Is there such thing as the perfect running form? According to Alberto Salazar (Al Sal) there is!
The one thing I love about Al Sal is that he is pro-forefoot running and barefoot running, meaning that he teaches his runners the proper forefoot strike running technique by using graded barefoot running training.
When I began my transition from heel strike running to forefoot running, I had doubts because I was having trouble learning forefoot running from the ground up. At the time, there was little scientific information about how to develop a safe and efficient forefoot running style, until I was fortunate enough to come across a few golden articles about how Al Sal trains his athletes to run with good forefoot running form.
One Big Mistake Alberto Salazar Made as a Runner
Al Sal crushed the marathon over and over, but his running form ended up crushing him in the end, which is the reason he had a very short running career — he retired from marathoning at age 26, solely because he ignored the science of good running biomechanics.
The key to a long healthy and successful running career is a combination of proper diet and good biomechanics, in addition to many other things of course, but good biomechanics was something Salazar largely neglected until he started training Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.
So, don’t just throw on a pair of cushioned running shoes and run. Think about how you run, and according to Salazar, you want to run with a forefoot strike similar to that of a sprinter, even if you are a marathoner.
In an interview in Track and Field News, the number one thing Salazar stressed to coaches who coach young runners was to over-emphasize the importance of good biomechanics, that is, teaching young runners to land with a forefoot strike, not a heel strike, and to instill proper forefoot running biomechanics via barefoot training to avoid the bad habits associated with running in cushioned heeled running shoes.
One of the main reasons Salazar began to care so much about running biomechanics was that he was overly impressed with Kenenisa Bekele’s forefoot running style. Salazar used Bekele’s forefoot running form as a reference point to re-engineer the running form of his runners Dathan Ritzenhein, Galep Rupp and Mo Farah –Rupp and Farah are very successful Olympians and are still strongly in-contention to win some more Olympic medals.
Another thing that runners need to realize is that the proper forefoot running form involes more than just striking the ground on your forefoot. It also involves certain leg swing mechanics, arm swing mechanics, and hip mechanics as well. In another interview, Al Sal reveals 4 forefoot running technique tips that involves making whole body mechanical adjustments that you too should be always executing!
More From Run Forefoot:
Why most of the pro-runners don’t run with a heel strike.
Why classic arm swing style doesn’t work.
Reviews and recommendations on proper footwear for forefoot running.
Best books on how to learn barefoot running.
Why less shoe is more when running on pavement.
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.