I’ve been reading “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek, a famous ultra runner. My brother strongly recommended the book as it spoke about his journey to becoming an ultra marathon champion while going on a plant based diet. There were running tips and food recopies after every chapter; and I thought this short write up on “landing zone” was really interesting in a time where minimalist shoes are getting very very popular.
In an ideal world, all runners would land on their forefoot or mid foot when they run. In an ideal world, though, all runners would be lean, healthy , and have spent most of their lives clocking 5 minute miles.
There’s no question that forefoot striking is more efficient than heel striking. it uses the elasticity of the Achilles tendon and the arch of the foot to translate the body’s downward force into forward motion. Less energy is lost to the ground. It’s also a given that landing on the forefoot, as barefoot runners do, prevents the heel striking that cushioned shoes enable, which can lead to so many joint and tendon injuries.
But it’s also true that it’s not a perfect world. Beginners run. Out of shape people run. And for them forefoot striking might increase the risk of tendonitis or or other soft tissue injury. That’s especially true for anyone who hasn’t grown up running barefoot through rural Kenya.
Most researchers would say that a mid foot landing is the most efficient and shock absorbing technique. but there are people who fall on both ends of the spectrum- heel strikers and those who run on the balls of their feet – and they do fine.
What’s important isn’t what part of the foot you strike but where it strikes. it should land slightly in front of your center or mass or right underneath it. When you have a high stride rate and land with the body centered over the foot, you won’t be slamming down hard, even if you connect with the heel.