How An Average Runner Qualified for the Boston Marathon Part 2: Changing My Foot Strike

As promised in last week’s post, I want to share the four major changes I made to my training that allowed me to take over 30 minutes off my marathon time and catch that unicorn — the BQ. It’s my hope that one of these can help you catch your BQ dream or just improve your running. Let’s go!

So here’s change no. 1: I went from being a heel striker to a midfoot/toe striker.

After the Mountains2Beach Marathon (fka the Ojai Marathon) in May 2012, I went to get my running gait analyzed. The consultant said it was pretty good except for one thing — I should move to a midfoot strike.

So I tried. For the next five years I would off-on try. But I couldn’t last long. Turns out you need really strong legs (esp. calves) to get up on those footpads, and since I was a run-run-run and I’ll get to strength training if I can runner, I never got my legs strong enough to do it. I would try for half a mile and give up because my calves would be burning, and eventually I resigned myself to just being a heel striker.

The in 2015 I ran the Mountains2Beach Marathon, and our pacer also mentioned my foot strike. She told me that I ran too heavy, and if I didn’t switch my foot strike I would hurt myself. And then after the Ventura Marathon in October of that year, I did. Post-Ventura Marathon, I had a new injury, my piriformis, and one of the treatments for that is – you guessed it – changing to a midfoot/forefoot strike.


Coincidentally (not), shortly after the Ventura Marathon, I would start with Trainer, who focused on prehab and strength training, and within weeks — WEEKS — he had me up on my midfoot. Not only has it made me a healthier runner, it made me a faster runner. So if you’ve found yourself stuck in your times, or chronically injured, you might want to look into switching to a midfoot strike. Or at least maybe get your stride analyzed. I could not even imagine running on my heels again — it just sounds painful.

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