There’s been a lot of discussion over running forms in the last few years, especially after the bare-foot running craze started to take hold. The most recent Runners World issue features an article debating whether running form matters. You have your mid-foot strikers and your heel strikers, and studies have shown that landing on the mid-foot is much more powerful than landing on the heel, as most of the energy is transfered to the calf and quads for better push-off, as opposed to absorbed by the bones.
So to test out the mechanics, J&I have been experimenting with running landing on our mid-foot during our last few runs. What we’ve discovered is that mid-foot striking is more forgiving on the legs and allows you to run faster using the same level of effort. For example, when we did our 9 miles today, we ran on average 10 seconds faster per mile than we did last week. However, changing the strike pattern isn’t as easy as flipping the light switch. It takes effort and practice.
Some believe that we’re born to run landing on our mid-foot, however, with the advent of cushioning running shoes with high heel to toe ratio, we’ve been ‘forced’ to land on our heels leading to more injuries (e.g., shin splints, achilles tendonitis); and thinking back, my injury started after I had switched over to the NB 1060s (a neutral cushioning shoe) from the NB 900s (light weight racing shoe). I thought I had did myself a favor by switching, but instead cost me a whole 6 months of running. So I’m back to the racing trainers (I’m not quite ready for the Vibram Fives, although I LOVE the colors on their newest women’s Bikila), hoping that I’ll run faster, injury-free.