Adapting to more natural running

I’m trying to improve my running stride, and become more of a mid to fore-foot striker as opposed to a heel striker. I run in Vibram FiveFingers every now and then, but since I’m training for another Ironman next year, and my first ultra-marathon in December, I also run in “normal” running shoes for most of my miles. I worry about putting too much load on my feet training in just the Vibram’s.

While running today in my normal shoes (Mizuno Waverider’s) I made a conscious effort to improve and focus on my stride. After watching a series of videos, including this clinic by Terra Plana and some videos by Newton running shoes on Youtube, I’ve decided that regardless of the shoe that I wear, I can be in control of my form if I pay more attention to it. It will take some adaptation time before it becomes second nature. I haven’t purchased Newton’s yet, but here is a good video on some running form basics (ignore the marketing pitch and cheesy music!):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fBh2qH4QbM]

I focused on the following while running today:

  • Taking shorter strides (I’d estimate about 30% shorter)
  • Having a faster turnover of my legs (at least 30-50% faster)
  • Touching down lightly on my forefoot with each step
  • Landing with most of my weight/load on my mid-foot (after the forefoot hits)
  • Using more of my core and hips to move me forward as opposed to calves/legs
  • Gazing forward (about 20 yards)
  • Relaxing my shoulders and pulling them back a little (so my chest is open and not hunched)
  • Slight tuck of the tailbone
  • Slight lead forward at the hips (very subtle)

This seems like a lot to keep track of, but it was very simple. It took some mindfulness, but I noticed a big difference. My feet were more tired than normal and I think in general it took more energy to run like this, but I’m assuming this is just adaptation at work. Once I get all the little muscles in my feet working properly and the posture becomes more natural, I’m hoping that the effort should become more effortless.