Issaquah Alps, Running

Ingunn Learns to Run Downhill, Part One (of Many)

With the onset of rain comes the arrival of Tiger Mountain season. Tiger is the perfect place for me to “train” for Orcas Island and get the exercise I need to stay somewhat sane during the soggy months.

I think Orcas will be a good first race for me as there is no way I’ll be able to run for 25 kilometers without walking. 3500+ feet (not quite sure of the exact figure) of elevation gain means long hills, long long hills, long hills that force pretty much everyone except the front-runners to slow to a walk.

Tiger is pretty in the fall

Since I’ll be walking several miles of the course, I figure I should at least be comfortable running the downhills so I won’t end up hiking the entire distance. I tried it out on my favorite Tiger Mountain loop (High School Trail -> Section Line Trail -> down WT3 -> Bus Trail -> Powerline back to High School) on Saturday. Somehow I forget how steep the upper Section Line trail is every time I go – this must be the same kind of amnesia that makes women choose to endure childbirth more than once – so I crawled my way to the top, totally living up to my blog name.

I thought I would be lightning-fast on the downhills, but it’s not as easy as I had thought. I immediately got a nagging side stitch and had to stop and walk. After this had happened several times, I realized that I was concentrating so hard on landing correctly (and not slipping on the snot-slick leaves) that I was holding my breath. Once I relaxed and kept chest open and shoulders back, the side stitch went away.

When we got back to the car, I was totally pooped, more so than after my hikes this summer which were twice as long and had more elevation gain. It was a really good kind of tired though, and the following two days of DOMS in all my little stabilizer muscles told me that I really was teaching my body some brand new tricks.

Here’s my Strava feed for the run. As you can see, I use the term “run” loosely, as I’m 100% sure that most of my TNAB friends could hike that downhill and finish faster than I did…but everybody’s got to start somewhere, and as long as I am out there and I’m having fun, I refuse to be embarrassed about my pace. (Mostly.) My main goal now isn’t to get a faster running pace, but to be able to sustain that pace on the flats and downhills without having to stop and walk so often. I’m pretty sure that 60% of that battle is mental, as I tend to underestimate my body’s capabilities.

– Section Line Loop | 7.5 miles | 2400 feet elevation gain –

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  • Reply Mary October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Jealous of your trails!

    How the heck do I follow this blog?

  • Reply Linda Barber October 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Aren’t most of our battles mental? ;) You’ve taken the first step: signing up for the race. Which is so much more than I can say for myself… Let’s see, the last time I went for a run was in 2010… Yikes.

    Love coming by and reading about your hikes. And the photography is always amazing!

  • Reply ewb October 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Hey, saw you on Strava – cool! I haven’t actually posted anything there, just signed up to watch Scotty’s numbers. That’s a great time for that route on Tiger – that section line is steep, and your exit down the main 3 and past the bus is soooo long. You’re right about the downhill bits taking time and practice. I always forget to breathe coming down and my stitch alarm goes off each time to remind me. Deep breaths, fast exhales, and arms above my head usually clears it up quickly. Best of luck!

  • Reply Juliann November 5, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I am not overly fond of downhills and last week I went to a cross fit class with a lot of squats so my runs this weekend were really painful when it came to the down hill places. I am hoping to get to the Woodinville section of the powerline trail in the next few months to get more hill work done. Love your photos!

  • Reply Ingunn November 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Mary: Hah, everytime I read your blog, I’m jealous of *your* trails! I’ll see if there’s a follow plugin I can install.

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