In my never-ending quest to spend more money in the pursuit of running, one of the things that I've had my eyes on for some time is a gait analysis. Not the sort of thing that is done at a running store, mind you, but a real one, with videos and professionals and everything.
Luckily for me, there's a place nearby that does just this sort of thing. I had the full test done last Friday - both a lactate test and a gait analysis. The lactate test - while a great thing - involved too much poking of fingers and taking of blood for me to care to recount at this time. While all of this finger poking and blood taking was going on, the biomechanicist was taking video of me running. After a full 5 minutes of analyzing the video, this is what she had to say. Keep in mind the only thing she knew about me before hand was that I was just coming off of a calf strain.
- Her immediate first question: "You've just spent a lot of time switching from a heel strike to a midfoot strike, haven't you?" Apparently it was obvious from my stride.
- The reason why it was obvious: my foot strike has gone too far in the opposite direction. Essentially I am planting my toes first, which is putting some crazy tension on my gastrocs...which is why I had a calf strain in the first place. So big change number one is to move back towards the middle of my foot - striking with the entire foot at the same time, not just the balls of my feet.
- The news is not all bad: my strength work in my hips, my work on cadence, stride length, etc. has all paid off. There are some other flaws that were obviously but for the most part I have a mechanically efficient stride (save the issue above).
- Most interesting part of the discussion: I asked about pronation. For the first year or so after I started running, I couldn't figure out what shoes to use. Different people at different stores told me all sorts of stuff, and I've been through all sorts of shoes. She said that I do pronate just a bit, but that I have a natural bowed structure to my lower legs and if I go into stability or motion control shoes I'll have IT problems. Which is precisely what happened two years ago.
I'm working on making the slight tweaks to my form now - I've got six weeks until my next race, which doesn't give me much time.