Downhill Running Tips

I use to hate downhills. They would hurt my knees, bang up my quads and I would get passed by so many runners on them. But after learning how to run them correctly, I now love downhills. They don’t beat up my body at all anymore and downhills are now one of my specialties.

Here are some of my tips for running gradual downhills:

  1. Increase your cadence: Basically, this means taking small steps. Doing so will help reduce impact (especially on your knees) and will save you energy. You will notice how much lighter and quieter you run when you do this. Shoot for around 180 steps per minute.
  2. Engage your ‘core’: Doing so will transfer some of the ground reactive forces from your joints to your strong core muscles. Engage your ‘core’ by gently pulling in your belly button about 20-30% and hold this when you run downhill. Don’t engage too hard or too high which will restrict your breathing. Focus on engaging your lower abdominal muscles especially your transverse abdominus.
  3. Lean slightly down the hill: Many runners put on the brakes when they run downhill. This results in greater impact AND slows you down. As long as you are doing the above focuses, allow yourself to flow down the hill. Don’t lean backwards, instead you should feel a gentle pull down the hill almost like you are falling. When you lean, make sure it is coming from the ankles and you are NOT bending at the waist. It is essential that you first make sure you are running with a high cadence and are engaging your core.

Damian Stoy is the founder of Wholistic Running, biomechanics specialist and professional ultra marathon runner.

Sign up for my free newsletter and blogs for tips on running, nutrition, health, injury prevention on our homepageSign up

Think running is bad for your knees? You are correct!

That’s right. I said it, running IS bad for your knees. Well…if you’re doing it the way many runners are doing it.

I use to suffer from chronic running injuries. In fact, my knees were so ‘messed’ up that several doctors told me I had to give up running. I tried everything out there to overcome my injuries and nothing helped. I didn’t run for over two years because I was in so much pain everyday. Finally, I was so frustrated and depressed that I wondered if there was a real solution out there. I did extensive research, had a lot of my own trial and error… and finally found the solution.Damian in Tetons

Since those painful days, I have now been injury-free for over 10 years. I’m also a successful ultra runner who has run over 35 ultra marathons including six 100 mile races. That’s right, injury-free!

“But Damian, you said running is bad for your knees?” 

It is for a lot of runners because of the way they are running. Most runners I see (probably you too) run with a high impact running technique and poor biomechanics. Combine that with improper training and inadequate nutrition and it’s no surprise that over 50% of runners get injured every year.

So what did I do to become ‘injury proof’ as a runner? I worked really hard on my running technique, I eat a whole foods diet and I train ‘smarter not harder’. I’m very passionate about injury-free running and sharing it with others. This is why I am now a biomechanics specialist and I coach runners from all around the world teaching them injury-free running technique and how to train smarter.

Please share and pass this blog along to friends and family. My passion is sharing injury-free running with runners of all levels.

Sign upSign up for my free newsletter and blogs for tips on running, nutrition, health, injury prevention  …

How to Run Injury-Free

I use to suffer from many chronic running injuries and had several doctors and physical therapists tell me:

“Give up running.”       “Running is bad for you.”      “You aren’t designed to run.”

I sure am glad I didn’t listen to them. Since then, I have run over 30 ultra marathons and even won 8 of them.

But a much greater accomplishment is the fact that I have been injury-free for the past 10 years. Yep, not a single major running injury in over 10 years even as a competitive ultra runner. Sure, I have minor tweaks and pain after running 100 miles in the mountains. But I do specific things that prevent serious injury which would cause me to go back to the days when I was injured and couldn’t run. I never want to go back to those dark days.10500512_10154308742355584_8044031842047266675_n

Shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band pain, muscle strains and foot pain were just some of the injuries I use to suffer from. Worst of all, I had patellar tendonitis in both knees for two years when I was in college. I was in pain all the time and some days I could barely walk. I went to some of the best doctors and physical therapists in New England and nothing seemed to help so I gave up running completely.

Two years of not running led to depression and a decline in health. I decided there had to be a solution, a better way. I did some research, read lots of books and found out that if I modified and practiced my running technique, I could maybe run again. It sounded unbelievable and I was very skeptical. But I went out and modified my running technique, running for the first time in over 2 years. To my surprise I was able to run with minimal pain. As the days went past, I was able to run more and more with less and less pain. I was hooked.

That was over 10 years ago and since then I have learned extensively about how to run injury-free as well as increase performance. I have experimented with many concepts and lots of trial and error. Now being a competitive ultra runner and injury-free for over 10 years, I have found what works really well for me and my passion is sharing it with others.

My top tips for injury-free running and greater performance:

1. Listen to your body

Yes, I have minor tweaks and pains when I train and after 50 or 100 mile races. The important thing is to not let these become injuries that stop you from running. The key is listening to your body. Do NOT ignore these pains. They are a signal from your body that you need to back off, rest or correct something such as your running technique. Do not be afraid to take a couple days or more completely off.

2. Improve your running technique

The major factor that allowed me to overcome chronic injuries was modifying my running technique. In the past I was inefficient and ran with a high impact technique that beat up my body, though at the time I did not know. For you to correctly modify your technique, do lots of your own research and try different concepts. I highly recommend seeking out a technique specialist to help you with your technique. At a minimum, video yourself running so you can see exactly how you run. Too many runners tell me they don’t heel strike, don’t have imbalances or misalignment issues but most often they do.DSC_0630

3. Improve your nutrition

What I eat greatly enhances my overall health, keeps my energy levels very high and helps me to recover incredibly fast. Again, the key is listening to your body and finding out what works best for you. I have tried just about everything out there and the ‘diet’ that works best for ME for performance, recovery and increased energy is a whole foods, plant-based diet (WFPB).

I highly recommend a nutritional coach like Lindsey at Wholicious Living who can get you great results (she’s also my girlfriend and elite runner, in the picture above).

4. Train smarter, not harder

I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. Training with this philosophy can prevent burn out, decrease injuries and running will be more enjoyable. You will also be more likely to reach your long term goals. Every run you do should have a purpose. Get rid of the junk miles that do not serve a purpose. Cyclic and periodization training are very valuable for reaching long term goals.

There are many good training programs out there. However, most do not focus on injury prevention. I highly recommend looking for a running coach that specifically focuses on injury prevention as well as performance.

5. Other important factors

Cross training and runner specific strength training are beneficial but in my opinion NOT as important as the factors I discuss above. Your foundation should be overall health, an efficient technique and proper training. Strength and cross training will build upon your foundation but too many runners rely on them exclusively for injury prevention.

I am also an advocate of sports massage, yoga, physical therapy and other techniques to help enhance recovery and overall health. But again, do NOT rely exclusively on these for injury-prevention.

Damian Stoy is a running coach, biomechanics specialist, nutritional consultant and founder of Wholistic Running. He offers online coaching and nutritional consultations for runners all around the world.

Sign up for our free newsletter and blogs for tips on running, nutrition, health, injury prevention on our homepage …Sign up