About a month ago I came across a blog post by Joe Friel called Running Faster that discussed cadence and foot contact. I've known for a long time that one of the keys to improving running efficiency is to shorten one's stride. It's something I'm constantly reminding myself to do, especially on hills. What I hadn't given much thought to, though, was how changing the way my foot strikes the ground could make a difference.
To briefly sum up what the author wrote about foot contact, he said reducing the angle that your foot comes into contact with the road can minimize total contact time. And the less time your foot spends on the ground, the faster you can become.
Now, I've seen enough pictures of me running (right) to know I'm guilty of locking my knee and, therefore, having a pronounced landing on my heel. As he points out, this is akin to slamming on the breaks.
I haven't yet heeded Joe's suggestions of stride drills or occasionally running barefoot. But I have made a conscious effort to move my center forward over my hips. This seems to produce a more bended knee and a flatter landing, and it when I do it correctly I actually feel more efficient.
The side effects of this effort have been noticeable. When I first started both of my achilles were tender. That went away after a few days, but every once in a while something else seems to crop up. Yesterday I had a problem with what I think is my peroneus brevis, but today it feels much better. Hopefully, these growing pains will subside altogether and I'll be a better runner for the change.