So I’m trying something new today, an open thread with a question/topic to which you can reply. One of the biggest questions I have is, I’ve been to many different panels and demonstrations of different ways to change running form. But I’m wondering, have any of you ever tried it, and has making those changes delivered long-lasting results for you? Sincerely interested to hear your thoughts. — Terrell
I’m getting promoted to the 70+ age group next month and run at least 6 half marathons a year in addition to a bunch of shorter runs in the gaps between the halfs. The most important thing I have learned in 35+ years of this is that you need to practice more than just one form because it’s different going up, down, or level, and pace dependent based on run distance, weather changes, surface types and the type of shoe you have pulled out for a specific run. You will most likely encounter some or all of these in a long run, so you need to be prepared to shift gears as you go. I recommend developing and practicing a variety of forms, log the outcomes as you try them, select those styles that are the best fit for you in different situations, and then commit them to muscle and mental memory so you are ready as conditions change.
10 years ago I went from heel striking to mid-foot. It took a few months of practice for it to become natural. As a result, my injuries decreased and speed increased. 6 years ago I changed my arm movement to more of a "pulling a rope by my hips" action. I found I expended less energy and again got faster. 5 years ago I ran through my 1st pregnancy (which changes your form whether you want to or not) so I slightly shortened my stride and increased cadence. I found I expended much less energy and surprisingly dramatically increased my speed. Now I'm post-baby #2 and trying to figure out what's next. I found slowly changing my form over the years helped me mentally and physically handle the change and I certain I'm a better runner due to it!
Yes I have. I was experiencing tremendous pain in what I thought was my pelvic floor. An MRI revealed that I had a tear in my right hip tendon. It’s been 5 years and has never gotten completely better, it is a sore spot and flares up at times. At the time I was running more on my heels, sort of sitting back. Because I was not ready to give up running altogether I RELUCTANTLY changed my running form. At first I started by strengthening all areas of my body including my core, my back and my quads since I was beginning to run on my forefoot instead I figured I was going to need to strengthen those up. I ran the Boston Marathon in April 2015 after being told by my orthopedic physician that I was not going to run anymore after having torn a tendon. Truth I didn’t run a PR, but I’m still running like I assume everyone else even a non-injured runner I have good runs and not so good ones. I hope this helps someone else.
I am weary of 'form changes', unless one is experiencing pain and/or injuries, especially recurring ones. Balance, breathing, gait, and posture, with comfortable and aligned arm swing should be 'standard' IMO. Breathing is huge, so many have good 'form', but fail to breathe well. If a runner is running comfortably, without pain or injury, then the adjustments become tweaks - shoes, inserts, compression gear... My point is each of have our own unique physique, and "good form" is subjective in that regard.
Absolutely! At about 35 I was still running heel toe in traditional shoes. I had lots of knee issues. I tried minimalist shoes with midfoot striking and I ended up with some new injuries lol. I stayed with midfoot striking, but now use zero drop shoes with more padding. I'm 53 now and have not had any injuries in quite some time. I added resistance training and dropped my running volume considerably and actually run better because of it. I figured out I didnt need to run every day to become a better runner.
I am 60 this year, and my form makes a HUGE difference! I made a big improvement about three years ago when I began carefully focusing on the following areas: (1) upright posture - stop leaning forward, (2) land with my feet directly below me and push forward instead of up/down, (3) slightly smaller, quicker steps. I immediately noticed that in long races (10M & 13.1), whenever I turned my mind to focus on these elements I moved ahead of those running beside me, and it seemed effortless. I also notice, after three years of this, that as long as my form remains as described above, I keep my ankle, toe & hip discomfort to a minimum. When I lose my form, I get more joint pain (especially toe and ankle) and feel more weary, and this in turn causes more problems with maintaining my form (a vicious spiral). Just those 3 things, and I feel I can run further & faster with less energy expenditure & less discomfort! I recommend concentrating on these 3 things to EVERYONE!!
When I first started running I had terrible form I just did it so I could look like a runner. We had a triathlon athlete come to our CrossFit gym and teach a class on running and showed different technique and helped me completely adjust how I moved. Once I made those adjustments running wasn’t a struggle anymore and I’ve grown to love it as opposed to just doing it!
