Monday, April 11, 2011

forefoot strike can be a pain in the calf but it's a knee savior

Last year I discovered that if I ran more miles with a “forefoot strike” my knees hurt less. Sounds so simple….obviously I would choose to run all the time this way, right? Wrong. I purchased Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) and ran in them about once a week when it was warm/dry outside. I tried to push myself to run forefoot style when in my regular running shoes but often lost my drive. My running times tended to slow when I ran forefoot and required more work on my part. Also it took 3 months for me to be able to run more than 3 miles without significant calf pain the next day. Once the winter came I put my VFF away and ran only in my regular sneakers and forgot my forefoot discovery.

Saturday I dusted off my VFF and went for short run (1 mile to the dog park, then walking around the farmer’s market, then 1.5 mile run back). Come Sunday my calves hurt so much I spent all day reading on the couch.

Turns out if you go 5 months without practicing the forefoot strike you are basically back to the drawing board. I need to revamp my forefoot running training even when wearing sneakers. I get so focused on trying to run 5-10 miles at a fast pace that I allow myself to forego my running technique. Since I value my knees and want to be that 80-year old runner you see in the park jogging along, April will be dedicated to forefoot running.

My husband is a true VFF/forefoot runner. He doesn’t use his sneakers at all now when running. Last year he even ran a 10 mile race in the Vibrams.

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