I regularly race Duathlons and Triathlons. When I am off the bike and running my calves are like rocks for the first mile. I have been told to try to flatten by foot and not "Point" my toes down.

I use Speedplay pedals. I have regular Specialized Road shoes (Stiff soles) I ride a road bike (Gary Fisher Cronus)

My question: Should I always try to pedal flat and without my toe pointed down?

2 Answers 2


I think most people find the bike-to-run transition quite difficult while the legs adjust from going in a circular motion to running. Particularly for longer distance courses.

Here's an interesting article from a renowned triathlon athlete/coach: http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2007/01/cleat-position.html

The article discusses the merits of putting your cleat towards the rear of your foot / under the arch vs the more traditional ball-of-foot location. Having re-located the cleat to the arch of his foot, Joe (the author) found that his performance improved.

Moving the cleat towards the rear of the foot engages the larger quads and glutes muscles, taking the strain off the calf and leaving you fresher for the run.

So perhaps you should give it a whirl? The article references a Speedplay adaptor that enables this cleat position, though I haven't seen it myself. As comments underneath the article identify, there may be a need to adjust your position on the bike as pedalling with arch of your foot will bring you forward slightly.


There is at least one other question on this forum that relates to this topic: Why not place the cleats further back on the foot?

I've added some of the information contributed by others here (as well as some more of my own thoughts/interpretation) that I think is relevant:

  • There is an increased risk of your toe colliding with the front wheel. However, this is only really an issue when turning at low speeds.
  • A mid-foot cleat/pedal position may be more suited to steady-state events (TT, Triathlon, etc), rather than for sprinting or criteriums where rapid changes of pace occur. Not sure whether there is scientific reasoning to support this, or if it is just some riders' preference.
  • Moving your cleat in this manner (or any other significant change to your ride mechanics, for that matter) is likely to require time for your muscles to adapt to the new position. Incremental changes are likely to reduce the risk of injury associated with changing your ride mechanics.
  • +1 And try using a lower cadence, driving with quads and glutes. It's about keeping the energy stored in the calves for when you need it.
    – andy256
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 3:03
  • Lower cadence would suggest higher force and seem counter-intuitive to me. I'd be keen to learn if lower cadence takes the strain off the calves - any sources?
    – adey_888
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 3:07
  • More information about mid-foot cleat positioning on this question: bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/7433/1588
    – Mac
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 3:08
  • Interesting that the most-voted for answer seemed to be a big proponent for keeping the cleat under the ball of the foot. Other good info on that question includes implication of putting cleat under tendon of the arch (too much too soon could result in something like plantar fasciitis I suspect). Also: Midfoot is not suited to sprint events or crits where rapid changes of pace occur - it's suited to steady state events - TT, Triathlon, Audax, etc. Something like 6 out of top 10 Kona Ironman finishers were using midfoot. is a good point.
    – adey_888
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 3:15
  • 2
    As an MTBer running lowish cadence I moved my cleats back on various advise. I went back to ball mount after giving it quite a while. Cleat position, IMHO, is personal. Try it, do it if it works for you.
    – mattnz
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 7:52

There are many factors to consider. Without being able to be scientific about it, people do evolve a natural pedal technique and I don't see the point in trying to radically change it, rather you should first have your bike fit and set up performed properly, and then allow your own natural style to evolve.

There have been major cycling champions that were toe down, heel down and neutral in the way they pedalled. Neither is right or wrong, provided the bike fit is good to start with.

My local bike fit specialist has written about it, and it's worth a read. Lots of art in the subject, some science. http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/04/power-to-the-pedal-cleat-position/

Consider your own circumstances and individual issues, and don't forget that cleat placement has several degrees of freedom (fore/aft, inner/outer Q factor, rotational, height above pedal axle, as well as amount of pedal float) and each plays a role in how you adapt, as well as the shoes, cranks and pedal system you use. Of course saddle height and placement impacts these things as well well.

  • This is funny... your link is also in this question: bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/7433/1588
    – Mac
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 4:03
  • I didn't read that other thread, so if I've duplicated something, it wasn't intentional. I just know Steve personally and knew he'd written about the topic of cleat placement, so thought I'd find and post the link. Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 6:21
  • I'm certainly not criticizing it's just interesting that there clearly isn't a lot of information about cleat placement so the same 2 or 3 articles keep cropping up.
    – Mac
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 22:32

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