Downhill Running Form and Technique


Running uphill and downhill is an important training for runners. Uphill training helps increase our VO2 Max and cardio strength, but a lot of runners get issues when running downhill, especially downhill on the road. The impact of running downhill can affect our quads, which causes micro tears in the muscle cells, which will cause DOMs (delayed onset of muscle soreness), our knees, or hamstrings, depending on our downhill running form. To avoid getting knee pain, or any other leg muscle pain when running downhill, we just have to focus on our running form and technique.

Running downhill also has some benefits, the best thing about hills is that it engages different muscles, which helps to build up strength and train fatigue. Downhill seems like it should be an easier part of our run, but it’s often the most painful part for many runners because it creates more pressure on the knees and legs with a constant breaking effect. Running downhill shouldn’t create injuries, if we build up our knee strength.


Knee Strength Exercises:


  • Squat
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Single-Leg Deadlift
  • Lateral Squats with Resistance Band
  • Lateral Lunge
  • Step Up
  • Split Squat on Bench
  • Feet Jumps/Skips with Soft Landing for Calf Strength

Knee Strength Exercises Video:

What Affects the Downhill Run and Makes it Feel Hard


  • Leaning back when running which creates heel striking.
  • Our body sees it as a break signal and tenses all our muscles to slow down.
  • Long downhill runs require different muscle control than flat or uphill runs.
  • Running downhill involves more ground force and pressure, we land harder.
  • If our hips range of motion is low, it can create strain as our legs need to lengthen out on the downhill.


Tips for Downhill Running Form and Technique


First we need to focus on running consistency. Running downhill too often will create some muscle issues. Running steep downhill no more than twice/week, will prevent knee and quad soreness.


  1. Forefoot/Midfoot- The most important part of the downhill running form is our stride and how we land. We need to focus on forefoot/midfoot landing. If we land on our heels it will create a braking effect, which impacts the entire body. Running on flat, we need to focus on midfoot landing, running downhill we can focus on landing more forefoot/midfoot instead of the heel.
  2. Stride- Running downhill if we have a longer stride we will land on our heel. We need to shorten our stride and increase our cadence, that way we will take lighter steps and land more on our forefoot/midfoot than our heel. Lighter landing will avoid knee and quad muscle soreness, and it will help improve our calf muscle efficiency.
  3. Lean Forward- Running downhill we need to engage our core and lean forward slightly from the ankles, aligning our upper body over our lower body, avoiding the natural tendency to lean backward and slow down.


  1. Focus on Mental Cue- We need to remind our brain to focus on and optimize our form. We shouldn’t look at our feet, but look at a distance of about 10 meters to keep our posture upright, not looking down and hunch over.


  1. Arm Swing- We need to keep our arms lower, 90 degrees bent, and swing a bit faster. Our legs follow the pace of our arms, it will help shorten our stride and increase the cadence. We should also make sure we loosen and relax our chest and arms, to help land more mildly.


  1. Relaxing- To support the impact and pressure of downhill running, we need to take good breaths and let it flow. To support good breathing we need to relax and open our chest.

Run Downhill, Strengthen Your Knees, Improve Your Running Form, Run Strong & Feel Great!




Pre-Run Fueling with Simple Foods


With the current trend of intermittent fasting, and some runners’ body type that doesn’t like early morning breakfasts, many runners or athletes run or train with no pre-run or pre-workout fueling. Some runners have more digestive issues when training after a breakfast or meal, or when our training schedule is very early morning sessions due to our work schedule 5:00am or 6:00am, having a breakfast before our run can be challenging. And for runners following an intermittent diet, they are not allowed to eat until late morning or lunch time. Also, some runners who are looking to lose weight, plan to run on an empty stomach, but running with zero fuel can have some negative effects. Not only does food give us energy for exercise, but it also jumpstarts our metabolism. As a reminder, carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) are the primary fuel source to boost our metabolism and energy level through are training sessions. Our body can digest carbohydrates quicker and easier than protein and fat, so they provide quick fueling for morning runs. Our body stores carbs in the liver and muscles, which is called glycogen. After our night sleep (7-8 hours), our glycogen stores are basically depleted. If we don’t pre-run fuel, we will run on empty. If our plan is to run under 60 mins, then we might be fine with just pre-run hydration or caffeine, again it depends on our body type.


