Saturday, April 30, 2011

Forefoot Striking and What is Truly Natural Running

I finally signed up for the I-Drive 5K Run on Saturday, May 7th.  That's only a week away and I also went out and bought myself a new pair of running shoes.

The pair that I have been using are Asics Gel Nimbus 11's.  I am a forefoot striker and these worked well for me, but they have literally worn out their welcome.  As you can see from the picture below, the heels are barely scuffed, yet the forefoot area is worn through.  This is my left shoe, which is in worse condition than my right.  At the top, you can see that 2 whole pads are completely gone.


I don't think that can be too good for my feet and legs.  Now, I believe that it is natural to run with your forefoot striking first while the majority of runners use the heel striking form.  This has been explained by many people on blogs, in books and if you don't come to it naturally yourself, just look at nature around us.  Sure, we walk upright and that is different than other animals.  Let's look at the easiest examples to be found.  Cats and dogs.  They always walk and run on their forefeet.  Their heels rarely touch the ground.  See below.



I created the cat diagram and I found the dog diagram, but you can see what I am trying to show.  We, humans, are the oddballs that are walking on our heels/ankles.  I wonder if we are loosing power and speed this way.

In any case, running au natural is becoming the latest hot topic in running.  This makes sense if you plan on running on clay, sand, grass, or dirt.  That would be completely natural.  I do tend to believe that people are taking it overboard when they try to run on sidewalks or streets barefoot, though.  The last time I checked, pavement of any kind is not made in nature.  Thus, it behooves us to wear appropriate footwear for such endeavors.  I will continue to run on my forefeet, but I will not run barefoot on pavements.

Enough already.  I am very excited to have a new pair of running shoes.  You don't realize how old your shoes are until you put on a pair of new ones.  That's for sure.  Not that I was trying to do this purposely, but I stuck with the Asics cloud theme.  I had Gel Nimbus 11's and this time I got Gel Cumulus 12's.  Check 'em out...


If I can get up in the morning all goes well, I will be trying them out tomorrow morning for a long run.



5 comments:

danny said...

Maybe humans were meant to run on their forefeet, but you gotta be kidding me with this bipedal versus quadrupedal analogy.

Goodluck with the new Asics - I use to have one of those models, but I don't pay much attention model to model (heck or even make to make). And goodluck on the 5K too - hope you have just as much success at it as I had at my last 5K.

Erika said...

My performance coach is training to to land on the forefoot...you are supposed to! Its the most energy efficient and better for your joints b/c of less impact. He would say good job!

NattyBumpo said...

Some of my party guests last night were very nearly quadrupedal on their way to their homes around the neighborhood...

I have been working on modifying my form, and when I am climbing hills I definitely find it easier to run "on my toes" on the steeper sections. I am going to work on migrating to a more fore-footed strike over time, but I'm not going to rush into it. I think that-rushing into form changes-may have contributed to some of my injuries last summer.

brandontenor said...

The problem with the shoe you have is that you are forced to plantar flex (point your toes) to overcome the massive ramp angle. To take advantage of your natural forefoot/midfoot strike you should really be in something that is almost flat.

Doug said...

I used to alternate the way I ran in high school. In cross country, I ran more on my heels and in track, I ran on my forefoot. I stopped running for over 10 years and put on a little weight. I had to start over a few years ago. At that time, I started using the forefoot strike method and didn't read about it or think into it. I just started doing it, because my knees didn't hurt as much this way.

Brandon, regarding my shoes, hypothetically I agree with you 100 percent. I tried some flats and there wasn't enough cushion for my weight. It hurt my feet after only a few strides. Until I drop down a few more pounds (about 15-20), I will have to continue with the style of shoes I am using, albeit, not as efficient as possible.