running form tips

Is Forefoot Striking a Running Best Practice?

Forefoot striking seems to be the current trend when discussing best practices for running style.

But Ironman coach doesn’t agree especially for a distance runner or IRONMAN competitor.

running foot landing

As per him, foot strike should change with speed and terrain:

  • LSD (long, slow, distance) pace: Neutral or what is referred to as “mid-foot” is recommended
  • Faster pace: In this case foot is on the ground for a shorter time, so forward lean increases.  Foot strike should be little more to the forefoot.
  • Hill running: Forefoot strike uphill and neutral, sometimes even a bit of a heel strike, when running down.

“I have studied some video of elite runners and triathletes, and observe that almost universally they have a fast leg turnover and a foot strike directly under their bodies, yet I saw forefoot running, midfoot running, and yes, even the dreaded heel strike.”

He further feels, following factors are more important:

  • Leg Turnover

running foot landing

Leg turnover in running can increase efficiency and help prevent injury. As in cycling, a turnover of 80-90RPM is a good number to aim for. This means that the right foot strikes the ground at least 80 times per minute.

#RunningHack: Listening to mucic at  80bpm will give you an audible signal to keep your feet moving. Adjust your speed and effort by altering your stride length, not your turnover.

  • Landing Spot

running foot landing

If one maintains proper running posture (shoulders relaxed, body upright with a bit of a forward lean, eyes focused on a spot 8-10 meters ahead), then the foot should land under the body.

If the foot strikes the ground too far forward then you experience a braking effect. If it strikes too far behind, the full force of the leg firing is not accessible and hamstring injury is at risk.

What you need is just to pay “close attention”? Yes, it’s that simple.

By paying close attention to posture, leg turnover, and keeping the foot landing and passing under one’s moving body, the rest will take care of itself based on speed, terrain, ankle flexibility, and body structure.

If you want to implement this, let our running coach help you.

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Andrew Peabody is an IRONMAN Certified Coach, a multiple IRONMAN podium finisher, and the founder of BreakawayMultisport located in Boulder, Colorado.