Meb Keflezighi’s foot strike helped him win the Boston Marathon and here’s why.
Meb became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. Meb also had his fair share of ups and downs as a professional runner, one being dropped by Nike during a time when he was experiencing potentially career-ending injuries.
With Nike, Meb was a heel striker, a running style that is almost a rarity among top elite distance runners as many of these runners are either forefoot strikers, or midfoot strikers.
At the time, Meb endured a fleet of persistent injuries which compromised his performance, hence why Nike dropped him.
But in 2011, Meb gained a new sponsorship as well as an improved style of running. Meb signed with Skechers, which has a running shoe line geared towards discouraging a heel strike running pattern and promotes a more midfoot to forefoot strike running pattern.
Since with Skechers, Meb’s heel strike is less pronounced as he strikes the ground on the mid to front part of his foot. His stride length is shorter and his step-rate is much higher which is comparable to the forefoot running style of the worlds best distance runners such as Kenenisa Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, and Tirunesh Dibaba.
Sure Meb trains exceptionally hard, but proper biomechanics is fundamental for excellent running performance. With that said, there is no question that a less pronounced heel strike may have advanced Meb’s athletic performance: he looks smoother, more efficient, and most importantly, he has encountered fewer injuries since his days with Nike.
Less injury equals more time to train harder and longer, and lets face it, heel strikers aren’t breaking world records, or winning major marathons. Congratulations Meb!
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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.
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