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Ski to Sea downhill run leg tips for thriving, not just surviving!

If you’ve ever been at the end of the Ski to Sea race and watched the team members hurry toward the finish line to meet their kayaker, you have a pretty good guess who the runner is.  He/she is the one who is often limping along or walking very stiffly and gingerly.  That downhill run leg can really take it out of you, despite the fact that the paved downhill course can make you feel like you are flying and running mile splits faster than ever. So here are some tips on how to successfully thrive in, then survive the run!

What to wear:  

  • A shoe you know and trust, somewhat fresh, and extremely well-fitting (we can help!)!  You’ll need some space for foot swelling but not so much that the foot slides forward in the shoe over time.  Be sure to double knot those babies!
  • Use Body Glide or Second Skin on your feet as a precaution and then put on fresh clean socks.  Try a new or newer pair of your favorite well fitting socks.  Older socks may have a build up of residual salts from past sweaty runs which increases the probability of irritation and blisters.
  • Don’t wear so many clothes, man!  A light hat and gloves and zip neck shirt and shorts are good enough. Just keep moving and you’ll be fine if you have a stash of clothes and a warm car at the transition.

Tips to make it down the mountain in one piece:

  • Just for fun you can tear off like a speed demon at the handoff, but be sure to ease back as soon as you get out of sight and get real (i.e. focus on settling into a maintainable pace).
  • Hit the tangents!!!  Follow the rules about which side of the road to run on, but look ahead and use your visual geometry skills to hit the tangents as much as possible.
  • Don’t lean back, stay over your feet, don’t land with your knees straight or locked, maintain a shorter stride, stay in control and think about quick turnover, not stride length.
  • If you see somebody, go ahead and try to pass them!  Approach patiently and then kick by them strongly so you can leave them securely behind.
  • Save a little bit for the bridge “uphill” and the finish (but not too much)–so that you’ll be lookin’ good!
  • Hope your teammate didn’t sleep in and be sure to make a smooth exchange!


How to recover sooner than later:

  • Soak those legs in the the oh so chilly river afterward.  Find some pals to joke around with and feel more sane as you go in!  Do a set of 3 ins and outs and scream (releases the lactic acid and makes it easier to stay in the water)!
  • Start on anti-inflammatories, ice, and do some cycling and walking in the days after (anything to keep moving), get a good massage (The Stick or other massage tools can help, too) and you’ll be back in no time–maybe a week or so!
  • We’ve got The Stick on sale for 30% off while supplies last to help ease your pain. ;)


Have fun barreling down the mountain!


Free Falling: Tips to Become a Stronger Downhill Runner –