Click here for the latest on RunEatGossip »

Monday, August 11, 2008

To heel or not to heel

My lower calves are aching like hell. Probably due to delay onset as I have been trying to switch from heel strike to forefoot strike for the past week since attending a talk.

All along, most of us old fogey runs using heel strike and never knew it was wrong until some bright young guru decided that heel strike was passé and forefoot was in. Just like stretching before exercises but’s that another story.

Anyway, since reading Chi Running, have been trying to figure out how to do it properly but couldn’t grasp the logic and correct movement until Eugene (yes bright young guru) showed the way at a run clinic I attended a week ago. There was a short run after that and the first thing I noticed after the 12 mins run was the calves aches. Eugene said that was normal for those switching over and will soon get used to it.

The next run was on Tuesday when I goondu goondu followed a pack of Crazy Berserk Deranged Runners up Mt Faber. Thank goodness I was more sane and did 2 loops instead of 3. Real crazy people - some even went 4 loops.– who in the world run circle around Mt Faber in the middle of the night disturbing the lovebirds? Ha ha ha… don’t throw rock at me the next time I turn up okay? Anyway, for that run, ended up with 1 big blister on the ball of the feet (again something new) caused by the braking action as I went downhill and the ultra thin Nike socks that I worn that night. Interestingly, I could not run uphill on forefoot and had to switch to heel strike. Why?

Following that, on Friday evening did a slow 14km run at East Coast Park. This time on flat ground managed to do the entire distance using forefoot. M was able to observe whether I was doing it correctly. So far so good!

On Sunday, did the PI Pure Run series. Started off with forefoot. Went without problem until midway when the calves started screaming so no choice changed back to heel strike for the rest of the run. So look like I still have some time to go to brush up on forefoot strike.

Some interesting observation from my experiment.

1. I felt that I ran more easily when using forefoot. Maybe because using forefoot caused me to automatically lean forward a bit thus resulting in more revolution? Is that the right word?
2. Some how couldn’t quite made it uphill using forefoot. Why?
3. There is a lot more emphasis on the calves which is contrary to what I read in Chi Running where the running should be from the upper limbs and not the lower limbs.

Anyway, as in everything, there are always 2 schools of thoughts although the general trend seems to be for forefoot or some call it mid foot strike. There are detractors though – and one interesting view as espounded on this blog by 2 sport scientist.

So reading from this, there is a risk of getting Achilles tendon injuries in another week time if I continue with my forefoot running. But than again, reading the proponent for forefoot, I will not get plantar fasciitis, knee injuries, etc so the trade off might be worth it. Or is it?


  1. haha tekko this is a good one crazy berserk deranged now i know :P

  2. Maybe the solution to knee problems is to take part in wheelchair events?

  3. if u want to run with shoes that does not have high heel cushioning...thick heel cushioning will make ur calves worst...and also...when u land, have your heels as close to the ground as possible, this will reduce the loading on the heels and archilles tendon...calves supposed to be stabilizing muscles and not for you to push forward which is the usual thoughts

  4. Hi Wei Sian,
    Wheel chair got no adrenaline rush. Better to do an Oscar Pistorius!

    Thanks Taz,
    Lidat means must go buy new shoes? All my shoes are stability shoes:(

  5. er......up to u lor....u can donate ur shoes to adidas or RL to buy new shoes....hahaaa