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There Is No Right or Wrong Way To Run For Long Distance

December 20th, 2012 · No Comments ·


Some time ago, I wrote an article on How To Run Faster and Longer with Better Form.  I talked about how you should hold your head, keep your shoulders, swing your arms, clench your fist while running.  Yesterday, I came an across an interesting write up on the similar subject.  It looks as if the champion of many marathon or long distance runners have no fixed technique in running.

Unlike swimmers, high jumpers, tennis players or gymnasts, apparently, long distance runners run with many different ways. If you have missed the recent Olympic Games, pay attention on how the long distance runners run next time.  You will probably see runners who strike on heel first or land on their midfoot and few land on their forefoot.  Some will run with their head high up, some will swing their arms in exaggerated manner while few just keep the arms at their waists.  One example will be Romanian woman long distance runner, Constantina Tomescu, who has won 2008 Olympics.  She runs with her arms wide and elbows out.


According to a profession of orthopedics and sports medicine at the University of Washington, when comes to long distance running, there is no one perfect way to run.  His research team even tided up runners’ arms behind their back, and after few runs, they found out that the results were “almost no difference”.  Source

Another research was done by University of Connecticut by video tapping about 400 half marathon runners, including elite runners.  Here are the breakdown:

  • 62 percent ran heel to toe
  • 36 percent ran on midfoot
  • 2 percent ran with forefoot

Normally, only short distance (100 meter or 200 meter) runners run with their heels because it can be very tiring for the calves.  Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners in history, run on his toes.  His heels do not touch the ground.  This style of running requires calf muscles to absorb the shock.  However, another great runner, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, who holds the world records in the 5,000 and the 10,000 (as of September 2008) runs on his midfoot.  Deena Kastor, an American long distance woman runners, who holds national records in marathon, runs heel to toe.


So, it is pretty clear each runner has his or her ways of running.  However, whichever part of the foot hits the ground first, the study found that how hard the foot hits makes the difference. Instead of slamming the foot to the ground, the foot should be controlled into the ground.  This way of graceful running is believed to conserve more energy.

Other factors such as shoes, stride length, stamina, diet, genetic gift and other factors play important roles too.  In fact, running is something very natural.  Just like walking, we all run differently too. When I run for 20 feet, I run with the fastest speed for that distance.  When I know I need to run for 8 kilometer, I will have to keep rhythm in my feet to keep me steady.  The stride length will change accordingly.  In short, there is no “wrong” way to run.  Just run naturally and swing your arms the way you want!

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Category: Other Fitness/Sports Articles

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