Update -- Osteoarthritis and Changing My Running Gait to Toe-First Landing

Almost a year ago, I wrote that I had had to give up running due to my osteoarthritis but that I was looking for ways to at least still run a bit.  I really enjoy running, especially when I travel as a way to explore new places.  I am not a fan of bike riding, which is always the first suggestion people make as an alternative, but I do like my elliptical scooter and ride it from time to time.  But I can't take it on trips with me and I still like running.

It was at that time a year ago that I read an article about running gait and the potential for different gaits to have less impact on the knees (sorry I can't find the article now).  I realized I was a heavy heel-first landing runner, landing so hard each time it felt like I pile-driving my knees and spine.  So I started experimenting with different styles of running, including the classic old-guy waddle.  But what seemed to have the most benefit was running on my toes.  Whenever I ran uphill, my knees never hurt.  What if landing toe-first allowed the foot to be a sort of shock absorber?

Well, changing one's entire running gait at 56 was pretty much as hard as you might imagine.  The first few times I tried it I pulled something in both calves.  While that healed, I decided to strengthen my calves by walking on my toes.  I got to doing 5 miles with a pack totally on my toes which I am sure made me an oddball around the neighborhood (though to some extent this ship has already sailed as I do Pimsleur language courses as I walk so I am also the weird dude mumbling in Mandarin around the neighborhood).  I tried using Newton Gravity running shoes that have a design that almost ensures a toe first landing, but they just made the calf problems worse.

Today, I am finally turning a corner.  I ran five miles last weekend in my best time since I was last marathon training -- even a bit better in fact.  My endurance is still not great because I took so much time off and because I am sure this gait, being less natural for me, is not as efficient.  But being able to run 3-5 miles a couple of times a week, and maybe the odd 10K, really is all I was looking for and so (knock on wood) I will declare victory.  As an aside, and perhaps entirely unrelated to any of this, I have had zero problems in the last year with my heretofore recurring plantar fasciitis issues.

I am not a doctor, so ymmv.  My theory here may be complete BS, or counter-productive, or just a placebo.  Actual people who know things about this are encouraged to comment and dissuade folks if this is all terrible advice.