Friday, April 13, 2012

Update on Stride Length and Running Form

Well it has been a little over seven weeks since I started working on changing over from a heal toe strike to a mid-foot fore-foot strike. I have also been working on my stride turnover rate going from about 80 up to 90 or higher.

The first week of running in this new style was humbling! I was pretty good at keeping the mid-foot strike but often drifted back into my old turnover rate. I really had to concentrate on the faster turnover rate especially since I grew tired more quickly from working my muscles in a slightly different way. After about two weeks I began to feel more comfortable running this way and did not have to concentrate nearly as hard on my form as it became more natural.

I started this new running form in my old stability shoes and orthotics.  After about 4 weeks I bought a new pair of shoes designed specifically for a mid-foot strike. They are Brooks Pure Flow shoes and they are really light weight and feel great. I knew from the start that I wanted try and learn to run in them without my present orthotics. In order to avoid injury I would have to start running in them for short distances first and should probably avoid hills as much as possible. My first run in them was only four miles. They felt a little strange to me on the first mile but by the second mile I was in love with them. After my run I felt great and had no problems. I had not been doing any leg strengthening work and decided to do a short workout after the run. The next day I knew better but decided since I felt good that I would try and do a twelve mile run in my new shoes and it would include about 700 feet of both uphill and downhill. I started with a slight uphill for about a half mile and then a pretty good downhill for the next half mile. Still felt great. I then had some relatively flat but slightly undulating ground to run over through mile 2.5 from there I had mostly downhill again for the next 1.8 miles and then a gradual uphill for about a mile then a pretty tough uphill for another few miles. By the time I had reached 7 miles I knew that I was in trouble with some lower leg and foot pain. I finally ended up walking 6.3 miles back home and did that at too fast a pace also. I spent the next two days not running at all as I was too sore. Lesson learned, I hope! The stability shoes had really babied me as far as having to use foot strength in my running form. I now found that I felt the road much more and that my lower leg muscles became fatigued much sooner in my run with the new shoes.

Since that second run I have run three more times in my new shoes and the rest of my running has been in my old shoes with orthotics. I can tell that it is going to take a while to build the strength to run longer distances in my new shoes without the orthotics, but I am confident that it will pay off in the long run. Pun intended!

Since starting this new form of running my average pace per mile on my normal daily run, at the same heart rate, has gotten faster by about 20 seconds per mile. I am not sure this is all do to the new running form, but I am sure that most of it certainly is. 20 seconds per mile in just 6 weeks is a pretty significant achievement. I will continue to gradually add mileage in my new running shoes and running form. I don't quite expect the same dramatic results over the next 6-8 weeks but I do expect to improve.

Happy trails,



  1. Russ,
    You may find that running some short strides barefoot on the grass (just a few to start because you will be sore), will help strengthen your lower legs. Back when I was more competitive than I am now, that was a regular part of my running routine. I am going to start back up again if it ever gets warm enough here to do it. (Be sure to check the area first for debris and sticky weeds.)

    1. Thanks Lori, Do you think it would be alright to do after speedwork at Drayson Center or would that be too much?

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