Bare Foot Running On A Treadmill

Are you a heel striker or toe striker?

I don’t consider myself to be a runner but I do use our showroom gym at least three times a week and one of my favourite pieces of equipment is the treadmill where I am happy to do at least half an hour either running or power walking usually with the iPad in front of me catching up on some tv I’ve missed or watching a concert. I’ve recently tried bare foot running on a treadmill and would like to report my findings.

As my fitness has improved I’ve been trying to run faster and for longer but at 59 I am aware that my running style is not good, so I’ve recently been doing some research into improving my technique.

Bare foot running on a treadmill

Being the age I am, I am old enough to remember the Olympic runner Zola Budd who was well known amongst other things as being a bare foot runner, breaking the women’s 5000 meter record in 1985 with a time of 14:48.07 running barefoot. I was surprised to find how much information there is available on the subject and after watching a number of training videos on You Tube I thought I would give it a try.

Off came the trainers and the socks and I stepped onto the treadmill. Using the information gained from watching the training video. I’m told bare foot running on a treadmill is all about posture and landing on the toes not the heal being a toe striker not a heel striker.

I soon got into a rhythm and I have to say it did feel more natural, I was running faster and my strides were longer, running barefoot you almost naturally fall into the new style as it tends to hurt a little landing on the heel where landing on the ball of the foot has more spring. However the texture of the running belt was giving me the world’s worst pedicure so I decided to see if I could do it with the socks and trainers back on. I had to make a conscious effort to run using what I had learnt and to keep the posture correct but it worked.

I had been warned that the style requires that you use different muscles and barefoot running on a treadmill could cause some discomfort until you get used to it. In fact one video I watched suggest training these muscles for a period of 4 to 6 weeks before attempting this running style. The backs of my calf’s started to ache so I stopped the exercise. Thank goodness I did the following day and for two days after that I could still feel the burn in the back of my calf’s so much so that I had to give the treadmill a miss for a day or two. I now run using the technique for short periods, increasing the time each time I use the treadmill and I am happy to report that the pain is no longer as bad as it was!

Overall I do believe that once these muscles are used to being used I will see some improvement in both my speed and endurance, so for me I’m going to persevere over the winter on the treadmill with the training and see what happens. You never know by the spring I may be investing in a pair of bare foot running shoes and joining Luke our franchisee from theBirminghamarea in his first half marathon.

Incidentally Zola Budd at the age of 47 was recently invited to run in a 5k college race with 106 athletes half her age and won the race in a time of in 17 minutes and 47 seconds, a massive 50 seconds ahead of the next runner. If it hasn’t been done already her life story would make a great film.