Monday, March 07, 2011

Is there no substitute?

If Saturday’s run has taught me anything it is that I must incorporate more downhill running into my training over the next few months.  Saturday’s mountain running adventure, spanning 36 miles and 8,750 of climbing, was the first of it’s kind since last November.  The body’s memory for climbing and uphill running in general felt second nature, which was nice, but I knew the fast, technical downhill running would come with a cost, paid later in sore quad muscles.  Now, two full days removed from Saturday my quads are still sore, a cautionary reminder of running down tall moutains on unseasoned legs.

The quad muscles will come around soon enough, as will their conditioning, but I can’t help myself from wondering how is it that mimicing long, uphill running is not so much a problem but there isn’t much one can do to replicate mountain downhill running other than to actually seek out mountains and run down them.   Aside from maybe doing leg lifts or squats what options does a (mostly) flatland runner have for seasoning the quads for the rigors of running down mountain after mountain?  As the racing season approaches, the days are fast getting longer and so are my runs.   The time for frequent weekend mountain training runs is nigh.  But what about during the week?  It would be nice to work in extra quad conditioning runs in addition to long weekend runs to prepare the quads, a complicated muscle group to say the least, in the same fashion as running long, sustained descents.  I doubt there is much one can do other than perhaps jacking up the back of a treadmill- something I couldn’t try even if I wanted to since I don’t have access to a treadmill.  I suppose I will continue on with my old habits (which aren’t so bad, really): mountains on the weekends when I’m lucky and a mixture of roads and rolling trails during the week.  Still, if anyone has ideas or suggestions I’d love to hear them.

In other news, to be perfectly honest, people who know me well know that I’m generally somewhat obsessive.  One thing I am obviously obsessive over is running and, certainly, I’m obsessive about actually being able to run and not being injured.  I guess Lisa Jhung sensed this about me and offered to share with her readers how I work to manage running injuries.  Read here: The extra workload I take on just so I can add running volume comes with a heavy time burden and may not be [necessary] for everyone.  It is simply something I choose to do because I know it works for me.


  1. Neal- having moved from Utah/Colorado to SC, I feel your pain on the lack of downhill training available. I've found that as long as I get 1 really good (i.e. sore quad) downhill workout every week or two, then my legs are ok during races. More down is better, of course (I did so much downhill last summer than the Bear didn't make me at all sore), but you have to take what you can.

  2. That is a good goal, Neal. How about a ski resort? Just take the lift up and run down...over and over. :) I read your article on the RW website. Very informative. You and Gaby seem to be doing all the right things for a healthy and successful 2011. The more I learn, the more I realize I need to know. I love that.

  3. Yeah but running up is actually part of the fun, so forget the lift! I have a friend in DC who does 10 story hotel staircase repeats. Up, down, up, down... Seems like a good way to mimic running down a mountain.

  4. I enjoyed the article! Thanks for sharing. Glad you're in a good place with a routine that works for you.