Running slow to run faster

Practice running slowly on a treadmill to perfect your foot placement.
Almost every runner naturally reaches forward with the foot in an effort to artificially lengthen the stride, maintain balance and make some use of the unnecessarily thick slab of rubber under the heel of running shoes. Many runners understand that landing with the foot directly beneath the hip is more efficient, but still struggle to make this change.

One way to make it easier to keep footstrike in the correct location is to practice very slow running. I have many very fast athletes (sub five-minute/mile triathlon 10K males, sub six-minute females) run extremely slowly as drill work when trying to adjust footstrike placement.

Frequently I'll have the athlete run in place on a stationary treadmill for one minute and then increase the speed by one mph each minute until they reach basic endurance pace to complete the warm up. This may seem silly, but running this slowly makes the technique that will help you run faster almost automatic.

Placing the foot out in front uses momentum to carry the body up over the position of footstrike, where the athlete can extend the hip to generate propulsion. With almost no forward momentum, the foot must remain directly beneath the hips at footstrike. Be careful every time you increase speed, to generate propulsion for the speed increase in the rear quadrant, underneath and behind the hips.

Feel free to e-mail me at with a quick question.

Ken Mierke is author of The Triathlete's Guide to Run Training and developer of Evolution Running. Two of Ken's 15 clients won world championships in 2005 using these techniques. More information is available at

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