I learned a hard lesson last year in my first 100km ultra: the downhills can kill your quads. I was reminded of this on Tuesday when I had the great pleasure of a run in the hills in Barzio Italy.
This was a short ‘work’ getaway to ski. Sadly the skiing did not happen – pistes were closed due to high winds – but it was a great opportunity to go for a run. The weather was bright and sunny and at about 800m altitude the village felt positively Spring-like. I plotted a course using Gaia GPS, a great app which has trail info and easily auto-routes between points.
The initial bit was on the road through the village but we quickly climbed and found the trail. I was with Tom my business partner and long-term marathon partner and it was great to share the spectacular views and scenery. The route had us going up, up, up around a hill and then down, down, down (more or less) back to the village.
We had a few challenging moments with steep drop-offs next to the narrow path, piles of leaves concealing trip hazards and themselves forming slip hazards but it was with a sense of real joy that I ran though field and forest. This was ‘one of those runs’ and, happily, I’m finding more of them lately. A run where you are just in the moment and soaking up the environment. No clock, no cadence, no pace or HR constraints.
We flew down (or so it felt) and I was doing my best to ‘brake’ as little as possible – trying to develop a technique which does not totally kill the quads but is not a complete out-of-control sprint (just don’t have the leg speed for that!).
Afterwards and the next morning I could definitely feel it, in a good way. I’m going to have to master this technique to survive the 100miler in August with 10,000 feel of elevation my quads are going to have to come to the party – big time. Going to have to go up and down a bunch more before then!!