From heel striking to mid-foot landing

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    Marius T

    Hi all,

    Need advice from your experience, please

    I’m mid 40s and I’m running for almost 10 years. I’ve always been a heel striker.

    In the last month, I started to run with minimal shoes ( 0 drop, minimal cushioning), to promote mid-foot landing.

    I didn’t do anything crazy (only 10-15 min runs) but this resulted in sore foots and calves and occasionally some knee niggles.

    I realized that will take time to change to a mid-foot landing and to return to previous run volume.

    So I’m confused about how proceed:
    – to insist with the new pattern and supplement with elliptical work, rising gradually the time run with mid foot landing
    – to return to my heel strike pattern and concentrate to rise fitness with this “not ideal” running form

    Any thoughts or input, please?

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Why did you switch to the zero-drop shoes? Heel striking is not an inherent problem. Getting injured is. If you weren’t suffering recurrent injuries in your previous footwear, go back to it.

    Marius T

    Thank you, Matt. I switched to it in search of efficiency, reading that mid-foot landing conduct to a more efficient run.

    But you are right, beeing injured is not efficient 🙈


    I’m kind of cynical about shoe drop. I have shoes ranging from 8mm to Zero Racing Flats. Weight makes a difference, but otherwise none have contributed to improvement or injury. I like flats for racing, 6mm for my long runs, and 4mm for my daily faster runs; but that is just me. I don’t think it makes a lot of difference, but alternating shoes moves the stress around and avoids some of the over-use syndrome in my experience.

    There is a better approach to chasing the perfect shoe however. I am highly pleased with the 80/20 Stride Academy Plan. I have observed my running dynamics improve from orange to green and better across the board on Garmin Connect.

    I am currently in the middle of my third try at the Stride Academy. It’s not an easy program to get through. My first attempts were not that great, I think because my fitness wasn’t up to the task. This current iteration is a breakthrough for me. Cadence has jumped, ground contact balance (always a problem for me) and ground contact time have dramatically improved. In addition, my Functional Threshold Pace has jumped due to the improvement in running efficiency.

    Stride Academy will encourage a mid-foot plant. Both the shoe cue and cadence workouts will require a fast turnover and shorter stride that will minimize heel strike. You can approach it as an experiment to see if it makes a positive difference for you.

    In terms of executing the Stride Academy, this time I have made a couple of adjustments. I am using the heart rate plan and using my heart rate to “throttle” effort for shoe cue and cadence runs, but, I have converted the hill runs to pace. I monitor workout performance real-time with a custom data screen that shows power/heart rate/pace/cadence. The only other adjustment I have made is to supplement the plan with time on a spin bike, this to build fitness (CTL) as I prepare to enter a 1/2 Marathon build in a couple of weeks.

    If you do decide to try the Stride Academy you will feel some impact to your muscles as you modify your running form. For me it has been in the “right” places (the butt and calves), but it will disappear after a week or so. And, forget about age, it is not a controlled variable, everything else is.

    Marius T

    Thank you, Charles for sharing your experience.
    Stride Academy is a very good ideea !
    Do you also use the Shoe Cue insole ?


    I do.


    That might have been too much change all at once. You’re removing two things (elevated heel and cushion) that your body has been used to. I think this is something that can be done successfully, but it takes time.

    If that’s a transition you really want to make, I might suggest first moving to a non-minimalist zero drop, such as Altra. This alone will take some time to adjust, so I would introduce them gradually. Your calves will be really sore, so don’t rush it. You’ll also find that you’re having to alter your running form in a way that feels unnatural. Once you adjust, it should feel a lot better. But I think this would better prepare your feet and help you adjust your running form so that you’ll be lighter on your feet and transitioning to full on minimalist won’t be such a shock. Even still, I would really ease into minimalist running. Drop your running volume by 20 percent and start with 5% of each run in your minimalist shoes. Increase in increments of 5%, but make sure that your feet are feeling good before you do this.

    There’s not much consensus on whether you should or shouldn’t make the switch. It’s a hotly debated topic. And I’m not saying do it or don’t do it. Just advising a gradual and cautious approach if you do.


    I do as much as I can to not get injured whilst running (I’m 48). Consequently I use stability running shoes (ASICS). I’m not sure that fiddling with foot strike / running technique is going to derive much benefit for you. The more you run the more efficient you become (and fitter) – irrespective of your style.

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Marius T

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