Forefoot running

by Magnus Midtgård
(Bergen, Norway)

Forefoot running and the 100 day plan :

"Hi Marius!

Just back home from completing my first ever marathon Berlin. The time was 3.57.07. I am very happy just with completing, and it was a fantastic experience running such an amazing marathon as Berlin is. And considering that I have had some muscle problems in my left foot which caused me to stop running for two weeks (weeks 11-12 in the 3:30 plan), I am very satisfied that I was able to complete in a descent time. And strangely enough, my foot feels better now than it did the last couple of days before the marathon.

I have a question with regard to forefoot running, which I have been doing for quite a while (a used my Newton shoes, which I have seen you commenting on, on the marathon): How does forefoot running fit the running/walking sessions in your marathon plan? My thought is that a runner who lands on his/hers heels will - I reckon - use basically the same muscles when running and walking. On the opposite, a forefoot runner uses somewhat different muscles, thus making it harder to get sufficient training of the "right" muscles (especially in the calves). What are your thoughts about this? Could for example doing very easy running (f ex 7-8 min/km) as a substitute for the walking part - perhaps in the terrain instead of roads - be an alternative? (as you understand, I have already started planning for my next marathon!)

Best wishes, Magnus"

Answer:Hi Magnus and many congrats on finishing the Berlin marathon in sub 4 hours despite the pre-race problems.

To go straight to the questions :
For the run/walks I wouldn't really consider anything such as forefoot running - in those it is just a matter of "gathering" minutes and steps, so everything else is really secondary. So keep these the way they are planned, and consider using other shoes vs. the Newtons it it feels odd in those.

As for forefoot running using different muscles, this is not really the case : you still have to use the gastrocnemius and soleus (both connected to the achilles tendon) plus the tibialis anterior/posterior as the main muscles (and a number of smaller, other muscles as well) in the lower legs.

You FEEL so, as it were using other muscles, though - because the impact on these muscles are slightly different in shoes such as Newtons, thus making these muscles sore, especially in the beginning. You also tend to get more of a stretch on the achilles and the posterior muscles, due to running more on the forefoot.

Like I've said before, I'm open to shoes such as Newtons, but it is certainly not something that you want to be a main "focus" point - but rather a fun supplement to your overall training !

I wish you all the best,

kind regards,

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