Running Tracks and More on Foot Strike Patterns
The science on foot strike patterns (rearfoot vs. forefoot) continues to be inconclusive. Although much of the science has indicated that a forefoot strike patterns is the most economical and results in the most efficient biomechanics, not every study conducted arrives at these results. A new study just published looked at the economy and rate of carbohydrate oxidation during running with rearfoot and forefoot strike patterns. Interestingly, they found that the forefoot strike pattern is NOT more economical then the rearfoot strike pattern. This is one of the few studies that took natural forefoot and rearfoot strike runners and tested them while both running with their natural strike pattern as well as while running with the opposite strike pattern (i.e., rearfoot runners would run in a forefoot pattern and vice versa). Most other studies simply look at the biomechanics and economy of the runners natural strike pattern. So in this study, they found that neither strike pattern was more economical across the board - meaning that your natural strike pattern may be the most efficient for you. Or, that if you are going to work on your form and strike pattern, it may take some time for it to prove beneficial (until it becomes natural to you).
Although the science is still out on foot strike patterns and what is best for you, it does seem to indicate that a forefoot strike pattern is more efficient biomechnically and slightly more economical, but only when it has become your natural running strike pattern.
Here on island I have been working on my form a lot, as speed work forces one to focus on form. I can say that the forefoot strike pattern is not my natural pattern yet, and especially on downhills, but that it is slowly starting to feel "more natural." Only time will tell, but it is something to continue to work towards as the potential payoff can be quite dramatic in terms of overall times.
On another note, I've mapped 60 running tracks in the Boulder/Denver/Front Range area. These are all standard tracks that are excellent for speed work or track workouts. I made the map so that anyone can easily find the nearest track to their home, hotel, friends house, etc. The map is basic right now, with only the tracks mapped, but I plan on adding more information under each track as I can. If anyone wants me to add a track, or provide information about a track (i.e., surface type, open to the public, etc.) I would love the help. You can comment here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll add it then to the map, which will automatically update.
Finally, some random photos from the island...