A quick glance around the starting line would show that I did not look like most trail runners, who tended to be short and muscular (I have the typical build of a 1500/5000m specialist - which I was). The idea seemed to be that the more muscle you had, the less the damage of hills - specifically downhills - had an effect. Squats, lunges and a ton of downhill running seemed to be the answer.
Then, a few years later, a new subtype of trail runner started to appear, the small light marathoner type, which, while few in number, were starting to fill the upper ranks. And they were not doing the muscular work of the others. They were still running hills, but emphasizing the uphill (because one spends more time going uphill in a race than down, making that a priority) and running easily downhill. Because of the sheer volume of hills run, plenty of downhill work was being done, but done easily.
|Kaci Lickteig, reportedly 5'3" and 90 lbs.|
The answer seems to be, then, according to the new idea, to run a lot of very technical hills, but to run hard uphill only. Being able to run technical downhill when tired from the uphill is key. I'm now seeking out hills where one can run long and gradual uphill, but steep and technical downhill (for locals, running Afton's gravel road up to the campground and down the now rutted steep campground hill seems best at 1.6 miles per loop and 300 feet of climb).
Oddly, the rehab work I've been doing on my Achilles tendons which has strengthened the small peroneal and foot flexor muscles may be more important than strengthening the large quadriceps and hip flexors; because these muscles are small, they tire easily.
It's a strange new world, if this is correct. If it turns out to be wrong, the alternative is box jumps. In the scientific literature, the way DOMS is generated in studies is doing 100 jumps off a one meter box. Logically, if one could slowly build up to tht, DOMS would not occur. This would be a small amount of time and efoort, but the amount of recovery time might be prohibitive.