing his own world record and getting us just a bit closer to the sub 2 hour mark in an official race. Between that, and a goal of winning gold in the marathon at the next Olympics, Kipchoge’s ambition is as large as his ability. Good for him. If you need a little boost in motivation for your next training session – or just want to admire a champion – check out his spine-tingling historic finish in the video below.


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