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The downhill running technique, in the discipline of trail running, is one of the aspects on which you shoul work in winter and early spring, using different training terrains and increasing the slope. A Good training will allow you to start the competitive trail running season with a significant advantage in terms of less muscle fatigue, reduced energy expenditure, greater stability and, obviously, an increase in downhill speed.


Before moving on to suggesting some specific training for downhill, here are 5 general tips:

  1. Include some specific exercises dedicated to strengthening the adductors and knees, pelvis stability, proprioception in your routine
  2. Train yourself to set the correct body position when running downhill and to engage the correct muscles. Keep the center of gravity low, the torso slightly inclined forward, rest your forefoot and take advantage of the elasticity of the calves and Achilles tendon, thus reducing the contact time on the ground
  3. Train yourself to run downhill on different terrains and slopes, varying the technicality. Carry out sessions on asphalt, dirt, snow, mud, rock, sand, etc.
  4. Vary the lengths of the climbs, from a few tens of meters to a kilometres. As you become more proficient, run on tracks where the descent becomes more difficult due to the presence of obstacles
  5. Modify your pace during the sessions. Start slowly and then increase, in order to favor the development of automatisms both in terms of coordination and mental and visual which will enable you to choose the trajectory and the best supports without thinking

The extra tip: learn the techniques of using the poles when running downhill and plan specific workouts in your program


Here are a couple of technical exercises for the descent that can make a difference:

  • Short downhill reps on non-technical terrain (starts on asphalt) to be performed at high speed. N° of reps 8 to 20 times x 80-100 meters, recover by walking uphill to the starting point. Some variants can be developed by planning the recovery phase running slowly uphill and increasing the technicality of the terrain. Choose slopes between 8% and 10%
  • Long downhill reps on a technical descent. N° of reps 2-6 x 1000-2000 meters and more. Vary the running technique and the supports and plan some sessions with the use of poles. Start training on slopes of 10-12% up to 18-20% and beyond

An interesting workout, for more trained athletes, may consist of performing long reps rather than continuously in an interval mode, for example, 1′ Fast /1′ Slow running downhill. In the case of long reps the recovery will always be performed with a slow uphill run back to the starting point.

Now it’s up to you! We recommend that you proceed with appropriate loads to your level and progressively.

If you have any doubts, you can contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our coaches:

CHECK OUT our offer of personalized training plans here: TRAINING PLANS AND TRAIL RUNNING TABLES


Enjoy your training!

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Cristina Tasselli

Digital Strategic Marketing Director - certified Innovation Manager - in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.