I’ve only been running close to 2 years but found running 4 days a week works great- 6 mi tues, 5-6 thurs, 4 on one weekend day and 13 on the other weekend day - I switch them around according to weather and weekend plans but try to do the long on Saturday so the 4 becomes an easy slow recovery run
Until April 1997 I was trained every day, 7 days a week, running around 100 miles per week, including the easy running and speed work example 25 × 200m, 14 × 400m etc. my results improved somewhat, but I felt tired every day in the front muscles of the thigh, and also when I ran into a running race I felt muscle tired by training every day without resting my body from training, since April 1997 I stopped my training because of unemployment and from then 21 years 8 months to November 2018 I could not do the training, since November 2018 I started my training again and looking through internet any training program plan I came across some types of pragrams and I realized that several times a week you should rest your body to improve your result, through some articles writing if you do exercise every day without resting your body you can not improve your results, I started doing training by the end of April 2019 through a plan program from the internet for the next 6 weeks where I started to train for 5k on the road on June 9, 2019 and I was started to act as it showed through the plan 4 times a week training and 3 days off as Monday, Wednesday and Friday to rest, after 3 weeks of training I started to get better in shape every week, but unlucky before 10 days on Sunday I started running 40 minutes of easy running and somewhere after 25 minutes I started to feel the pain in my upper back thigh muscles, I stopped my training and I was started walking to back home and after that day I'm having a break at home, after a each day I do not have a lot of pain in the muscle but still feeling a little bit the pain in the upper back thigh muscles, I was 3 days ago in the Tea Organic store to buy a Zen gel:
to recover my muscles faster and to get back to training, the gel helps me I'm putting the gel in my upper back thigh muscle up to 4 time a day, I feel better, but still I have to take a break until I do not feel the pain, maybe for the upcoming run of the 5k race on June 9, it will be too late to run for me, but if he can to recover my muscle pain it remains for me to train for another race in July or August 2019, where after the beginning of August I think I will prepare for half marathon 21.1k which race will be on 20 October 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand.
I read an article on how science helped this novice runner to finish her first marathon 20 minutes faster than her forecasted time and even qualify for the Boston. Among the things she praised about I tried adding recovery runs per week, avoid crossing arms and heel landing. The challenge of going slower not only strategize mental training but added to slight changes of form pushed my body to demand and ease muscle recycle. I was crushed the next two days. But the third my energy peaked and the pain disappeared almost entirely. Amazing!
Sure! I tend to lean back and open me rib cage at the end of a long race. I started to lean slightly forward and knit my rib cage shut. I also learned to push off from the balls of my feet.
I went from a 2:00 1/2 marathon to a 1:50
Yes, I have tried some of the recommendations on form changes yet did not notice any drastic changes or long lasting results. I’ve had people come up to me during races and tell me I have good form so I am sticking with what I have for now. Works for me!
I started running in 2008, and after suffering injuries due to over pronation, needed a stiff shoe. That caused me in time to feel comfortable running on my heals which in turn led to planter fasciitis in both feet in 2011. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in incredible pain but finished. I did not get back into the swing of things for 3-4 months and in order to resume running, had to learn to properly land more on the ball of my foot/front portion of my foot. It took time and a conscientious effort but it was doable. Even though its been years, I have to check myself from time to time to see that my foot is hitting the pavement properly.
When I first took up running about 5 years ago, I was recovering from a skiing injury (torn ACL) and struggled with wicked shin splints. I found that changing my stride and foot strike to land on the balls of my feet and gently roll into the heel on flat and uphill parts really helped. I've been pain free for a couple of years now, whereas, before I had discovered this little trick, I was icing my shins and taking Advil after every run (even 1-milers). I still strike on my heels when I am going downhill but that hasn't led to any injuries.
I started running 35 years ago and read a lot on the subject. I made changes at that time but have stuck to my form ever since.