For runners who have breakfast issues, which is according to our body type, to fuel our body even very mildly with some small portions of basic pre-run foods will help to support our energy levels, strength and boost our metabolism. This will help avoid our body crashing through the run. But for early morning runs 5:00am or 6:00am can be challenging, we might not feel like eating and doesn’t seem appealing. But to grab just a small bite of easy to digest food we like, we will get some energy to support our system. We have to test the type of food our digestive system will be happy with. We really need to experiment the amount and type of food we can eat before an early morning run or training session.


10 Easy Simple Grab and Go Pre-Run Fueling Options


  1. Banana

Bananas “potassium sticks” are packed with this important electrolyte. They are also rich in easy to digest simple sugars.

Bananas won’t affect our stomach, they are easy to digest. They are recommended to people who recently had a stomach virus as a tolerable food. Depending on our training session we can eat half or whole banana, or if you feel like you can eat a little more, put a tablespoon of nut butter on your banana.

  1. Dry Cereal

Cereal is packed with carbs, if your body likes cereals, which is what your body needs before an early morning workout. Look for ones that are lower in fiber and added sugar and more natural ingredients.

Grab a few handfuls before a workout and eat. There’s no need for milk, which may cause some GI trouble if eaten too soon before a workout.


  1. Granola

Granola is often thought of as a health food, it’s actually just some oats covered in sweeteners. But we also have access to some granola brands with less sugar and more natural ingredients. That is also what our body can use before a workout. Oats are a healthy carb that can be digested quickly. And a little sugar doesn’t hurt right before exercise.

  1. Apple Sauce

Apple sauce is pureed apples. Since the apples are usually peeled before making the sauce, it’s low in fiber and high in digestible carbs.

  1. Dates

Dates are so good. They are so naturally sweet, delicious and nutritious. And they work really well in low-sugar desserts. Whenever we feel like we need a little extra fuel before a workout, even eating 1 or 2 dates provides quick-acting carbs.

  1. Dried Fruit

There are other dried fruits that work just as well as dates for pre-workout fuel. For example, raisins, dried apricots, dried mango, dried apples and dried pineapple. Make sure you eat dried fruits that don’t have any added sugar, since the dried fruit is naturally sweet enough on its own.

  1. Honey or Maple Syrup

Some people feel like they can’t eat anything in the morning, so they prefer to take a spoonful of honey or maple syrup. Since these options are essentially just natural sugar, they provide some quick acting fuel that will give you energy for about 30 minutes.

If you’re running for longer than 60-minutes, you need to have access to some energy fueling, energy chews, sports drinks, electrolytes or dry fruits or banana. For longer runs, we also have to refuel with gels, energy bars or natural foods.

  1. Homemade Sports Drink

Many sports drinks on the market contain unnecessary additives, colours and flavours, if our body is not happy with certain sports drinks, we can make your own at home with just three key components–fluid, electrolytes and carbs. The carbs in sports drinks help provide energy for exercise, and this is a great option for people who can’t stomach real food in the morning.

  1. White Bread

White bread is lacking of protein and fiber, which means it won’t keep us full for long, and doesn’t contain good nutrients. Because it’s pretty much just carbs, white bread is easy to digest and provides quick acting energy. If you like the taste of something starchy in the morning, pick a slice of white bread, and this is also a good recommendation for long-distance pre-run fueling with some honey, almond, peanut butter, or jam.

  1. Potato

If you have some leftover white or sweet potatoes from the night before, stick them in the microwave and eat for breakfast. Potatoes are full of incredible starchy fuel that is easy to digest.

Proper Pre-Run Fueling, More Energy, Endurance, Great Run!