Running Fast Makes Everything Better

Running fast will actually be easier on your body, if you run with a forefoot strike that is. One common complaint about running is that it causes muscle soreness, especially in the knee, but if you run faster than your comfort pace, you will not only run more efficiently, you will receive less pain.

Running faster is better than running slower

Running Fast Makes Everything Better

Running Too Slow Hurts More

Many runners run slow on purpose –to avoid injury. Some researchers speculate that running at slower speeds (e.g. 10 min/mile) provides more resources for injury to develop. That is, running slow increases stride-to-stride variability, whereas running fast seems to keep biomechanical parameters more constant.

When you run too slow, your interactions with the ground become intensified because stride length is higher, cadence is lower and ankle dorsiflexion is higher which facilitates heel strike. In contrast, Daoud et al. (2012) found that well-trained cross-country runners were forefoot strikers and suffered less injuries compared to heel strike runners. Likewise, many studies indicate that the body prefers to use a forefoot strike over a heel strike at faster running speeds to impede impact, braking and abnormal knee-joint movements.

Therefore, running faster with a forefoot strike compliments the architecture of the lower leg joints, and is the biological underpinning of safe, natural running.

Running Slow is Exhausting

When you run slow, on the heels, the body works harder to fight gravitational acceleration — a greater muscular engagement during running results in a higher metabolic rate. Forefoot runners on the other hand, fall forward when they run, which nonetheless solves the problem of gravitational acceleration and with little muscular effort.

Falling forward when forefoot running elicits faster running speeds more easily. In fact, many researchers believe that the bulk of most running injuries and movement inefficiencies results from an upright body posture during running. After all, you can’t fall forward if you hold your trunk too upright. Many skilled forefoot runners tilt their trunk forward when they run, providing plenty of fuel for forward momentum.

At faster running speeds with a forefoot strike, the lower leg muscles are less active, lessening the strain on the lower leg. Less active muscles are  relaxed which boots efficiency, ensuring better running economy.

The Take Home Message

Running faster elicits favorable spatiotemporal parameters that generate less impact. The trick is though, to land on your forefoot, not your heel.

Not only will running fast push you ahead of your contemporaries, it comes with a few more gifts: you burn more calories, your sequences of fast motor actions will enhance, and it molds you into a strongly built runner.

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References:

Daoud AI, Geissler GJ, Wang F, Saretsky J, Daoud YA, Lieberman DE. Foot strike and injury rates in endurance runners: a retrospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012: 44: 1325–1334.

Kulmala JP, Avela J, Pasanen K, Parkkari J. Forefoot strikers exhibit lower running-induced knee loading than rearfoot strikers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013: 45: 2306–2313.

Mann et al. Association of previous injury and speed with running style and stride-to-stride fluctuations. Scand J Med Sports Sci, 2015.

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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