Now that I have purchased the Milestone pod, how can I fix my leg swing and heel strike?
Your question has placed you in the ranks of some very dignified company, namely Ray Maker, also known as the DC Rainmaker, whose blog exhaustively tests all types of running and triathlon technology products.
Mr. Maker’s conclusion on these foot strike metrics: “There are hundreds of studies that show how efficient elite runners are compared to us ‘normals’. But what virtually every study lacks is how to get from point A to point B.”
Personally, I like to imagine that I am like that lizard that can run across the water, but my own foot-strike and impact stats suggest that I am more in the brontosaurus range. There is great debate as to which part of our foot we should land on, but the basic conclusion: heel bad. Mid-foot or toe landing: good.
I live in dread of absolutes. What might be good in theory are bound by the rules of our personal physiology. What is less debatable is this: where your foot lands in relation to your body is much more important than how it lands. The closer it can land under your body, the better. Reframing the foot strike debate: leg landing in front of body: bad. Leg landing under your hip: good.
The best way to improve this without having to think is to improve the number of steps you take in a minute—not because it will make you faster—but because it means you will reduce the amount of time spent in the mid-stance or landing phase of your foot-strike. Ed Griffin wrote an excellent blog just this week that reviews the basics of Good Form Running.
As far as the leg swing metric, I’m going to use an analogy not often attempted in running columns: figure skating. When spinning at the end of a routine, a skater will throw his or her arms wide at the start, and then to increase the spin, they shorten the lever by drawing his or her arms in closer to the body. Similarly, when running, a wider leg swing, with a leg dangling behind the body, would make it difficult to maintain a quick cadence. The result would be a harder landing in front of your body.
Aiming for 180 steps a minute will automatically shorten that lever. But our ability to consistently improve our form will be limited by how flexible and strong we are in those muscles required to practice good form. So I will defer right back to the Milestone website for another excellent, and in-depth blog on this very subject: www.milestonepod.com/jackies_journey/leg-swing-metric-series/.
One more thing that may help: In my shoe collection I always have a pair of lightweight trainers, not because they make me faster, but because I can better feel the road underneath me. I do not use them every day—only for shorter speed workouts and shorter races. When I am in a big cushioned shoe I find I tend to get lazy. I heel strike more because I rely on the cushioning. Think of it as riding in a sports car vs. a luxury sedan; more agile, less comfortable.
If you are diligent with these exercises you will see results, enjoy running more and experience fewer injuries.
- Coach Brendan