When I first started the Couch to 5K program, I had absolutely no idea how to run properly. Even though I have always dreamed of becoming a runner, and even pretended to be one several times for short periods of time, I had never acheived a comfortable running stride. Running always felt extremely difficult and I never stuck with it for this reason. Last year was different in that I felt like I was literally running for my life. I was going to lose weight and become a runner because the alternative was to coast through life in a horribly unhappy state. It was time for me to make permanent changes.
When I began the C25K program I was worried about my past failures as a runner and decided that using a formal (proven) program to get started was the first step to success. So I started the program, followed it to a T, and graduated some nine weeks later. I can still remember those first runs, when a minute felt like too long, when at the end of the 25 minute run/walk session I felt like I might faint from exhaustion. It was brutal and exhilarating. I was scared and excited. I looked forward to and dreaded each running session at the same time. It was simply awesome! And all the while I was running, I was saying to myself over and over heeltoe, heeltoe, heeltoe, and I was striking my foot in exactly that rhythm: heel then toe.
At one point I told my husband this was how I got through the running intervals and he was like, "Um, you're not supposed to land on your heel, you're supposed to land on the middle of your foot or closer to your toe." I looked at him like he was crazy. Not possible, I thought. You land like you do when you're walking only faster. So I kept going. I finished the program and I kept running. Then I started having a lot of trouble with my leg and knee, problems that were caused by wearing the wrong shoe. I read a lot about running stride and foot strike when I was reading about shoes. So often I read about the benefits of a midfoot to forefoot strike as opposed to a heel stike. Interesting, but food for though until after I get the shoe issue worked out, I thought. Luckily I finally found the right (ugly) shoes sometime in late November.
It was in the latter part of December that I finally decided to start actively trying to change my running stride. And then winter hit and it's been a long one. I've been running less and less, both indoors and out, so it has taken awhile to notice any real positive change. But I am finally noticing!! A midfoot strike feels so much better on my body! I have watched lots of running videos on YouTube and I know how I should move my body, legs, and feet. I still have to concentrate on landing with my foot more parallel to the ground, and sometimes I forget what I'm doing and revert to the heel strike, but then I start feeling more fatigued and it isn't long before I remember what I'm supposed to do. I know that if I keep practicing, I can successfully change my stride for the betterment of my running experience. It's just a matter of relearning what I thought I knew and clearly did not. Thank goodness for Google, YouTube, and running blogs!
Are you a midfoot, forefoot, or a heel striker? Have you actively worked on changing your running stride and/or foot strike? Why or why not?