The downhill running technique, in the discipline of trail running, is one of the aspects on which you should work during Winter, training on different terrains and increasing grade progressively. A good training will allow you to start the competitive season with a significant advantage in terms of less muscle fatigue, reduced energy expenditure, greater stability and, obviously, an increase in speed in the descent phase.

A well-trained trail runner manages to run a descent of 800 meters with 200 meters d- in about 2’20″; the slower athlete will do it in a double time! It would therefore be a shame not to give the right attention to specific training for the downhill running technique.


Before moving on to suggest some specific training for the descent, here are the 5 general tips:

  1. Plan in your exercise routine some specific ones dedicated to strengthening the adductors and knees, pelvis stability, proprioception
  2. Train on different terrains and slopes by varying percentages and technicalities. Starting with training sessions on asphalt and dirt road and then, subsequently, snow, mud, rock, sand, etc.
  3. Vary the lengths of your climbs, from a few tens of meters to a few kilometers. When you become more skilled, move to trails where the descent becomes more difficult due to the presence of obstacles to jump or to get around
  4. Change the execution speed, start slow and then increase it, so as to help the development of some automatisms both in terms of your coordination and mental and visual skills that will enable you to choose the best trajectory and supports without thinking about it
  5. Train yourself to set the right position for the body downhill and to engage the correct muscles. Keep the center of gravity low, your torso slightly bent forward, test your forefoot and take advantage of the elasticity of the calves and Achilles tendon thus reducing the time of contact with the ground


Here are a couple of technical exercises for the descent that can help you to improve your performance:

  1. Short downhill reps on non-technical terrain (starts on asphalt) medium-high slope (in terms of %) to be performed at high speed. From 8 to 20 times x 80-100 meters, recovering walking uphill to the starting point. Some sessions can be developed by performing the recovery phase slowly running uphill and increasing the technicality of the terrain
  2. Long reps dedicated to technical descent training, from 1000 to 2000 meters and over x 2 – 4 times, varying the running technique, the supports and using poles in some sessions.

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: info@trailrunningmovement.com

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.