In October, I ran most of the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon next to a runner who was scuffing his feet every time they landed. Each time he did this, he was using up energy and slowing himself down. Assuming he continued to do this for 3 1/2 hours, he scuffed his feet almost 38,000 times during the marathon.
One of the most common mistakes in running is overstriding, extending your foot far out in front of your center of gravity (use your navel as a point of reference). Many people who overstride land on their heel, rather than their midfoot. Often, their feet make a slapping sound as they hit the ground. Some land on their midfoot, but scuff their feet with each stride.
Landing with your foot in front of your center of gravity results in forces that push you backward, rather than forward, using up energy and slowing you down. Ideally, you want to land on your midfoot with your foot traveling backwards just before the moment of impact. This backward motion before impact is called pawback.
Some runners try to lengthen their stride by extending their leg far in front of them. In some extreme cases, they may even straighten their leading leg. The causes a shock on landing that often results in shin splints.
Here are some tips to avoid overstriding:
- Make sure that your stride rate is approximately 180 steps per minute
- Keep your knees bent
- Don’t extend your foot in front of you
- Land on your midfoot
- Pawback with your foot just before landing
- Practice running barefoot or in minimalist shoes some of the time
I’ve embedded a video below in which barefoot running guru Lee Saxby shares some exercises to help you improve your running form.
Give these exercises a try and let me know how you do in the comments.