Kenenisa Bekele Technique for Running

Kenenisa Bekele, an Ethiopian long-distance runner, holds the world record and Olympic record in both the 5000 m and 10,000 m events, and his technique for running is impressive and super efficient.

Kenenisa Bekele Technique for Running

He is best known for his quick turn-over and his smooth, efficient running style. He, like most Ethiopian athletic super-stars, ran barefoot  in his earlier years.

Running barefoot for many years is an advantage for Bekele as he lands properly on his forefoot, not on his heel like many recreational runners.  Why is learned forefoot running via barefoot conditions an advantage for Bekele?

Kenenesia Bekele Running Form

Firstly, forefoot running produces less collision forces with the ground.  And even though forefoot running does produce a ground reaction force, it eliminates the heel strike-transient.

An absent heel strike-transient at touchdown indicates less, or no braking, allowing forefoot runners, like Bekele, to glide over the ground compared to many heel strikers who appear more rigid and choppy in their stride.

Forefoot running also makes Bekele more efficient than other runners who utilize a heel strike because forefoot running involves more use of Achilles tendon which contributes to energy savings when running on the forefoot.

Running Barefoot Strengthens the Foot/Ankle Complex

Bekele ran barefootAs a by-product of running barefoot, there is high a probability that Bekele’s legs and feet are much stronger than many recreational runners who habitually wear shoes.

Strong feet are healthy feet and may be more resistant to discomfort and pain. Thus, less injuries means more time to train, longer and harder.

Of course, other factors contribute to Bekeles stellar success, such as living at high altitude, a healthy diet, and training techniques, but certainly his forefoot running style coupled with having ran barefoot for so many years prior to his elite status powers his success.

If Bekele was a heel striker, would he still be as fast?

Let’s look at Bekele’s impressive resume: he won double at the 2008 Summer Olympics; he also won the 2004 Olympic title over 10,000 m. He is the most accomplished runner in IAAF World Cross Country Championships history, with six long (12 km) course and five short (4 km) course titles.

He won the 10,000 m title at the World Championships in Athletics four times running from 2003 to 2009 (matching Haile Gebrselassie’s win streak). Bekele was unbeaten over 10,000 m from his debut in 2003 until 2011.

Bekele makes you want to reconsider heel striking doesn’t he? He sure influenced me!

More on Why You Should Consider Forefoot Running:

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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