In follow up to the video I shared last week called Overpronation at Brighton Marathon 2017, here’s another piece of footage (no pun intended) that I took at the Brighton Marathon (April 17th 2016), this time at mile 23. As I explained in the last post, I was there to see how runners I had been helping prepare for the race were getting on with their sub4 & sub3 hour goals, and given that the sun was beating down particularly furiously that day I was keen to check they were ok.
The video below shot at mile23 depicts runners moving at the sub4hr pace (9.09 minute/mile). In examining the footage later in slow motion, I was happy to see that the majority of the runners I had caught on camera were heelstriking (landing on their heel with each step). I say happy because this is exactly what research suggests: 90% of runners in a marathon land on the heel first. Despite what you may read on websites, dvd’s and hear from some coaches, when it comes to distance running only the minority land on their midfoot, and almost none on forefoot.The Myth of Heelstriking - Slow motion video of sub4hr runner at mile 23 of Brighton Marathon. Click To Tweet
Now as with the other video showing a 3hr15 runner with classic ‘overpronation’, this footage is just a small selection of runners from the 12,000 or so who took part but it is an observation that is supported even amongst elite distance athletes running 10k+.
The photo below (courtesy of Iain Hunter) shows foot strike patterns of the fastest men & women at the USA Olympic 10k Trials. many runners are surprised to see so much variance, even between left & right feet on the same runner.
So, the take home message: maybe we shouldn’t be quite so quick to blame ‘heelstriking’ for injury or poor performance; maybe very often issues have more to do with something that’s happening further up the leg? For further consideration and a more in depth look at what we should be looking for in running form, see my article Heel Striking: Root Of All Evil?.
Have you ever been criticised for heelstriking? Did you try changing it? How did that work for you? As always, share any experiences and comments in the section below!