Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Follow-up to "Bare Your Sole? Just Shorten Your Stride."

From last week:  Runblogger posted that Amby Burfoot interviewed the author of the study about stride length:
[Q] There's a lot of advice out there for runners these days. Run barefoot. Run in minimalist shoes. Run on your forefeet. And now you're saying that running with a shorter stride achieves many of the same things. Are you prepared to say it's a better, smarter approach than the other alternatives?

[A] We had a section in our paper that made that argument. But we dropped it. Actually we had lots of other results and sections that didn't fit into this paper. We hope to publish them soon in other papers. We decided against pushing the shorter strides harder at this point because we don't have good injury results yet. We hear the stories from our Runners Clinics, and we have results coming in. But we're not quite there yet.

Do we think that a shorter stride is maybe a simpler approach than some other ways? Sure. It can reduce the forces a lot, it can change your running posture a little, it may reduce injuries. If you want to change your posture a little more, you could run in a shoe that's not as built-up at the heel as some other models. Running with a short stride could even be a good way to transition to barefoot running if that's what you want to do. It's a good first step. It will increase your cadence. It will change your landing posture. Then if you want to move on to barefoot running….
One other thought: Lieberman says the notion that barefoot runners have shorter strides is [baloney, to paraphrase]. (That thought's not published, and he would probably restate it in a formal forum... :)

I've sort of come to the conclusion that shortening up your stride is a beginner tactic, for those of us with weak feet. I think that as you get stronger, stride length should lenghthen, enabling you to go faster.

However, if you look at elite barefoot-style runners, you see that their stride length is longer, but their form stays the same; they're not really over-striding like a heel-striker, they're just spending more time in the air.

So if that's the case, then permanently shortening your stride as suggested above would permanently slow you down.

Here's Pete's take on it.