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downhill techniques for off-road runners
Trail Running

Downhill Techniques for Off-Road Runners

ISBN Number 978-1-905444-38-0

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About the Guide


48 page black and white A5 booklet focussing on the skills and techniques needed to be a successful downhill runner.

In both trail running and fell running one of the most effective skills necessary is to be able to run downhill fast and safely. The first section of this booklet describes what happens to the body when it runs downhill before describing how to prepare and condition the body for downhill running through both strength and suppleness. It then moves on to cover and detail the essential skills and techniques of taking a line, improving your balance, eye/foot coordination, angle of lean, stride length and foot plant.

In the final sections the author describes how to construct and prepare a downhill training session covering the different types of session and which would be the most appropriate for the event that you are preparing for.

This book is appropriate for all those runners who partake in trail running, fell and hill running, mountain running and mountain marathons.

When running off-road, whether it is fell, trail, cross-country or orienteering you will inevitably come across hills and as the saying goes, what goes up, must come down again. Most runners tend to think that the ability to run well downhill is something that you are born with or is handed to you when you leave the asylum.

Fortunately it is neither. Rather it is a skill that, with correct conditioning and practice, can be prepared for and learnt.

Written by one of the North East's leading off-road coaches, this guide will show you how to prepare physically, the techniques to practice and also how to construct a training programme to improve your downhill running.


  1. Introduction
  2. Physical Aspects of Running Downhill
    What Happens When You Run Downhill
    Conditioning the Body for Running Downhill
  3. Technical Aspects of Running Downhill
    Downhill Techniques
    Route Choice
    Eye/foot co-ordination
    Angle of lean
    Stride length
    Foot plant
    Stamina/lactic build-up
    Running with a rucksack
    Mental attitude
  4. Training Sessions for Improvement
    Constructing a Downhill Session
    Putting it all together
    Shallow descent, good running surface
    Medium descent, medium surface
    Steep descent, rough surface
    Steep descent, scree surface
  5. Summary

The Walks

Customer Reviews

What do our customers think about this guide?

Newsletter of the Welsh Fell Runners Association December 2006

Author Keven Shevels has been a runner for over thirty years and been involved in offroad running for most of those years. A founder member of the Quakers Running Club and Durham Fell Runners, two of the most enthusiastic off-road running clubs in the North East. He has been a qualified UK Athletics Level 3 coach for the past nine years, specializing in Fell and Hill running. This guide is one of six in a series produced in collaboration with the Run Off-Road organization. “The series is designed to promote off road running and to encourage runners to improve and develop their abilities and skills”.

The contents of the book are subdivided as follows:-
Physical Aspects - Here Keven explains what happens to our muscles causing soreness and how this can be overcome with correct training and conditioning of the body. He identifies two aspects of conditioning - strength and suppleness and describes in depth how both of these can be achieved.
Technical Aspects - In this section Keven considers the various techniques that will, if applied, lead to improvement in ability when descending. These encompass a wide range of factors - balance, angle of lean, stride length, foot plant, stamina-lactic build up, pace judgement, improving lactic tolerance, transition (i.e. moving from one type of terrain to another), running with a rucksack, footwear and mental attitude. Each one of these factors is considered in depth and where appropriate, exercises are suggested.
Training Sessions for Improvement - A useful table showing the appropriate type of downhill session for each different type of event, over various distances, encompassing Cross Country through to Mountain
Marathons, is given. An example of a training plan for a four week cycle is also included.

Keven expels the myth that the ability to run well downhill is something that one is born with. He maintains that with the correct conditioning and practice, it is a skill that can be prepared for and learnt.

Other titles in the series are:-
* Uphill Techniques for Off-Road Runners
* Terrain Training for Off-Road Runners
* Strength and Conditioning for Off-Road Runners
* Special Training for Off-Road Runners
* Mountain Marathon Preparation.

As well as being a helpful guide for those new to offroad running, this could also prove useful to those of us who have still not mastered the art of descending.

Scottish Hill Runners Association Newsletter April 2008

There always seems to be a certain mystique attached to downhill running. People talk about it in hushed terms, saying that the best descenders are alternatively as “hard as nails”, “completely barmy” or perfect their technique by doing downhill reps off the north face of the Ben. I remember former British champion, Jack Maitland, being asked by the French national team to “please coach us in how to run downhill”, and him really struggling to put it into words and try and explain how to do it. So its quite revolutionary to have someone attempt to analyse the skills needed for good downhill running in such a scientific manner as Keven Shevels does in this guide. He looks at the different techniques involved in detail, attempting to break it down into its constituent parts, such as route choice, balance, eye/foot co-ordination and angle of lean. He examines the mental side of downhill running as well (ok, many of you would argue that its all mental!) and goes on to look at different training sessions that might be used to improve. In conclusion, he has a go at “bringing it all together” and gives his tips on coping with different surfaces and slopes. All in all, another excellent addition to the growing list of Mr Shevel’s running guides.

Newsletter of the Trail Runner's Association Winter 2006

"There are 52 pages in this booklet so it goes into it all in some depth, giving you a whole bunch of techniques to improve this aspect of your racing, running, and even just getting down a steep hill face, at which I am rubbish. It is a specialised coaching manual, probably more aimed at fell runners, but trail runners too could surely use some advice on this topic." "I can’t but help think that these are the sort of publications that you would like to have on your running bookshelf, to refer to as necessary"

The Fellrunner Magazine June 2006

“a great asset to any fell runner’s library” “provides all the information and programmes you need to change yourself from Captain Bad Descender into a later-day Kenny Stuart”

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