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The Sports Doctor: Strategies for running downhill

One of the main problems runners experience in a race, especially if the course is hilly, is fatigue at the three-quarters point. This is a result of increased burning of Lactate Acid and fatigue in the muscle tissue from running the hills too hard too early in the race, often creating more damage to race performance.

It is best to run faster on the hills later in the race rather than early.

For many years, it was thought that racers should run up the hill hard and come down slower. But in all actual fact, you can increase your running speed on downhills without building up lactic acid as the oxygen consumption to the muscle will actually decrease on the downhills.

The actual workout should be at a race pace once per week for about five to six hills to start, then increase two or three hills per week. A good downhill running style is getting up on the balls of your feet, which will dissipate stress away from your body. Whereas, landing on your heels will create trauma and possibly injury, as well as loss in time.

Always give your body proper recovery whether it is a training session or a race.

Dr. Robert Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and the 1988 Olympic Trials. He is a veteran of 30 marathons. Weiss is a Fairfield native who lives in Westport and has a practice in Darien. For information, visit his website at www.therunningdoctor.net.

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