5 training tips for a more successful downhill race


Not only does the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer have a half marathon, but it also includes a 10K, 5K and Kids K — which is only 0.62 miles. (Photo courtesy of AF Canyon Run Against Cancer)

Like many Utah races, the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer (June 24) is mainly downhill — 2,484 feet downhill to be exact.

In the seventh annual race hosted by Intermountain, approximately the first eight miles are in American Fork Canyon.

“The descent can be really rough on your quads,” says Derick Woolf, a physical therapist at Intermountain Hospital in American Fork. “There is a long, flat section of the race at the end of the canyon, and if you get ‘spent’ slowing yourself down hill the first eight miles, then you have a hard time getting to the end of the race.”

In order to protect your knees and health come race day, Derick shares five tips in training for a downhill race.

1. Know your course, train your course

While Derick doesn’t recommend training for the AF Canyon Run in the American Fork Canyon (the race provides blocked off areas and safety measures not available on a daily basis), he does recommend running a similar canyon in preparation for race day.

“You have to include running downhill as part of your training regimen,” Derick says. “If you are training for a downhill half, you need to include downhill running as part of your training every week.”

2. Stretch it out

Stretching is both a workout opener and a closer. Derick recommends doing dynamic stretching (stretching that requires movement) before the race and static stretching afterward.

3. Cross training

Derick says runners need to strengthen different muscle groups. “I’m a huge proponent of cross training in preparing for a race, like bicycling or swimming that will work another group of muscles,” he says.

4. Weight lifting

Trade in the pavement for the weight room as part of your running regimen. For runners, Derick says the most important muscle groups to strengthen are first, legs and second, core.

“Focus on strengthening major muscle groups like your quads and gluts,” Derick says. “Strength training is critical.”

5. Get extra sleep

As a general tip for race training, Derick says you need to add an extra minute of sleep per night for every mile you add to your training each week.
“Sleep is critical. That’s when we recover from the impact,” he says.

Learn more about the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer at afcanyonrun.com.

Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

One Comment

  1. AvatarAmanda Reply

    Just want to give a newbie opinion also about the running tips.Newbies shouldn’t improve their distance from week to week over 10%. This can be a formula for catastrophe, excessive injuries and serious pain. Newbies should run a similar distance for 2 weeks consecutively just before raising mileage. Excellent athletes ought to realize their running amounts every month. Go through the bigger picture more so than the usual week by week time frame.

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