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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS seems like a rather technical concept but it is not that complicated. Push hard or do something different and I get sore. The soreness can last days sometimes. Running downhill makes me sore and probably makes many of you (dear reader) sore as well. Apparently running downhill creates an element of ’braking force’ applied when landing which when combined with high intensity and heavy foot plant, leads to the soreness.

Today I am sore from the 5km downhill section I ran on Saturday. It is strange because on Sunday, the day after, I was not as sore in the legs as I am today. This is typical for DOMS, not so bad the first day but day two you know you’re alive! Sometimes fast running takes it’s toll and while I would not go out of my way to develop such soreness regularly it is similar to the discomfort felt in the latter stages of the marathon so hopefully there is a specific training benefit for me.

No doubt many runners feel the effect of DOMS while completing a major challenge or in the days after. Running downhill is itself a terrific skill to have, particularly when completing some of our iconic Australian Runs which have a hill or two. I thought I would share my top 5 downhill runs. The list is no exhaustive but reflects my experience.

  1. City to Surf the stretch from 10.5k – 13k is almost a constant downhill. This is where time can be clawed back if feeling good. I have never felt great but always enjoy the downhill.
  2. Sutherland to Surf in 2000 I ran S2S in a great pack which included Darren Wilson, Dave Evans and the late Mizan Mehari. Mizan was on route to make the Olympic 5000m final later that year and split 28:00 for 10k in the S2S taking off at the 6k mark like we were all standing still! The race has a 160m drop from start to finish making for fast running but sore legs in the days after!
  3. Willandra’ Cross Country venue The big hill and the big decent is epic when Rod Gibb (venue owner from Nowra Athletics Club) marks out the ’tough mother’ of all cross country loops. I have never run well here. Still on the ’to do’ list. I remember watching Wayne Larden running away from a class Australian Cross Country field in ’93 on a hot August day. Probably the best I have ever seen anyone run there.
  4. Fernleigh 15 While this event is a labour of love for me it is truly unique with an uphill 5k, downhill middle 5k and flat final 5k. The even gradient and long sweeping bends make the 5k from Whitebridge to Redhead truly magnificent. Put your head down and go!
  5. SMH Half (Hunter Street) While the course is different now the many times I ran SMH we ran up and down Hunter St. This was where I would often grab a sneaky lead. Got to be careful as there is a fine line between ’all out’ and ’saving a bit’ for the finish.

No doubt others will have their own list but one thing all these events have in common; the week after is an easy week!