One thing I have never understood through the years I have been doing this is how the elite Orienteers are able to barrel down steep slopes running full speed? It doesn't seem to matter if there are rocks or logs strewn in the path. Is there specific training that you do for this? Is safety considered or does it just take a devil may care attitude. I can't conceive of myself doing that. (Especially now at my age.). When you pass me on a hillside II just admire it and say Wow.
Any words on enlightenment on this question?
my theory is: lean forward with the hill. the lack of fear will come with time when you do it often enough.
At the same time you have to be able to take a fall because they will happen sometimes.
The above & tape your ankles...
Don't tape - just strengthen them!
Erik Nystrom was really good at this, but he did have some spectacular crashes.
Eva Jurenikova did training this year for downhill running because she felt she was weaker than her opponent's in this area, especially in the WOC terrain. I don't know if it worked or not, but her results have been much better this year than any other.
Start when you're really young. Like I did. Maybe it's too late for you. I have a really fond memory of doing this on a nasty rocky slope on a course when I won a national championship. Night-O champs, to be specific. When it's really really steep, I've been known to tuck my map into my waistband so that I can grab saplings on the way down to control my speed. That's a lot of fun.
there is a great book about fell runners which talks a lot about running downhill.
Don't forget to stop when you get to the control or you will be working on running uphill :-)
I don't like the sound of felling runners. Do you need a special kind of axe?
Hey Geoman. You have to really trust your leg turnover to run downhill at high speed - so if you see an obstacle, you'll have enough explosiveness to jump over it and get your feet back underneath you. So anything you can do to increase leg turnover will help.
Overly cautious runners are always worried about being able to stop on a dime. But to run fast, you have to change your mindset and be satisfied with just having a safe fall line or escape option.
To practice, I like to find really technical trails of any downhill grade and run them repeatedly. To protect the knees, do most of this on flattish ones, with only a slight downhill grade (like some of the technical trails around Lake Anza), but I would occasionally do something steep, like the single track beside "the connector" on the UCB fire trails. Disclaimer - I have twisted my ankle running that trail.
But after you run the trail several times, you will know where the obstacles will be, so you can practice taking them faster. With time, you will find that instead of braking, it's better to accelerate into many obstacles. Some things that used to be obstacles will turn into useful tools for redirecting your momentum.
Running style depends on terrain. There are a few soft redwood hillsides around here that you can kindoff lope down. If you take big easy steps, you can move pretty fast and just sit back into a soft landing when things get out of control. But that doesn't work the same on the hard packed grass hillsides.
I still have trouble on the really steep hillsides (like Calero or Briones), where it's easy to reach speeds where I can't trust my leg turnover anymore. If you don't have that confidence and you start trying to brake, then the whole dynamics of running changes: center of gravity, foot placement, etc... In general, you can't just slow down a little bit, but have to slow down a lot.