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.

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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.

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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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