The most common question I receive as a coach is regarding gait. Are you going to fix my gait? What is the best “way” to run?
My answer to the first question is generally no, unless there is an injury that cannot be explained by too much, too fast, too soon, improper running shoes (thus an unsupported foot/ankle), weak hips/glutes, or some other imbalance.
My answer to the second question is there is no best “way” to run. Sure there are things you can do to make yourself a more economical runner but the best “way” to run is what your body already figured out on its own. I love this article written by my RRCA Coaching instructor – I could not agree more.
Thirdly, if you are running injury-free why do you want to mess with your gait? Seems counterintuitive. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Looking at my own gait, it’s not ideal. I heel strike – always have and probably always will. Look at my back foot. See how it turns inward? I’m sure when my foot makes initial contact with the ground, I’m underutilizing my big toe for support and stability.
I assume I’ve always run this way. I’ve never been injured so it works for me. This is the “way” I run.
The only issue I have, as I mentioned before, is overstriding when my pace dips to HM pace or faster. Overstriding is not good. Landing too far in front of your center of mass is not economical.
To illustrate my point, stand with your toes touching the bottom of a set of stairs. Keep one foot on the ground and place the other foot on the step in front of you. Without leaning forward, step up. Now try this again but stand about one foot away from the bottom step and try stepping up without leaning forward. Impossible, right? (Taken from Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners.)
For general tips on running form, check out the March 2013 issue of Runner’s World, page 66.
For an in depth look at gait read Chapter 8 of Anatomy for Runners (did I mention I love this book?!).