AFMDC Recap: Neither hills nor water stop these runners

By – December 4, 2013

David Fuentes, Tia Martinez Destroy Course Records at Run for the Water 

The Gazelle Foundation Run for the Water is all about raising awareness and funding for clean water projects in Burundi. That’s a given. But nobody said anything about rain, lightning, and a little thunder tossed in for good measure.

“You thought it was humid?” asked David Fuentes. “I thought it was nice.”

Winners can say stuff like that. Fuentes, the 26-year-old former star at St. Edward’s University, won a very competitive men’s ten miler with a personal- and course-record of 49:07—more than a minute faster than what he ran last year in cooler, dryer conditions.

The women’s race wasn’t nearly as competitive as the men’s, but 25-year-old Tia Martinez (Kool) was absolutely dominant. With two-time defending champ Betzy Jimenez in Denver, Martinez was off by herself—smashing the women’s course record by more than three minutes.

This wasn’t exactly the plan designed by Martinez’s coach, Steve Sisson of Rogue Running.

“Steve wanted me to go out a little slower than I actually did,” said Martinez, “but I just felt so good that 5 minute, 30 second miles felt comfortable. I was running with Marc Bergman for the first four or five miles but, once we made the turn onto Pecos, I had a little bit of a cramp and backed off a bit. Once that passed, I got back into it pretty well.”

December 8, 2013 Next Up: Austin Runner’s Club Decker Challenge Half Marathon

Ten Tips to Train Running Downhill for Upcoming Distance Challenge Races

1) Run downhills weekly. You’ll need to train on the downhills regularly to get accustomed to the pounding. But, one or two runs a week on a formidable downhill is plenty. Some good, long, downhills to train on in Austin include Exposition, Balcones, parts of Duval, Far West, Ladera Norte, and Mount Bonnell.

2) Warm up first. Don’t begin any run by flying down a steep hill. Your muscles simply won’t be ready for the stress. Run for at least 15 minutes and tackle the uphills before your first major downhill. If you are doing a series of hills, run progressively faster on each downhill, with the fastest one being the last.

3) Start with an easy hill. Pick a gently sloping hill—not some monster like Jester—and run up slowly and then push the pace on the downside. Allow yourself to go with the flow of gravity. But don’t pinwheel (i.e., run too fast). Control your speed. Use your arms like outriggers for balance.

4) Shorten your stride. The tendency is to open up your stride too much—this leads to over striding and running out of control. It’s better to keep your stride relatively short and increase your leg turnover. If you find that your turnover feels too fast, shorten the stride even more until you feel comfortable—comfortably fast.

5) Avoid bouncing. You should attempt to flow down a hill without allowing yourself to bounce up and down; it’s inefficient and stressful on your lower legs.

6) Don’t slap your feet. Slapping your feet can be a sign of weak shin muscles, so you might need to strengthen them with leg extensions. You can reduce the slapping by—again—shortening your stride. Your knees should come forward before the feet. The feet should follow the knees.

7) Maintain an upright body posture. The tendency on steep downhills is to lean backward. This is the number one sin. Try to keep your torso perpendicular to the horizon and your head still.

8) Step lightly and keep your feet close to the ground. Since you’ll be running so much faster on the downhills, there is the natural tendency to want to “get air” with each stride. However, this is inefficient and simply increases the pounding your legs take.

9) Let gravity work for you. On a downhill, you won’t have to overcome as much gravity to run faster. Visualize gravity pulling you steadily downhill and across the flat section or up the next hill.

10) Use your momentum. Once you can see the next flat section (or uphill) on the course coming up, try to extend the speed you have built from the downhill into that next section for maybe a minute or so before slowing your leg turnover and getting into your normal cadence.

Runners who are interested in participating in the 2013-2014 AFMDC must register for the series at; registrations for the individual races are completed separately at each event’s website. Look to the Austin Runners Club for free training for both the half and full marathon distances.



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