One of the the things I have learned in having a couple of running video analyses is that I am a pronounced heel striker. Very pronounced. Now, for years, I haven't thought much of it, other than that is the way I run, so that is it. But, after reading various blog posts (such as this one at Runblogger.com and JG here) Runners World this month, I have given much more thought about footstriking as a means to avoid injury. For those who aren't keeping assiduous track, over last several years I have had ITB issues, PFS, and a couple of foot injuries. I am not looking to change my form to get faster; I think I can get faster by training. No, I am interested in form as a means to reduce stress and thus reduce injury.
I am not a proponent of barefoot running and forefoot striking. I think that is just too radical of a change and one I could never fully implement. If that means I am doomed to never compete at the highest level, so be it. Instead, one thing every form guru seems to agree on is that overstriding is bad. Overstriding -- landing too far ahead of your body -- is bad form in that it translates force through the leg, ankle and knee and it causes deceleration as it brakes your forward momentum. Thus, no matter where you land on your foot overstriding is too be avoided. And overstriding is most common in heel strikers.
I run at the gym on a treadmill next to a mirror so I can see my form. It is not always pretty (nor is the sight of my sweaty torso trudging along. And I need a haircut too.) In my last several workouts, I have been trying to change my stride. Shorten it up. Land more under my body, and less reaching for it out front. I have noticed several things. First, I have to turn my feet over faster. More steps. Second, I run more straight up and down and less forward lean. Third, it is harder on my feet. I don't know if that is better or worse -- I just feel the pounding more in my feet rather than in my quads and glutes, aka, butt. That maybe because my feet have been getting a free ride at the expense of hips and glutes, but I do feel it. Oh, and as I get tired, I lapse back into longer strides.
Will any of this really change the way I run? I am not sure. I do not seem to tire as quickly, but I have no real data to support that. And I seem to be running slower, at least at first.
Does anyone have a clues or cues that they look for in avoiding overstriding? I have mainly been going by how hard I land on my feet. I sort of feel like I am starting to pull my landing leg back to land flat on my foot. I imagine the forward sweep of my leg as if it turned on a wheel or as if my knee rotates 360 degrees and my legs spun like hands on a clock. Myfeet now land now at about 6 o'clock rather than 4 or 5 o'clock. It feels different, almost like I am hopping, or running with bent knees and not stretching out.
If any anyone has similar experiences or images or thoughts, I'd love to hear them so I can watch for them.