On form

Twice last week I had people comment on my running form. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had comments, but it was notable that it happened twice in two very different situations in the same week.

The first was at our club hill repeats workout where the comment was “I swear you were floating up the hills”. I credit the forefoot strike for this – being used to that on the flat helps with the uphill where it seems the default position for your foot strike is on the forefoot (or perhaps that’s just me, because that’s the way I run).

The second was at the gym – I don’t usually run at the gym (I run to the gym, but not at the gym), but I wanted to get there early before the Bodypump class to talk to someone about membership options for my wife. It turns out they all happened to be in a meeting so I had a spare 15 minutes and decided to head to the treadmill. I chose to concentrate on thinking about my barefoot form (I’ve been adding short barefoot runs to my regular runs lately) so took off my shoes (would have liked to take my socks off too, but I wasn’t sure how well that would go down) and set the treadmill at a leisurely 10 minute mile pace.

After 15 minutes I got off and put my shoes on, and just as I was done a girl came over and told me she happened to be on the treadmill behind me and thought I had amazing form. She told me she had read “Born to Run” (apparently that’s a requirement for the whole barefoot/minimalist running thing, but I still haven’t read it) and was really keen to change her form. I told her about my transition (very slowly, running only in my Vibrams, taking it back a step if necessary), and about how I’ve been running this way for 2.5 years and that I have successfully increased my distances, got faster, and am preparing for my first marathon.

I hope she manages to achieve what she wants. She did say she would probably go with transitional shoes rather than straight to the real minimalist shoe, but as I have no experience of that, and don’t know anyone who transitioned that way, I couldn’t really give her any advice. Does anyone reading this know of any success stories? Is there a key to success?

I do know that a 100% focus on minimalist footwear made it work for me (to the point where I felt very uncomfortable in my old work shoes), so it would be natural for me to suggest that sort of commitment, but I know that’s not necessarily the right thing for everyone. Any thoughts in case I bump into her again?

 

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2 Responses to On form

  1. barefoottc says:

    Wow, two comments about your running form, that’s great! You should really get someone to video you running now…you’ll be a YouTube superstar! I can’t believe you haven’t yet read Born To Run – make it a goal for June?! After I read it, I read it again straight away!

    As for transitioning, I went from heel striking to forefoot running form (I did this after reading Born To Run by the way!) and at the same time, transitioned slowly from ‘normal’ running trainers with a big heel to 4mm differential running shoes combined with some barefoot running, and now I have added a pair of zero drop running shoes to my wardrobe. So, in summary, I would say to her, if you bump into her again, that it is sensible to transition slowly and do some proper barefooting too, but again, do it in really short distances to begin with due to the muscles in the lower legs being so weak from relying on running shoe cushioning to do their job for you. During my transition from heel striking to forefoot landing, I noticed huge aches in my lower legs initially (even after running short distances), but now I’ve got really defined lower legs and no longer have any pain in my heel that I was getting in the lead up to my half marathon when I did lots of training and was heel-striking.

    Now I try to go minimal in every shoe purchase I make, and tend to go round the house barefoot or in socks – it is so much nicer than having my feet squeezed into shoes all day!

    • runninginnj says:

      Thanks for such a detailed response. Good to know that the transitional shoes worked out for you – I think you were right to throw in some barefoot too as that is bound to have helped with form.

      I’ve never bothered to video my running, but perhaps I should just to see what I can discover from it.

      And, as for reading “Born to Run”, I have so many books that I haven’t got round to reading (because of running and kids mainly) that it will be a while before I get to it, if I ever do.

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