8.17.2015

Toe Runner

I’m educating myself about running.  To be faster (hopefully) but also to be injury free.  I started this exploration with Slow Jog, it's how I run;  and now I am working from the feet up.  


With that in mind let's talk about being a toe runner....


Let's start in elementary school when I had to run a mile once a year for physical fitness testing.  Anyone else have to do that?  I remember doing it in 4th and 5th grade and then every year I had to take P.E. (physical education) after that.  


1.  I HATED running that mile.
2.  I grew up in Riverside, CA during a decade filled with "Smog Alerts" and I was / am, an asthmatic. This made the once a year run even more awful.
3.  I had surgery on my feet when I was a baby (read about it HERE) and noticed I ran "funny" compared to the other kids.  It was only years later that I realized I was a toe runner....


It turns out about 20% of people who run are mid-strike or toe runners.  The other 80% are considered heel runners.  Toe runners strike with the ball of their foot as opposed to the heel of the foot when running. There are more mid-strike runners than toe runners so I am in a special group!  The group who looks funny running and who had every PE coach trying to train them to run differently before the "Barefoot" running explosion.  


After reading "Born to Run" I realized I was a toe runner and I jumped on the "Barefoot" running wagon and purchased a pair of vibrams to run in.


Just to recap in case you didn't read my first post about running, I have bad feet. Had surgery on them, wore special shoes for a big part of my childhood.  I went into the Barefoot Running thing with caution.  I did some research.  Eventually purchased a pair of trail running vibrams and followed the directions for how to start working up to running in those "shoes".  Once I made it, I loved them! The Middle Sister (my running buddy) called them "my socks" and I would wear them about ten months out of the year.  I felt the little muscles in my feet getting stronger and they emphasized the toe running for sure.


Then, about a year and a half ago I got Plantar Fasciitis doing some "extreme gardening" and I couldn't run for six months. My track coach friends told me I needed to start wearing really supportive shoes and should lay off the Barefoot Running for awhile to make sure everything was healed.  So I'm back to running shoes and still a toe runner.


Doing some research on toe running came up with some good articles (Google “Toe Running”) and I was interested to see the potential injuries that come with each type of running as well as exercises to prevent injury.  


The article, “Pounding Pavement by Heel or Toe” in the New York Times followed a study about running form that found each style of running has advantages and drawbacks.  “Heels or Toes: what’s the best way to run”, from Dr. Mitchell highlights some running form differences and comes to the same conclusion as the New York Times.  Both articles are brief if you are interested.


I have been doing some biking and yoga as cross training with my running and found two articles from Active.com I thought I might try when I need a little more stretching.




Through all my research the bottom line was to run the way that feels good to you.  To honor your body and prevent injury.  And as I train for another half marathon, that seems like good advice to me.


-elizabeth

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