Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transitioning from Forefoot to Mid-foot

Long story short, after working closely with a coach since Sunday, we've verified that I practically run on my toes. My forefoot strike is extreme and the angle of my foot coming down is too extreme and needs to be leveled out a bit. I'm putting tremendous pressure on my Achilles tendon and plantar muscle. What's amazing is that I haven't injured myself but I do have Achilles pain right after a hard run but it goes away within hours. However, since working on a transition to a mid-foot strike, I have no pain after I run and I'm running faster times with less effort.

I think one of mentors was right when he said it takes 3 years of consistent running, then at that point, you start to learn how to run. In the last 2 months, I've identified this issue and the fact that I wasn't running straight, balanced and aligned which I've fixed and it had a major impact on improving my running (although I didn't exhibit good alignment at the 5k race this past Saturday).

This article by Steve Magness really got my attention:

I've gone back to really working on my core and hip extensions. On my run yesterday and today, I could already feel my stride lengthen while still landing balanced and under the body. The trick is finding the optimal balance of vertical and horizontal lift coming off the ground, in the air, and landing.

The removing a tremendous amount of stress and pressure by transitioning to more of a mid-foot landing. I use the terms "forefoot," "mid-foot," and "ball of foot," a bit loosely because I think those terms cause incredible confusion in the running community. And, in many circumstances, we are talking about small degrees like landing on the front of the ball of foot, middle of the ball of foot of near the rear of the ball of foot (I'll stop b/c even that can be confusing). Ultimately, for me, I'm landing on the ball of foot with the slightest amount of space before my heel comes down as opposed to a more severe forefoot landing where my heel had a long way to come down and/or didn't touch the ground at all.

I'm not saying a forefoot landing is bad as I don't know that much about bio-mechanics but I'll say this. As a 41 yr. old runner who only started running at 38 yrs. of age, it may be too much to ask to move to a severe forefoot landing . . . it may be too big of an adjustment after 38 yrs. of abusing my body in bad shoes.

I'm still amazed that I've run this way without major injury for over 1 yr. but now that I'm trying to increase performance, speed and efficiency, it's really cool finding all these areas where you can continue to improve.



  1. Very interesting post. I have felt too much pain in my AT in the mornings and around the ankle as well to run on a constant basis. It has only happened in last two or three months or about the time that I have run more consistently in my VFF. I too have wondered if I am putting too much pressure on my forefoot when I land. Yes I know about the slow transition process and thought I was doing well until this pain cropped up. I am 46 and have been running consistently about 3 years, although the last 1 with a different landing. Can my body handle the shock? Hope so because the days are so much better when I can get out and run. Hopefully the gait analysis I have scheduled will shed so light to the causes of pain and how to make it go away. Thanks for your blog, HHH.


  2. Scott, sounds like we have some similar experiences. The hip extension is really interesting yet very difficult to describe. I've notice a huge difference by moving a bit off the forefoot stride but, like you, I'm looking for a good video gait analysis.



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