Add another credential to forefoot running’s impressive resume: running fast allows you to save more energy than running slow. So, always remember, the faster you run, the more energy you conserve when you are running with a forefoot strike vs a heel strike.
Running Fast Saves Energy When Forefoot Running
It turns out that the best way to conserve energy when forefoot running is to run faster, and avoid jogging. Running on the forefoot at speeds no less than 16 km/hr boosts elastic energy storage in the Achilles tendon (Scholz et al. 2008). The exact mechanism allowing for this is as follows:
- As running speed increases, so does ankle plantar flexion at touchdown which allows more elastic energy to be stored in the Achilles tendon.
- Running at speeds of 16 km/hr or greater decreases the moment arm of the Achilles tendon, which increases the stretching force on the Achilles at touchdown, allowing the Achilles to fill up with more elastic energy needed for better running economy (Lacour and Bourdin 2015).
The Achilles tendon moment arm has a profound influence on running economy since it was found to account for up to 80% of oxygen cost variance more than anything else (Scholz et al 2008).
No Hope with Slow Forefoot Running
Though the exact mechanisms behind poor energy conservation at slower running speeds has been unclear, slow running velocities may cause ankle plantar flexion and dorsiflexion to compete with each other, resulting in unfavorable fluctuations in the Achilles tendon moment arm.
More From Run Forefoot:
- What is the Best Long Distance Running Form?
- Good Forefoot Running Tips
- An Engineers Take on Heel Strike vs Forefoot Strike Running
- Recommended Shoes for Forefoot Running
Lancour JR and Bourdin M. Factors affecting the energy cost of level running at submaximal speed. Eur J Appl Physio, 2015;115:651-673.
Scholz MN, Bobbert MF, van Soest AJ, Clark JR, van Heerden J (2008) Running biomechanics: shorter heels, better economy. J Exp Biol 211:3266–3271.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.