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Myth (?) of Fast Downhill Courses
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Have you posted a year's fastest 5k time at the Firecracker or Dam Night runs?
Yes
77%
 77%  [ 7 ]
No
22%
 22%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 9

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Rocket Man
Rick Wohlhuter


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 491
Location: Benton

PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:05 pm    Post subject: Myth (?) of Fast Downhill Courses Reply with quote

I'm not sure that running downhill is any more of an advantage than running in cool weather or with the wind or even with the adrenalin rush of a larger-participation race.

When comparing the Firecracker and Dam Night runs with all other 5k's, how much of an advantage (say, in seconds) is due to gravity?

I looked at DHW's career 5k's for the last five years (2003-2007). Why DHW? I've been following DHW (literally, by about 7-10 minutes in 5k's) since he is in my age group and so is a model runner for me. David, sorry if I've made a mistake below. Correct me if I have.

Anyway, taken year-by-year, DHW does not always run his fastest times on the downhill courses. This year (2007), his best time is 18:10 at Valentines. He ran an 18:32 at Firecracker a full 22 seconds slower on the downhill course.

Is this just an odd year for DHW? No. In 2005, he ran an 18:04 at Brickfest followed by an 18:32 at Dam Night. That was 28 seconds slower on the downhill course.

In 2003 and in 2006, DHW saw his best time advantage at the Firecracker, running 33 and 28 seconds faster than his other best times those years.

The typical difference for DHW over the last five years seems to be about a 16 second advantage.

Overall for the five year history, his non-downhill PR is 17:40 vs. a downhill-PR of 17:12.

Can we really conclude that the difference is due to gravity?

I have run the FC three times, and never was I able to post my fastest time for the year on that course. Oddly enough, for me, I have always PR'd in the Tyler Curtis hills! And my half-marathon PR was in the tough hills of Fergus Snoddy .

Personally, I think it is harder to run a faster time on a downhill course. I don't really know why. Form, maybe? Over-striding? Lack of training running downhill? I have been told by my family's physician (a tri-athlete himself) that physiologically, the body seems to be built to run best on a slight incline.

Any others have similar or different downhill experiences?

If you are a runner who has consistently posted faster downhill times, how do you do it? Special training techniques? Attention to form/stride? Do you really think it is gravity?

Help me PR the upcoming Dam Night!!
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We chose to go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. --JFK
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Brian S-ski
Paavo Nurmi


Joined: 06 Aug 2005
Posts: 1501
Location: Maumelle

PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This year DHW was faster at V-Day than Firecracker because he injured himself in the spring and is still getting back into shape.
In 2005, he injured his groin making a citizen's arrest at Polansky's 4th of July party, thus the faster time at Brickfest vs Dam Night Run.

Also, you failed to note that just two weeks before his 18:32 at the '07 Firecracker, he ran 19:12 on the non-downhill Brickfest 5K course. So, DHW gained 40 seconds in two weeks. I wonder why?

It is because you can run faster downhill than you can uphill or flat.
This is about as much of a myth as global warming is (note: that means not at all).

All other factors being equal, you will run faster on the Firecracker/Dam Night Run courses than you would a flat course.

The Wall I will now refrain for ever talking about this subject again.
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kimhoward
Emil Zatopek


Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 1427
Location: Mineral Springs

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, DHW has been hurt. I always run the Dam Nite Run 5K about 25-30 seconds faster than the other races, and the last time I ran the Firecracker it was about 45 seconds faster than usual. The FC 5K is so downhill that it's almost an injury waiting to happen.
If you aren't running faster going downhill, you must be pulling your reins back or something, lean forward and let gravity pull you down those hills. You should see Polansky and his long a$$ legs rolling down a hill. Or Don Still and his...uh nevermind...plodding down a hill. Twisted Evil
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Rocket Man
Rick Wohlhuter


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 491
Location: Benton

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

David, thanks for letting us (ab)use you this way. Very Happy

Look at DHW's 2004 5k career (did I get all of them?):

River Run 18:09
Rollin on the River 18:55
Watermelon 18:09
Dam Night 17:53
Firecracker 17:45
St. Mary's 18:21
Valentine 18:01

What I said in the initial post was, "The typical difference for DHW over the last five years seems to be about a 16 second advantage." 2003 looks very similar to 2004. Compare Dam Night to Watermelon and you see a 16 second advantage. There is a nice 36 second advantage between St. Mary's and Firecracker. But comparing DHW's best non-downhill for the year (Valentine seems to be the best run for a lot of folks... why?) , 18:01 (which is really a typical time for him in 2004), the downhill courses only offer a 16 second and 8 second advantage.

