In my last 20 miler this weekend, we had an interesting set up. It’s usually Blaise and I, but this time we had our friend Patricia along.
Blaise is a 3:29 marathoner, 1:39 half-er. Or something like that. Patricia is a 3:23 marathoner…
Both are way faster than me (my last marathon was 3:37 and I am not even sure I could run that now).
On every long run, the same thing happens: Blaise starts fast and keeps it up for up to 70% of the run. I hang on. Then he fades and that’s when I get speedy, in the last few miles. Usually the last 5 of a 20 miler. But with Patricia in the mix it was gonna be a different dynamic all along. She pushes, and then pushes some more. But we figured it out very fast.
On flats: we’d all push. On trails (we did some technical trails in the middle of the run), Blaise would take off, and we both would just hang on. On uphills, Patricia would lead (Blaise and I walked up half of those!). On downhills… on downhills, they couldn’t even catch me!!!!!
Because my leg turnover is so high, I am super efficient on the downhills. I’ve been called “the downhill specialist” and stuff like that. But I never thought it’d hold against people who are that much faster than me. Some downhills were scary steep, like you’d fall and roll down. But for me, it always hurts less to roll with them than to break. I just hate to break.
So, if you want to get good at it, it’s simple: find a steep downhill, swear NO FEAR, and run down as hard as you can. RELAX down the hill, roll with it, don’t fight it. Speed down the hill, pump the arms like crazy, but trust the legs will do the work and relax. It gets easier. And faster. Maybe wear a helmet.