How to Improve Your Forefoot Running Technique? Watch How the Pros Do It!

I’m surprised at how much easier learning forefoot running became after watching YouTube videos of professional distance runners who utilize a forefoot strike landing pattern. 

The forefoot runners who made the biggest impression on me, that enabled me to fundamentally understand how I should swing my legs and how I should orient my foot before my foot strikes the ground, are Galen Rupp, Craig Mottram, Edna Kiplagat, Tirunesh Dibaba and her sister Genzebe Dibaba, Haile Gebselassie, Bernard Lagat, Molly Huddle and Tiki Gelana. These runners have one thing in common: they’ve won Olympic medals, placed in the top 3 in World Championship events, or they either consistently placed in the top 3 in any road race or track meet.

How to Improve Your Forefoot Running Technique? Watch How the Pros Do It!

Therefore, when it comes to what more you can do to polish and improve your forefoot strike running mechanics, I would strongly encourage watching and carefully analyzing how these runners use their feet and legs to run appropriately. I also suggest watching them run at normal speeds (not in a slow motion) because watching how these runners run at regular speeds, enables you to get a good sense of their step frequency or step rate, which will also help furnish your forefoot running style.

Ultimately, I want to give you my point of view as to why it’s important to watch how elite runners run to help better guide you on your forefoot running journey.

How to Improve Your Forefoot Running Technique? Watch How the Pros Do It!

It turns out that repetitively watching videos of how runners run, may result in naturally mimicry, which means if you consistently watch and intensively observe the movement patterns and body posture of a runner, sooner or later, you will adopt those very similar movement patterns when you run.

For example, if you religiously watch Galen Rupp run, you will subconsciously inherit certain movement patterns that will show up when you run, and therefore, you will display very similar mechanical characteristics to that of Galen Rupp –which will probably make all your runner friends very envious! 

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the scientific pudding!

A common belief holds that a runner cannot copy another runners running style. This is a myth that may be debunked by science. Dr. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale University states that people have a natural tendency to mimic and imitate the physical behavior of others -their emotional expressions, arm and hand gestures, their body postures, etc.

  • According to Dr. Bargh, these ‘copycat’ impulses appears throughout the natural world in the fluid way that schools of fish, herds of antelope and flocks of birds coordinate group behavior so that they move almost as if they were a single organism.

Therefore, if you watch enough YouTube video’s of the forefoot running styles of Tirunesh Dibaba or Kenenisa Bekele, eventually you will develop the tendency to spontaneously mimic and imitate how these runners move when they run.

  • “Mimicking others physical attributes is known as the chameleon effect where its common for yourself to take on the posture and other physical behaviors of someone you have just conversed with. The mimicry continues until you decide to seek out a new interlocutor whose stance and gestures you then take up, like a chameleon blending in with its environment”, Bargh says.

The big bottom-line here is that if you experience difficulty with learning forefoot running, watch videos of the forefoot running technique of the elite distance runners that I listed above as this strategy may be an explicit road sign that instructs you on what to do next. Ultimately, watching videos of these runners may prompt the natural tendency towards behavioral synchrony, since the strongest form of mimicry occurs when two or more people engage in the same activity!

  • The more you watch and learn the forefoot running technique of pro runners, the longer the effect of the propensity toward imitations, and the more your forefoot running technique will resemble their forefoot running technique!

With my personal experience, the more I watched my favorite elite distance runner, Tirunesh Dibaba run in action, I became ‘primed’ to imitate her movement behaviors with respect to forefoot running and this had a positive impact on improving the quality of my forefoot running form. Try it. It really does work! And for the best effect, watch these videos before you go running.

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References:

Bargh, JA. Our Unconscious Mind. Scientific American. January 2014, pp.33.

Bretta Riches

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

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.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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