Hi Terrell & Running friends! I started running in my 30's after years of "20 yr old eating, drinking & smoking!" Oh-my... hate even typing that. I completed a full marathon 5 months after my start of running (TY - Team In Training). I was slow but amazed I was RUNNING. Then I meant my now husband and he got me into weight lifting... my min/mile went from 12:00/min mile to a 10/min mile pretty quickly. Over the years, through 2 babies and 4 moves across the country I've gotten as fast as 9:15/min and as slow as 10:30/min. Now in my 50's I'm maintaining 9:50/10:00 per mile when I stick to speed work on tread mill (sprints with normal running speed recovery) and weight lifting regularly. Completely changing my stride has never worked for me. I do change my stride throughout a marathon to save energy such as quick baby steps up hills and open up stride on down hills sometimes with a zig zag if I have knee pain. As a Physical Therapist Assistant I also know that we all have a natural pronation or supination and if you try to change it it can result in injury. I also learned early in PTA school that a short quick stride should be mastered (minimum 180 steps per minute) first before trying to lengthen your stride. I'm amazed at marathons to see all the different gaits and body postures and how some people maintain 26.2 and do it well. Just so people don't get frustrated sometimes the body says, "this odd or slower way is MY best way!" : ) I'll never beat my 7:30/min mile husband but I love my running friends mid and back of pack at races! Just keep running friends!!
I have never tried to change my form, but I would like to do so now. I think I am stuck in a long-distance rut. I have become accustomed to focusing on distance but not speed. Any suggestions would be welcome!
I've only done it when recovering from injury. I'm more mid-foot but I've had to adjust at times because of Achilles issues. My focus has always been on distance and not speed, I've never been interested in being the fastest-just finishing, which I always seem to do! :)
Yes, I notice when I try to keep my arms lower as I run rather than waist high I do seem to breathe better, it doesn’t really come naturally but I am remembering this more often now and it is helping.
Yes I tried a new form and have kept with it. For me it has slowly but surely increased my pace to a faster one. I met a lady that runs her marathons sub 245 (usually closer to the 230 mark). I asked her for tips on increasing my speed because I was stuck at 11/1130 pace. On a good day I could break10:30....but not much faster than that. Her advice was pretty much....fix my form....small steps, listen to songs with a 180 bpm, shoulders back and from time to time exaggerate on raising my knees with every small step. I immediately started implementing everything she said......I just pr's on my own 5k at 23 minutes. I can't believe that yet. Most days are not that fast, but now my norm pace is anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30 for a semi relaxed run. The smaller steps definitely worked for me and when I want to kick it up a notch I definitely engage my hamstrings and glutes a bit more and the speed is incredible. Good luck to you and whatever it is you are looking for in your runs. :)
Hi. When the idea of not heel-striking so much and more natural running shoes came around, I jumped on board. I bought my first pair of Newtons around 7 years ago and tried to strike closer to the ball of my foot. The lugs on their shoes really helped. I'm still a heel-striker, but less so. I've worn Newtons ever since and my plantar fasciitis went away completely.
Three years ago I was having some trouble with my left knee.
I tried experimenting with changing my running form, trying more of a heel strike, more front-of-the-foot running. I tried shortening and lengthening my stride, and changing my cadence. None of that seemed to impact the pain I was feeling, which was intermittent.
What fixed it was (1) different shoes, and (2) having another rest day per week (a total of two). Haven't had any knee trouble since then.
I've studied and changed my running form multiple times across five decades of running. In recent years all my training focuses on strenghth and running form that leads to speed and consequently comfort and efficiency on long runs and in long races. And yes, now, I continue to win age group awards by simply getting into that trained-for running groove and just roll along the roads and trails.
Yes!!! Holy Cow, Yes!!! I saw a link on YouTube that analyzed the running form of Moses Mosop and instantly decided that I needed to apply this to my running. It is worth noting that I am a 57 year old female runner who is NOT a size 2 and I made the change 2 years ago because of lower back pain. I'm happy to report that my pain is gone and my running is ENJOYABLE again. I recommend this to ALL of my patients who are runners (I'm a chiro) and it has helped many. This is the tip of the iceberg, you can find forward running form videos and articles in abundance...I am a visual learner and so many of my patients are too, so this one speaks to us. Here is the link, once again, Terrell, thoughtful questions, articles and comments! https://youtu.be/mTMgIViinuQ
Although a runner since high school, when I turned 53 in 2010 I was hurt again. After two years of on-again/off-again running due to recurring injuries I knew I needed something new. My PT recommended specific strength training, and I also lost 15 lbs . The biggest change though was reading “Born to Run” and switching my stride from heel-strike to mid-foot. It took about six months and I did most of the change on treadmill using a 2% incline. When I was able to run with a mid-foot strike for a mile, I bought some lower profile shoes (old ones had a 12 mm drop) and took it to the road. Through a combination of form change, strength training, and weight loss I dramatically reduced my injuries and slashed my times. Since I had done the weight loss and strength training before, I think the form change was the missing piece to the puzzle for me. I don’t think this is for everyone, but it continues to work.
