What goes up must come down is the saying and in the Mount Panorama Punish this is very true indeed! At the “King of the Mountain” point you begin the 3km or so descent back to the finish line. This section is difficult on many levels, it has some little ups, big changes in gradient (steepness) and a few bends and turns to navigate. Getting this section right will be tricky and the following point will help with this happening:
1) Relax: running with calmness down the hill is very important to conserving energy, protecting your joints and keeping your quad muscles intact for the push into the finish. Minimising breaking (jolting steps), keeping a natural stride and absorbing impact through bending your knees/hips/ankles on the steeper sections are things to practice in your hill sessions in the next week or two. Becoming comfortable running down will lead to an enjoyable descent on race day.
2) Take the best line: the track has a higher side, steeper drops, etc. that will affect how you feel going down, particularly your confidence in footing and pace. Depending on what part of the track you’re at you will need to run closer to the top (right side) especially down through the various corners across the top avoiding the steep dips and drops. On other sections running in the middle of the road or closer to inside (left) side of the track will offer you a more direct and fast paced descent down the hill to the finish. Don’t be afraid to change from one line to the next to make sure you give yourself the best chance of running well.
3) Practice: running downhill at speed/effort is definitely something you need to practice in training in advance to race day. In the next week, put a few hard downs in your hill reps, or better still complete a session where you run up slowly at easy effort and push hard back down the hill. Adding some steeper hills (done on road) into your downhill program would be highly recommended, and the closer to what you’ll expect on race day the better.
4) Be a kid: watching a kid run downhill is often the best example of what to do. They pick the best line, relax and flow down the hill will great grace and simplicity. Try and tap into your inner child and get back to that downhill running of yester-year. Simply put, run every step on its own accord and have fun bombing down the most famous descent in Australian motor sport!
Stay tuned for my next training tip, Preparing your race. Remember, each week at 6pm UP Coaching Bathurst meets with a fully coached training session focused on preparing for the Mount Panorama Punish. Everyone is welcome and catered for.