Running Motion for a Midfoot Strike
In ChiRunning, the approach is to land midfoot (full-foot) under your column and create a wheel slightly behind your column with your heels/feet. Visually, this running motion is similar to the Road Runner cartoon.
To create this wheel, the focus is to allow the knee to bend and to not consciously lift the knee. Lifting the knee can bring the leg forward; and allow the foot to move horizontally and land in front of the body. Bending the knee creates an arc with the heel and keeps the heel/foot moving vertically. See the diagram below showing this orange arc.
When practicing our running form we usually maintain focus directly on an adjustment. In this case a good exercise to consider is the Knee Bending Exercise. But there are also many ways to focus indirectly. Here is an example of an indirect focus. Recently I was out running in a park and I came to a meadow. The grass was very wet. I don’t mind getting my shoes wet but I decided to use the wet grass as a test of my running technique. I decided to see if I could run across the meadow without getting my shoes wet. This required me to not only be light on my feet but to also create this vertical arc motion with my feet while landing midfoot, peeling my heel/foot off the ground and allowing the knee to bend. This vertical arc motion of my heel combined with the horizontal forward motion of my body creates the wheel. This ‘land, peel and lift’ focus kept my feet/legs from shuffling horizontally – and my feet from landing in front of me. This also kept my feet dry (OK, ‘dry-er’) as I minimized the horizontal contact with the wet grass.
At the same time I considered making as little noise against the wet blades of grass as possible. Even though the grass was relatively high, about 5-6″, my feet stayed relatively dry. I was running with someone (a non-ChiRunner) and the noise, splashing and then resulting sloshing/squeaking/etc from very wet feet was evident. This all due to horizontal motion of the feet – and therefore lots of horizontal contact with wet grass.
So the next time you come to grass (wet or dry), try running across it without making horizontal contact with the blades of grass. Land vertically on the midfoot, peel the foot and lift the heel vertically. Then, imagine running across ‘wet grass’ no matter what surface you are on.
Please share your thoughts and any questions in a comment below.
ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Certified Instructor