Firstly, remember that after effort is comfort. The hills that you climb will offer you new landscapes and scenery, plus new perspectives. one after the other. It is necessary to remain lucid, so you can appreciate it! Remember that the effort involved in trail running is important, a steady pace for endurance must be managed, ideally maintaining the same speed on the last ascent as the first.
How to descend well in trail running ?
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or experienced runner, take advantage of these tips to start or improve your trail running!
A climb is a phase of considerable effort, the descent can also be if you do not adopt a good body position. For that, you need to learn to be forward in your upper body, especially downhill. The arms work to aid your balance.
- Psychological barriers
-Controlling your speed
- Centre of gravity body positioning
- Energy saving
- Reduced impact
- Reduced risk of slipping
Pushing your limits and building an appetite for downhills is far more beneficial than staying in your comfort zone.
Nathalie says: Do not be afraid to “dive”. “Personally, I try to visualize myself perpendicular to the slope. It requires commitment, but over time there is fun and efficiency.”
As explained in the first part of the article, a pair of trail poles will always be beneficial, even downhill. Although in this phase of racing, their use does not always seem natural, they do offer additional support. However, there is no miracle recipe, so it's up to you to train with and without poles to choose what suits you best (do not forget the effectiveness factor in your choice!).
For those who are not convinced, it is even more important to have folding or telescopic poles, so you can store them on your running pack. Take a look at our range of packs and race vests that all have pole storage options.
Relaxation is the key point to descending well. There is a psychological barrier with the fear of falling. If this is your case, do not worry it's working! Once the psychological barrier is crossed, you will gain confidence and see the improvements. To descend while being relaxed saves a lot of energy, take a breath, limit the impact, and it is easier to react in case of obstacle.
Nathalie says: If you struggle, hypnosis can be an interesting method for improvement. Hypnosis can help you learn how to master the descent mentally, to gain confidence and help you to control the descent physically. Put yourself in the shoes of a mountain goat!
As for the cadence of your pace and the size of your stride downhill, it depends once more on you. Some will prefer quick steps when others prefer big steps without holding back (always looking for potential hazards). The style of descent must be adapted to the slope and the terrain on which you operate.
Nathalie says: I adapt my stride depending on the slope, my state of freshness, seeking to save energy. Whatever the preferred stride and cadence, the mistake is to be too much on the heel when landing, this is where the risk of a slip is higher. It can never be said enough!
THE TECHNICAL-TACTICAL MOMENT
Physical body positioning is one thing, but downhill the eyes are also very important. As in many speed sports or even when driving, anticipation is paramount. Do not focus on your feet (the landscape is surely more beautiful than your feet...) and look forward. Good anticipation will allow you to move calmly, helping you relax and it will also allow you to be faster.
Nathalie says: Self-confidence is a very influential factor for the descent. To help improve this, practice downhill sports (mountain biking, downhill skiing...). These sports allow you to learn to quickly understand your environment and develop your anticipation skills.
By practicing, you could find that the descending is not necessarily easy. It is a double-edged sword. Whilst you are mentally blocked by the psychological barrier, descending will remain a challenge, both physically and mentally, requiring excess use of energy. You will be more likely to fatigue your thigh muscles, your joints, to lose clarity and concentration (every trail runner knows how important the mental aspect is)
As soon as you manage to overcome this mental barrier and free yourself, it will lower your respiration rate, relax your thigh muscles, and above all, increase your pleasure. Once this barrier is crossed you will be able to enjoy the descents, relax, recover, and even refuel at a pace.
Know how to adapt your training to your level: at first, chose a descent with not too many obstacles (smoother terrain). You will be able to train looking further ahead without worrying about tripping on a rock or a tree root. You can time yourself each descent to provide a challenge and record your progress.
- Go fast, keep your speed on short non-technical descents
- Learn at your own pace to descend in different terrains: stones, roots, wet ground...
- On neutral ground: Do 3 to 5 times 100m descents at full speed, then climbing back up at a steady pace.
- 500m ascent full speed then 500m descent full speed
Objective: to break muscle fibres so that they can rebuild with more strength
NATHALIE MAUCLAIR'S SESSION:
- Interval training descents, including a stopwatch evaluation
- Mountain biking
NATHALIE’S ADVICE FOR DESCENTS:
“Consider the psychological approach to improve running and build confidence. Try to play with the slope, have fun, Increase pleasure and performance.”