Planning Downhill Runs: Always An Uphill Battle?

So as I mentioned in my last blog post I’ve been working to design all, or mostly downhill routes for my runs lately because I like being able to run faster and longer than I could on a flat or uphill course.  But finding a way to run downhill without having to subsequently do steep uphill to get back to where I started (and left my car) has been a real challenge.


Photo Credit

At least I do live in the great city of Reno, NV where as you can see (above) hills are not hard to come by.  It’s no wonder I didn’t discover my love of running downhill until recently.  I’ve been running for a couple of decades now but most of that was in flatter-than-a-pancake Minnesota, where finding a hill longer than a couple hundred yards is a real challenge.

In the Twin Cities it is downright impossible.



Photo Credit

As shown in these pictures, over the entire course of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon the greatest change in elevation is a single hill that is over three miles long, but only accounts for a total elevation gain of about 200 feet.  In fact, as one of the flattest marathons around, Twin Cities also ends up being one of the fastest (the current record is a time of 2:10:05, only about 7 minutes longer than the current world record).  It’s also in my opinion one of the most beautiful, but that’s a story for another post.

So back to finding a downhill route…

The part of Reno I live in is in the very lowest part of the valley, and fairly flat, but my parents live in a much hillier and nice residential part of town, so I immediately gravitated to their neighborhood.  I then enlisted the help of my dad, a former Army Ranger who at a sprightly 68 still bikes every day and has a pretty good grasp on all the possible routes in the area.

I still couldn’t really find a loop or an out-and-back route that was only downhill (no real surprise there), so I decided on a different strategy.  I looked for a good one-way downhill only route that was at least 3 miles long that ended up close to my parent’s house so that they could then give me a ride back to my car.

This worked out well for a number of reasons.  First, my mom and dad are both very active themselves and are therefore always happy to encourage me in healthy fitness pursuits.  Second, it’s a great way to get in frequent visits with my parents who I love to see but have a hard time fitting into my busy schedule otherwise.  And third: my mom usually sends me home with food which saves me on groceries and cooking (score!).

So that’s the best workaround I’ve found so far for accomplishing my goal of downhill-only running, if you have any other suggestions I could try please post a comment below!!


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