Ian Sharman on Racing Massive Downhills (and in costumes)

Have you ever noticed that hilly races make you a lot more sore than flat races?

mountain landscape

It should come as no surprise: hills are more stressful. You fight gravity on the way up and use it to your advantage on the way down.

But running with gravity – faster, with less effort – has a cost: it causes much more substantial eccentric muscle contractions.

Those eccentric contractions cause dramatically higher levels of muscle damage because the muscles lengthen at the same time they’re under heavy load.

A simple analogy is to think of a bicep curl. When you’re lower the weight, the bicep is lengthening while at the same time holding onto the dumbbell. It’s performing an eccentric contraction.

You can thank that type of contraction for why your quads feel like bricks after a long, hilly race.

But what about races that are entirely downhill?

What if there are no uphills – just one, really long downhill from start to finish?

That, my friend, is a tough race.

And it’s exactly the type of marathon that Ian Sharman ran to run an 11-minute PR last month.

He’s here on the SR podcast to talk about this race and how he prepared for it.

How Ian Sharman Ran a 2:21 Downhill Marathon

I met Ian in August, 2016 one day before the Leadville Trail 100. We got coffee with a friend of ours and then watched a Beer Mile (it took place on the road behind us in the above picture).

Ian officiated – starting the race and cheering on runners as they raced and chugged beers.

It was awesome:

Two days later, Ian crossed the finish line of the Leadville Trail 100 in first place – his third victory.

He’s no slouch in the world of ultra running. In fact, he’s one of the best ultramarathoners in the world:

  • 3 x winner (and course record holder) of the Rocky Raccoon 100
  • 3 x winner of the Leadville Trail 100
  • Completed about 200 ultras and 100+ marathons (!)
  • Record Holder – Grand Slam of Ultrarunning
  • 7 x silver medalist at the Comrades Marathon

And over the last year, I’ve been fortunate to work with Ian on a few different projects:

  1. He contributed a training case study that highlighted his toughest workouts before Leadville.
  2. And he shared his best injury advice in the Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery.

Now he’s back to talk about running an 11+ minute personal best at the Mt. Charleston Marathon.

But it’s not all training geekery. Did you know Ian has run dozens of marathons in costumes?

In fact, he’s run a 2:40 marathon as Spider Man!

This is going to be fun 🙂

Listen to the show on iTunes or, if you have an Android device, on Stitcher.

Show Resources & Links:

Ian has long been a friend of Strength Running, giving us his time and expertise. I hope that you’ll thank him on Twitter 🙂

And if you enjoy the SR podcast, might I be willing to coach you to an honest review on iTunes?!?

You’re the best.

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Comments

  1. I’ve run downhill before … the first time hurts a lot for a while afterward … great interview!