I’m not much of a runner. In fact, I pretty much never ran in order to, you know, run, before I went paleo. Even now, most running is play—chasing my 5 year old son, running through the woods,
rolling in mud, howling at the moon. You know, normal stuff. Sometimes I deliberately do some sprints or walk/sprint/walk/run for a couple of miles.
There’s a recent article in the New York Times on barefoot running. It’s worth a look if you are interested in the topic at all. One factoid I was very interested in was that many barefoot runners still heel-strike. That means they run as if they were still wearing heavily cushioned running shoes by slamming their heels down at the beginning of each stride. “Correct” barefoot running involves much less heel impact: landing on the balls of the feet or the mid-foot; or sometimes just a whisper touch of the heel before the front of the foot lands. That’s the basics of correct barefoot running form to my (very limited) understanding.
I don’t understand how anyone who runs barefoot or in really minimal shoes could heel-strike. Slamming your heels down without the cushion of running shoes is asking for trouble, as that’s not how your leg is designed to work. Ouch.
I always do a forefoot strike when I run. I’m not sure what my running form was before I started wearing minimalist shoes, because I paid no attention to it. For the last year or so I’ve worn almost exclusively minimalist shoes (Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves and Tough Gloves; as well as Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks). When I first started running around in the Vibrams, it seemed very natural to use “correct” barefoot form, landing on the forefoot with an erect body posture. Forefoot striking while running seems completely natural now. I would have to think hard to not do that.
In fact, we had a recent snowstorm and I had to wear some work boots for shoveling purposes. At one point I ran for a few feet and found myself trying to run on the balls of my feet. Doesn’t work well at all in boots—I almost fell over.