Daily Coaching Tip: Toe Up, Toe Off

How the foot interacts with the ground while running is a topic of many running conversations.  In a lot of cases, ground mechanics get so much attention that people spend most of their time focused on making their foot land in a particular way.  In reality, good foot action is less about footfall and more about energy transfer.

First, stop trying to force a particular footstrike.  Some people land on their heel, some people land on their midfoot, and some people land on their forefoot.  This matters little.  Good form comes from the head down, not the ground up.

Second, learn to dorsiflex your ankle and foot.  This simply means that when your feet are in the air, they should become flexed up toward the sky from the ankle.  This is like pulling on a rubber band, or a spring.  It sets you up for an elastic rebound of the foot muscles after the foot hits the ground.

Last, push off through your toe.  This leads to a complete transfer of energy from the body to the ground, which results in propulsion.  If you lift your foot prior to a full toe-off, that's less energy that goes towards forward motion.

The mental cue is Toe Up, Toe Off.  Do that, and the rest of your ground mechanics will take care of themselves.