After seven runless days and general unhealthy living I hit the road again this morning. Ten deliberately slow miles, understandably sluggish, down to Blackrock and back. And a lovely, mild day it was for a run. I’m now hopefully back in the groove and I’ll try to regain my best running form leading up to Wexford.
En route I listened to Phedippidations 178. I was all ears as Steve decided to talk about running ‘form’ and, specifically how to increase stride length. As a track & field coach I was pleased that Steve decided to tackle the subject. Most road runners just sort of…run, without thinking of how they might make things easier on themselves, or how to improve.
I was pleased that Steve had something to say on the recovery leg – the work that the foot does behind the body after leaving the ground. Actively working on the recovery leg will undoubtedly increase stride length. And even though this may only be by a very small amount, these small amounts will add up in the course of a run. It is an aspect that too few track coaches emphasise, and hardly any endurance coaches.
Strides (US – striders) were however inadequately covered and explained. Strides should not be done over as great a distance as the length of a football field as you will not be able to maintain ‘form’. Strides are more correctly described as ‘slow sprinting’ where each aspect of the stride is emphasised – high hips, high knees, good recovery leg, arm drive etc. Maybe 5-7 repeats over 50 metres would be good.
The episode was very good, but I just cannot let the heel-striking thing rest. Steve asserts that 80% of runners are heel-strikers – source?? Then 80% of runners are WRONG! And I don’t like the outspoken proponents of POSE or Chi Running either. But at least they don’t encourage runners to land unnaturally on their heels and store up knee injuries. But Steve is man enough to admit that this is a controversial area and he has, and will, give due coverage to this subject. But to me it’s just a no-brainer.
And you just gotta smile at the news that Steve got his Boston Marathon invite after his quite naked begging in recent weeks! Now he will describe to us how he will get in marathon shape in five weeks. Good man.
Check out this web page.Amongst others, there’s a photo of the 1984 Olympic Marathon lead group at the 30k mark, and all of them look like they’re heel striking (here), and there’s one of from the 83 Rotterdam Marathon, and there’s no doubt that Carlos Lopes (in the foreground) is about to heel strike (here).To be honest, I stopped worrying about my foot strike after looking at those images.
Thank you for your comment Thomas! Great website that, and some great pics. However I believe you’ve helped me to rest my case.You can only really take the side-on shot as a good example. Gomes has just landed mid-foot and Lopes MAY be about to heel-strike. All of the others are clearly up on their toes. De Castella himself is a great example, as is Parmentier.Remember, looking at these stills, the athlete is moving quickly over the leading leg. I’ve no doubt that – if you were to move this pic on a frame or two then Lopes would be seen to be striking properly.I admit that I have a bee in my bonnet about this, just as I have with chucking away running shoes after 500 miles. I have however yet to hear any convincing counter-arguments.I’m not disputing that even a good runner will not ‘kiss’ the ground with his/her heel. But the main impact just has to be forward of the heel.(Though, looking at my 1000-mile+ runners now there is in fact considerable wear on the outside left heel, suggesting I need to practice what I preach!)