Once you start to really get into running and adding more miles or increasing speed, your running form becomes a focus. There are a lot of buzz words when it comes to running form and running styles. Heel striker, forefoot striker, midfoot striker, over pronator, under pronator, Chi style running … It can get confusing when you start doing research and trying to find what works best for you.
I am no magic witch doctor voodoo running guru by any means, so any of my advice is just what I have found works for me – until I change it again in an attempt to go further, faster.
After researching running form, I realized that I was already a forefoot striker, meaning whenever my foot returns to the ground, it lands on the front toward my toes on the balls of my feet. I had read that heel strikers put more stress on their knee joints since the impact of the heel sends the force up into the knee. Landing on the forefoot uses the calf muscles more as shock absorbers for the legs. You can still injure your calf muscles. More on that later.
I have found that if I position my weight forward more and out over my toes, the force of gravity helps to pull my momentum forward. I keep my chest high and my head up, it feels like the weight is really lifted off my legs and makes it easier to run faster and further. Imagine yourself on a Segway. You know, those two wheeled contraptions with the handlebars in the middle that you stand up on. Like a mall cop. You lean forward a little and you go. That is how I focus on getting my weight forward.
With any change in running style, it takes a while to get used to. I pushed a bit too hard when I was learning forefoot running and tore my calf muscle. It was very painful. Then I rushed back a little too soon and hurt the other one. I don’t have any patience, though, and never learn.
So next run, picture yourself chasing a punk hooligan kid around the mall on a Segway.