Magazine article Work & Family Life

Is There a Best (Fast, Efficient) Way to Run?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Is There a Best (Fast, Efficient) Way to Run?

Article excerpt

Runners everywhere would like definitive answers to two burning questions: Is there a best way to run so you go the fastest and use the least energy? Does it help to run in minimalist shoes or is it better to run barefoot?

Science writer Gina Kolata devoted a recent "Personal Best" column in The New York Times to answering these questions. To that end, she found Iain Hunter, a biomechanics researcher at Brigham Young University who also works with the USA Track and Field program.

Dr. Hunter was able to photograph elite U.S. runners during the 10,000-meter Olympic trials with a camera that records 240 images a second. So, if there's a secret to their success, he figured his camera might show it.

But the results for both male and female runners were all over the place. Some landed heel first, some midfoot, a few forefoot. Some twisted their feet inward as they hit the ground and others kept their feet straight.

"None of these things were connected with performance, nor with running economy," Dr. Hunter said.

That was good news in a way, Kolata suggests, because studies have repeatedly found that when people try to change their natural running style, they tend to use more energy to cover the same distance. …

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