Was developing knee pain just below the kneecap, on longer runs (ok, I'm 57, triathlete, and have been running for 30 years, so not all that surprising that the knees are complaining). Shortened up my stride just a little and it helped in a major way. Compensated by picking up the rpms just a bit. Generally a heel striker, so the strike moved slightly forward in the process. The other change was to work on strengthening hips more, thru various exercises (side leg lifts while balancing on the other foot, in particular), which hugely benefits your knees.
I am loving this thread....I run barefoot (~14 years now)...sometimestotally barefoot, however part-time in Luna ‘sandals’ https://lunasandals.com and this ‘fixed’ some hip issues I was having long ago. Still have some ACL issues in one knee that speaks to me from time to time, but it seems walking related more than running. I wear Luna’s for daily wear as well as training.
Also agree with the metronome and increasing foot speed turnover. One of my runs is done with them.
Yes! My college coach showed me what small changes I could make with arm swing and getting my knees up/driving with the hips, and once I bought into what she was saying, I ended up shaving over 2 and a half minutes off over the 4 years of my XC season. I still go back to what she told me when I’m feeling down or off in my running.
Nathan you're a killer! THANK YOU. I am 35 and I've been running for 7 years. My knees are my hugest pain and I noticed shorter faster steps go a long way and wear me less. I will focus on your 3 step form starting immediately.
Great topic! After 40 yrs of being a heel striker I decided to overhaul my running form about 6-7 months ago. Previously I’d been having hip/butt/hamstring issues on my left leg for about 3 years. Nothing helped. I also lost about 15lbs and started doing more strength training (TRX). I decided to work on changing 1 thing at a time. Just recently I pulled my calf muscle during a run, that’s been the only issue so far but I’ve read that that is common when changing your form. I have a race (Oly Tri) on Sunday so hopefully it holds up.
Yes, recommend Danny Dreyer ChiRunning. See link. https://www.chirunning.com/
Love this thread! I thought I should try to change from a heel striker to mid foot, but couldn't see to master it. Went with a Dr.s suggestion of switching to Hoka One Ones. This made all the difference in the world. I have to agree with others that unless you are having injuries or pain, don't make big changes. I do small things that make a big difference: stretching tall, increase arm swing by pulling elbows back more, and doing speed work. P.S. I'm 63 and do 1/2 marathons.
Yes and yes. I changed from heel-striking to mid-foot strike by using the "gradual progress" idea from ChiRunning to increase my cadence. I bought a clip-on metronome (this was before the ones now in most Garmin watches) and used it to find my current cadence. It was about 150. I set the metronome one beat per minute higher. I ran at that cadence until it became comfortable then set the metronome one beat higher. Over several months, I increased my cadence from 150 to 180 and, as a result, went from heel-striking to midfoot strike. That was five years ago. The change stuck and now my cadence is always in the mid to high 170s naturally. For me, it has resulted in a much more efficient stride and less injury. My shin splints and some recurring hip pain both disappeared.
I’ve been wondering about this. Is there ever a situation where you shouldn’t run tall?
I definitely need help with my form, so I'll be interested to hear what others have to say!
I did this past year. I was looking to get faster. I've been stuck around an 8:30 pace. I know I'm a heel striker. I found runsmart.com and it sounded great. So I tried his methods for switching from a heel striker to midfoot running. This Physical therapist claims that it will also help prevent injuries....which I have never experienced as a runner thankfully. HOWEVER, once getting into this program, I started experiencing severe hip pain after every run whether it was 4 miles or 16 miles. I had knee pain almost immediately after my runs were over. It was also hard to undo what I had changed. I think I have finally undone the wrong and can run pain free once again.