Dr. Mark’s brilliant Natural Running video

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is not only FAST (he won the US Air Force Marathon this year), he’s committed to understanding the facts of barefoot running (and minimalist, too).

As a physician, professor, and owner of Two Rivers Treads running shoe store, Mark is all about getting people running safely, enjoyably, and easily. Plus, he’s a really nice guy.

Mark just released an incredible video about “Natural Running.” His emphasis in the video is about running barefoot, but his point is that if you run with a natural gait, you may be fine in a minimialist running shoe, too.

Check out this video and let me know what you think.

One of my favorite parts is simply seeing mark run… FAST. There are so many critics who say “You never see barefoot runners who have any speed” (forgetting, of course, Abebe Bikila, Zola Budd, Ron Hill, and many other fast, barefoot Olympians).

I also like how Mark doesn’t emphasize exactly how your foot is supposed to hit the ground other than “don’t heel strike.” A number of us, including Mark and Pete Larson (of www.runblogger.com) have been saying, “There will be individual differences in how you land on your foot — from flat-footed, to fore-foot — that will depend on your physiology and biomechanics as well as how fast you’re running and whether you’re running uphill, downhill, and even on the surface.”

That said, most new runners may want to focus on a forefoot strike at first, if for no other reason than many of us have lost our proprioceptive skills from years of wearing shoes and may think we’re mid- or fore-foot landing when we’re still heel striking. I’ve had more than my share of runners try to convince me that their heels never touched the ground, even when looking at video showing them clearly heel striking.

Thanks to Mark for this great addition to the world of barefoot and natural running.

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  • Simon Hanna

    Agreed, a great video with lots of info and 8 minutes of my life well spent.
    Anybody interested in barefoot/minimalist should watch this. Even if the technical details go over your head, it shows you what good running form really looks like.

  • You’re listed in the credits! 🙂

    This is the first video I’ve seen of a speedy long distance barefoot runner. His tips gave me some pointers on efficiency that I can improve on. Thanks for posting!

  • JC

    This definitely helped me. I was able to improve my form, and be more bold when on the treadmill the other day and it really helped me to run further and faster.

  • All great information, very interesting and entertaining. However, I don’t know how to actually check my own form to see how close I am to ideal. And it seems like a lot of details to remember when you’re running! A coach would be handy!

  • Scott, yup. A coach is ideal, however, a camera works reasonably well too.


  • Randy Kreill., Beavercreek OH

    Great stuff from Mark!!

    His way of running is my goal. The input from Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running showed, so I wasn’t surprised to see Chi Running listed as one of Mark’s mentors.

    This past Wed. may have been my best training run ever, as it took me on a scenic, chilly, out and back 31+ mile route. Not fast, but with no walking, no undue discomforts, etc. I’m using the Chi Running “post run” stretching techniques during long runs to prevent extreme hamstring cramps, which worked. This was also my longest huarache run as well and fastest 50K time. As I watched Mark’s video, I can see that I’m slowly evolving towards his great technique. Based on the soreness in my hips/core, progess is happening. It feels good to be “running tall from the gut” and I’ve proven over and over now that even minimalist shoes hurt my feet and increase leg cramps during longer runs.

    The soreness in my quads was encouraging too, as it implies I’m doing things more like Mark, pulling those feet up and forward, NOT pushing them off the ground, but trying to get the body to “roll” along, gravity assisted, like the bikers do.

    One technique that helps set up posture just before running is to run backwards. It’s nearly impossible to do so with poor form. Then stop, lean forward from the ankles and let gravity start your run. Start tall and strong with the lower abs tighten and the pelvis level to the ground, and pull the crown of the head to the sky…this will put the proper curve in the spine… and go, always maintaining that strong core. With nearly perfect posture, your body becomes and efficient oxygen delivery system. With a strong core and most everything else relaxed, breathing deep into that strong core is a something that can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

    It took me a few months to find a tying/lacing technique that works perfectly for any length run with no problems or adjustments…maybe it can work for others as well, if you’ve not found something that’s maintenance free for hours of running:


    Happy Trails!


    Mark did a presentation just minutes walking from my house last year, and now I feel foolish for missing it! We live near the base where Mark won the USAF Marathon last year.

    It was late Sept. when the first pair of huaraches came my way from Inv. Shoes. In late Mar., I finished my first huarache marathon and will try for a very technical 32 mile trail course on Apr. 28th at John Bryan Park. As well as progress is going, I can’t imagine wearing anything more than 4MM huaraches on June 30, for a first 50 mile attempt at the local Dawg Gone Long 50M at Caesar’s Creek.

  • Randy Kreill., Beavercreek OH

    Small world. Dr Mark was at the New Balance Outlet in Dayton, OH last night doing a free running clinic. What a great guy, glad I attended and picked up some good tips/info. I’ll change up my “fueling” strategy for this weekend’s Tie Dye 32 mile trail “race”, and start working on incorporating “elasticity” more into my “chi run” form. After this year’s focus on form and endurance, I’ll need to be more like Mark to ever have a shot at a BQ’r.

    I tell people that if they are not enjoying their runs, something(s) is needing focus. Running should be fun…even joyful, meditative, etc. Mark started his presentation with that theme. PLAY. Most of our runs should be a form of play with no objective beyond enjoyment and he says when finished you should feel lke you could easily repeat that run. Something we are well advised to remember!!

    Thanks Mark! (I have no idea how he does all he does, but what an asset to the running community)

  • Beautiful running! A more in depth theory of how the legs extend in running can be found here:

    Also, the notion of “core stability” has long been debunked. See: The Myth of Core Stability here:

  • Simon Hanna

    Lawrence – very interesting info on leg extension and the roles of the biarticular muscles.

    Makes a lot sense to me as I’ve noticed how I don’t get sore/tight quads or hamstrings any more, and consequently don’t even think about stretching these days (other than calf/soleus).

  • Simon — me, too! I haven’t stretched after running in 25 years. Not that I am against it. I am simply not finishing my runs tighter than I began them, and, let’s face it, after you’ve run for an hour, it’s nice to take a shower and get on with your day.

    As for the calves, if you can get the gastrocnemious, the biarticular muscles of the calves, to work well, you should be able to leave out the calf stretching. After all, there is nothing that most of us do that requires us to stretch the calves while the knees are straight (as many runners do in the leaning against a tree stretch).

    As I said, I don’t stretch at all, but, at 61 years old, I have no trouble squatting with my heels down, or touching my toes with heel of my hands, etc. Just don’t ask me to sit on the floor cross-legged for a concert… that’s where I need to do some stretching.

  • Marcia Miller

    Excellent video! Well thought out, well explained. Thorough but not lengthy. I am definitely adding this to my training videos. Thanks to Dr. Mark for making it and you for sharing it!