The Striker War
For runners and others alike, this can get heated.
I read many articles and chat with a lot of runners about foot strike. I know, nothing better to talk about, hey triathlete? I have noticed that the overall tone has changed in the last couple of months from ‘cool, I think that would be great for me” to “oh, that is just a fad”. I figured that it may be time to share my experience. So here I go.
First and foremost, I am not an expert. I am not educated in Sports Medicine, nor am I sub 2:30 marathoner. I am just a regular guy who decided that enough was enough with nagging injuries and tried something different
To sum up what I had been taught up to that point in my life; pronation (over and under), arch height, heel strike, cushioned shoes, and all that jazz. Definition of Insanity – Doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result.
After injuring my knee on a 5k run, see this post for more details, I took my physio’s advice and began looking at my foot strike as the source of my injury. I won’t bore you with the details as there are so many other options for education on this very internet. Like everything else, I started experimenting on my own. I would head out for run, trying hard to concentrate on striking the ground with the ball of my foot, instead of the heel. Man was it tough; it felt unnatural. It wasn’t until I read “Born to Run” that I realized that if it felt good the first time, I was doing it wrong.
Almost immediately, things got better.
I was feeling lighter on my feet, and my injuries went away. My knees, which I had hurt playing baseball as a kid, no longer ached after a 7-8km run. I eventually worked my way up to 18km training runs in anticipation for the half marathon at Ironman 70.3 Calgary. I finished that race with no muscle issues. Sure I was sore, but I was able to race in an Olympic distance 2 weeks after.
One part that I changed that made an immediate difference; my shoes. It is tough to strike with your mid foot when your heel is 12mm higher. I am not saying it can’t be done, I see many people doing it, but it isn’t easy. Nor am I suggesting that footwear alone will solve all your problems. It took me almost a year and a lot of work to really get comfortable.
I won’t offer step-by-step instructions on how to transition because there are so many ways to do it, again, mostly available on this thing called the internet. All I am saying is that it worked for me, so it could work for you.
To show the difference, here is a couple of shots. Different races, the first from Lake Chaparral (Sprint), and the second from Ironman 70.3 Calgary, one year apart. Notice that even though I am wearing a ‘natural running shoe’, I am still predominantly striking with my heel in Chaparral. Another story for another day.
Question: What are your thoughts, is the mid-foot strike a fad?