Photos don’t lie, but they can be misleading. An athlete who I train sent me a message saying that after she saw her photos from a recent race, she really needs to work on her running form. I looked at the photos and they did look like she was overextending her stride and heel striking. While a heel strike is not necessarily bad running form, the over extension, over striding is. But those photos don’t tell the whole story. If you watch videos of top runners, Meb Keflezighi for example, and freeze-frame it when his front foot is getting ready to hit the ground, it looks like he will heel strike, with his leg more extended than what it should be, out in front of his body. But in those milliseconds before impact, his foot completes the gait cycle and is squarely under his center of gravity, landing mid- to-forefoot.
To prove that photos can be misleading, see below.
This photo MAY look like I am pooping my pants, but in reality, I was just running hard and my shorts were totally safe.
On the other hand, Shane was was not so fortunate. Sorry, buddy.
Back on topic.
Since she was concerned, I gave her a couple things to work on during her easy runs. First was to slow down. If you are going too fast, you increase your chance of injury. Second was to increase her cadence. More steps per minute. What this does is shortens your stride and forces you to land more toward your center of gravity. Once you get used to doing this, it actually makes your easy runs feel easier, lighter on your feet, and less like you are pounding the pavement. A good way to check your cadence is to time yourself for one minute and count how many times your right foot hits the ground. Then multiply by two. That is your cadence. Use this as a baseline and see if you can increase it by a few steps each easy run for a few days until you find the cadence that feels just right. Third was to not worry about how her form looks on camera. Everyone runs different and a photo at the wrong time can exaggerate every little flaw in your running form.
Just smile, relax and run – even when there are no cameras pointed at you.