A confession….I’m a heel striker…..OMG!!!, it’s like I committed a crime!
Thanx to a book – Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run – the heel strike phobia became a thing….
for some reason we were all told that midfoot strike was the cure for everything……
I read, I think I’m the only person in the world that didn’t like the book; McDougall almost turned the Tarahmaras into a circus side show, which was just wrong –
Then at some point I stood at the finish line of a few marathons…..
For more than a few times, I ran just half marathons and so once I was done I’d have some spare time and would watch the faster runners, and you know what? According to people like McDougall, they’re all doing it wrong….heel strikers, midfoot strikers and toe runners, there’s no standard that you could point to and say, ah ha! they’re all midfoot strikers!…..
I seem to recall that Brooks I think did the same thing with a collection of pictures taken at the end of a marathon (I think Boston?) and it revealed the same thing……with that evidence, shouldn’t all those elite runners have been injured?….Nah.
The truth is, we run the way we run……I’ll paraphrase a Kilian Jornet quote here , there’s a right way for everyone to run, but that’s just not the same way for everyone…….the only think to watch for is where your foot lands…..beneath our center of gravity….underneath you….
I used to think that sprinters took huge steps for instance, they do have a huge kick, but if you watched Canadian Sage Watson rock the anchor leg of the women’s 4 X 400 relay at this summer’s Olympics, you’ll have noted that her speed was due to leg turn over, and not a huge stride…those feet landed right beneath her with every step
our stride has few complex movements and realities…one, a perfect form is a controlled fall….leaning forward from our ankles isn’t always easy (us North Americans usually have really stiff ankles/achilles tendons.)
Our feetz go through a complex motion with every step we take, which begins at that heel…..that’s why your shoes wear out on the inside of that heel, usually on the outside (so foolin’ people into thinking they under pronate/supinate)…….then our foot normally rolls out (supinates) then rolls inwards (pronates) and then the foot pushes off the toe/front, it’s not a straight heel to toe transition as many seem to think….which is why a lot of shoe manufacturers are changing things up….letting the body do what it has evolved to do!
Brooks, Hoka One One, have what we would have at one point called stability shoes…but models like the Brooks’ Adrealine, the Cloud Flyer from of course On, and Hoka‘s Arahi guide rather than force your transition…..On Cloud Flyer uses their pods to process that movement by hardening and softing the right pods to accomplish that guidence….Brooks uses guide rails on both the inside and outside of the sole to do the same….Hoka uses their structural support system (a J plate – they call it) ….but rather than a huge piece of rubber or plastic that shoes have traditionally used to force feet from pronating; these shoes guide, let the feet, the ankles and the knees move through a natural movement…..a good thing.
We always try to make running more complex than it really is, we’ve been doing it for a long time…..that controlled fall, that running with gravity rather than against it is the thing, not heel vs midfoot strike…..
Just don’t overstride…that’s where the heel strike most likely will happen and is a problem…lead with the knee, in fact just move those quads, let the rest of the leg below the knee just land…let that lead foot, um lead, and yeah, the heel strikes, it stops the movement, and sends a shock wave up from the heel to the top of your head….so, if you lean slightly forward, that just will not happen….see below...
Running is a science in some ways (hydration, nutrition, strength, our head) but the movement…….nature and evolution got us to this point….yeah, that part is right, we are born to run……it’s a process of learning what works…..but it’s just on you…
if it works for the elites, actually just watch what the elites do…..if it works for them, why would you do any different?