Is there one right way to run?
When the Daasanach volunteers were asked to sprint along the track at a much faster speed, however, more of them landed near their toes with each stride, a change in form that is very common during sprints, even in people who wear running shoes. But even then, 43 percent still struck with their heels.
This finding adds to a growing lack of certainty about what makes for ideal running form. The forefoot- and midfoot-striking Kalenjin were enviably fast; during the Harvard experiment, their average pace was less than 5 minutes per mile.
But their example hasn’t been shown to translate to other runners. In a 2012 study of more than 2,000 racers at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, 94 percent struck the ground with their heels, and that included many of the frontrunners.
But the most provocative and wide-ranging implication of the new Kenyan study is that we don’t know what is natural for human runners. If, said Kevin G. Hatala, a graduate student in evolutionary anthropology at George Washington University who led the new study, ancient humans “regularly ran fast for sustained periods of time,” like Kalenjin runners do today, then they were likely forefoot or midfoot strikers.
But if their hunts and other activities were conducted at a more sedate pace,
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