I have read with interest a lot of threads about the pro's & con's of this so decided to have a go today.
I have run 5.5 miles at approx 9 min mile & found that the hills are a lot easier but it is going to take a while to get used to running this style on the flat & downhill. My calf's are a little sore tonight but I have non of the tempoary mild knee / foot discomfort I usually get for a few hours post run.
I am tempted to persevere with this as it seems to take less effort to maintain a reasonable pace & may avoid the "wall" I have a 20 mile & flm to do next year (first time!)
Has anyone successfully adopted this running style & has it helped with their running peformance / endurance?
"Taking off" from forefoot first instead of heel (uses calf muscle like a spring so i'm told)
I've long felt that the shoe companies have over complicated shoe design - go back to the 50s and 60s where runners like Jim Peters were wearing plimsolls - the 80s running boom had the big guys falling over themselves to invent cushioning and energy return systems and charging us a fortune for the privilege - now people are trying to persuade us that minimalist works - but in my day that was just a pair of racing flats like flexible and no cushioning - and all this stuff about pose and chi running is just basically what track runners have always been coached to do - but once again we are charged a fortune for the lessons -
My rant over!!!
My brother lives in the Peak District so I have had the pleasure of running up South head & Eccles pike. Quite an achievement for me living in the much less undulating Midlands!
I started as probably most of us did ...as a road runner but drifted into fell and trail running to the point that I almost never ran on the road. By the very nature of fell shoes they are "minimal" in terms of cushioning and construction (although invo8 moved things along from the stock Walsh PB option) and over the years (and I mean about 6 years), I noticed that the wear pattern on all my shoes (including work shoes) moved from the heel to the forefoot. I reckon part of "natural" running call it pose, chi, barefoot or whatever else should also refer to surface as well as shoe.
When I do go back to racing on the road (my longest road run before London last year was a 10 miler ...but lots of 4 hour+ hill / trail runs) I found it "easier" ....in the head at least. I also took another 8 minutes of my previous marathon PB to cross the line in 3:09:51.
Guess what I am trying to say is the wider ideal of natural running has certainly worked for me.
ps - I also do a lot of gym work (body pump and body attack) in a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers to help the core and to maintain foot strength
Squeakz - I think you made a good point when you said that you naturally run on your forefoot. I am the same and I often get asked about minimalist shoes etc. To be honest, my personal opinion is you can change how you run with great concentration and a willing to build up slowly. On the other hand why change something you do naturally? I am right handed and have never considered changing that!
The barefoot thinking goes back a long way when people were typically small, light and run trails the whole time. They most likely weren't looking at pounding out 50 - 100 mile training weeks on the road! I personally weight about 63kg and run as little road as possible, twice a week usually with the club. A guy who weighs 85kg (easily possible without being overweight either) and runs 5 days a week all on road is most likely not going to get away with the same shoe I wear.
Anyway, I think your natural stride is most likely the best one and I wouldn't look too hard at changing it unless you are seeking a resolution to a re-occuring injury or similar.
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