Here are my humble offerings from last year (2006):

Run for Their Lives 24:46
Dino Dash 24:56
Run for the Pies 25:33
Firecrakcer 25:32
Dam Night 25:39
Rollin on the River 25:58
Tyler Curtis 24:28

Judging from the limited poll, I am the only guy who can't seem to run faster downhill! Embarassed Embarassed

Onthepitch suggested I may be over striding on the downhills. Kim, I don't feel I'm holding anything back. Actually, I feel like I am almost out-of-control. Not flailing but close! rolling eyes: Yet I'm always disappointed when I reach the bottom. :evil: Valentines was my best 5k race so far this year, a few seconds shy of a PR. I think that maybe I perform better in cooler temps (less humidity). Maybe if July 4th fell in February instead? Wink
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paulward
Sydney Maree


Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 150
Location: Little Rock

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Here are my humble offerings from last year (2006):

Run for Their Lives 24:46
Dino Dash 24:56
Run for the Pies 25:33
Firecrakcer 25:32
Dam Night 25:39
Rollin on the River 25:58
Tyler Curtis 24:28


So, Rob, how many races did you work as opposed to run in during the past year? :)
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MarathonBoy
Abebe Bikila


Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 1325

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Volunteering vs. running isn't the subject of this thread, and if you want to publicly call someone out for not volunteering, maybe revive the Running Sponge thread. Laughing rolling eyes: Laughing

Emphasizing and promoting volunteering at races is a great subject, and one that maybe we all need reminded of, myself more than anyone, having run 146 races and yet to volunteer AT a race that I can think of, as that would not count 300+ miles and 15 races with Dave (which I don't, by the way, as he is a great friend and great running buddy) or the 20+ articles for the newsletter and three speaking engagements to running clubs, including the Women Can Run clinic.

Hopefully, everyone contributes in their own way and in their own time, and the mere number of races ran vs. worked is not, in and of itself, a meaningful measure of anyone's contribution to the running community without knowing the entire story. However, those with a possibly short sighted view of this topic like me owe a huge debt to those who do volunteer to work races.

(To the casual observer who might be aghast at this post: Paul and I are close friends and enjoy debating sensitive topics. Paul, be gentle, I know you are a lawyer and will abuse me mercilessly on this.)
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Brian S-ski
Paavo Nurmi


Joined: 06 Aug 2005
Posts: 1501
Location: Maumelle

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like how MB says "Volunteering vs. running isn't the subject of this thread" but then goes on to write several paragraphs about it.
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Hollowell
Clarence DeMar


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This forum provides me with numerous chuckles per day. Laughing Laughing Laughing
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Rocket Man
Rick Wohlhuter


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 491
Location: Benton

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paulward wrote:
Quote:
So, Rob, how many races did you work as opposed to run in during the past year?


I've been missing you, Paul! Very Happy

Ditto for me what MB said about Paul.

I volunteer the way of all good Methodists -- with my checkbook! :P

Seriously, for a good cause, it is nice to toss a little extra in the pot -- and I know many others do the same.

But... Paul is right and is my conscience and still he stole this thread! I'm not sure where it was going anyway! So... rock on!
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We chose to go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. --JFK
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Rocket Man
Rick Wohlhuter


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 491
Location: Benton

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, to try to save this thread's original intent, I did some research (that's a euphemism for "google" rolling eyes: ) on downhill running.

It seems that every step running downhill is actually a braking step that expends energy. Sometimes, with improper form, as much energy can be spent running down hill as running on a level surface. Over striding and leaning forward too much can decrease speed and increase the risk for serious injury. Running smoothly, keeping feet close to the ground with a normal stride, seems to be a common recommendation. I have not been doing this. I would not hear my feet slapping if I were. This was CG's advice to me after the FC. Thanks, Coach Charles! I'm gonna train on some extra downhills before the DN run. Maybe, just maybe... Very Happy
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MarathonBoy
Abebe Bikila


Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 1325

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brian S-ski wrote:
I like how MB says "Volunteering vs. running isn't the subject of this thread" but then goes on to write several paragraphs about it.

I like the way I can't post without you making a sarcastic comment. Maybe if my comments had involved alcohol consumption, it would have interested you. Bite me.

On a lighter note, I like the new avatar. I can see 3 different optical possibilties.

1) A 3 walled room with a smaller room inside, similar to the small back office in a warehouse.
2) A box with a small chunk out of the top corner.
3) The weirdest one - a big box with a small box sticking out of the top corner that rotates as the big box rotates in the other direction.

I have been mesmerized for hours at a time with this guy.
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Brian S-ski
Paavo Nurmi


Joined: 06 Aug 2005
Posts: 1501
Location: Maumelle

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waaaaaaaaaaaaah! Crying or Very sad

Weird thing is that you are describing an avatar that I changed several days ago. If you are still seeing it, then there is something up with your computer.
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Rocket Man
Rick Wohlhuter


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 491
Location: Benton

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarathonBoy wrote:
Quote:
I like the new avatar. I can see 3 different optical possibilties.


What I see is that same fat red-jacketed guy with a mean yellow parrot attacking his head that I once saw in the French Quarter looking up from the gutter... but any further discussion of this memory will lead to a post in the puking thread. Shocked Wink
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We chose to go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. --JFK
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TigerPaw
Bob Schul


Joined: 22 Apr 2007
Posts: 125
Location: Little Rock

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rocket Man, I know how upset you must be since a barefoot runner beat you at the Firecracker 5K. But I got stuck behind tons of very slow people because I was unaware that the race was ready to start. So that is the last time you will ever be within a minute of my finishing time.:)

Kidding aside, I must have passed you somewhere along the course at some point. I bet it was near Markham or up TigerPaw Hill. Because I really started picking up the pace at that point.
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sidewinder
Herb Elliott


Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 1165
Location: russellville

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there's a technique in how you handle that gravity..... and me too.....lol
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