I have been questioned about heel strike, mid-foot strike, or running on your toes. Most runners are going to have some degree of a heel strike. The lesson here is to limit the amount of heel strike through improving your stride and turn over.
To increase your pace per minute does not require you to lengthen your stride. I have been told for years to run faster lengthen your stride and reach for the ground out in front of you. This methodology lead to increased injury and more problems. To illustrate, if you take a crutch and place the bottom of it on the ground in front of you as you walk. What happens to the crutch? It is driven up into your shoulder. The same thing happens when you reach for the ground when running. Your knees and hips take the brunt of the impact creating damage over time. If you take that same crutch and you place it on the ground directly underneath you and continue moving forward you feel little impact on you shoulder and you begin to “fall” forward. This is similar to how you should be running. Your feet should hit the ground underneath the body. You should have a natural lean forward from your feet to you shoulders. Don’t bend forward at the waist.
Take a look as this photo. The photo on the left may look as though she is running much faster than the person on the right. I can tell you from experience, you can run fast and “look” like you are barely putting in any effort. That’s the photo on the right. Right photo, every time her foot strikes the ground it helps propel her forward due to her natural body lean. Left Photo, every time her foot strikes the ground it acts as a brake and knees and hips are taking a beating with every foot strike.
The idea isn’t about having the perfect running form, it about improving your form to help prevent injury. The next time before you go for a run try this running drill.
Speed Drill: This drill is to help increase your running cadence as well as placement of you foot under the body. Using a quick and very short stride, strike the ground under your body with either your forefoot or mid-foot and fold the foot down to the surface from point of contact to the heel, with the heel reclining to the ground momentarily before popping up to start a new stride. Take small steps with minimal knee lift and minimal time spent on the ground as if the surface below you is very hot. You are shooting for a cadence of 100+ during this drill.