So, I may be a heel striker

So I had a look at the bottom of my running shoes yesterday for any wear and tear (Incidentally, the needlework my mum did last week is still holding strong after nearly 20 more miles in the shoes), and spotted a very interesting pattern of wear on the heels.

Heels of my shoes

Heels of my shoes

If you look a the outside edges of both heels (more noticeable on the left foot – the upper of the 2 in the picture), you can see that the thing green rubber is wearing through and exposing the EVA cushioning below, which won’t be as robust over time.

Now I don’t think I heel strike when running, in fact when I think about my running form I’m mostly happy with it as it feels mostly like I’m landing my whole foot at the same time. Only very occasionally near the end of a longer run or if I get distracted do I actually feel myself land heel first, and in these shoes, I definitely do feel it. The wear on my shoes suggests something completely different. Although it is only on that very outside part of the heel, the rest seems to be holding up well with minimal wear.

I think what’s happening is that I’m not landing on the heel exactly, but it’s not far off. I seem to be sliding the outside of my foot on the group just before the entire foot lands. That’s why I’m not feeling any massive impact, but the abrasive nature of the heel sliding over the ground is akin to me rubbing sandpaper across the bottom of the shoes.

I think I need to do more work on my running form. Get out for some shorter runs in my Fivefingers and really focus on how I’m landing before I completely wear through my heels!

On a plus note, had a successful run yesterday, did a 10k around the area I live in 47:53, that’s 5 mins quicker than I’ve done before, but it could have been quicker if I hadn’t had to avoid all the mothers and parents walking home from school (seriously though, do they ever give up any space on the pavement? Why’s it always me that has to run on the grass/roads whilst they walk 5-abreast). I need to do some more speed-work in preparation for the marathon, but this was encouraging.

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5 thoughts on “So, I may be a heel striker

    • Yeah, I was thinking about doing either that or just leaving a camera somewhere near ground level and film it a few times. The main thing I’d be concerned about would be that if I know I’m being filmed, I’d pay particular attention to my form and it wouldn’t be as ‘natural’ as it is 10miles into a long run. At least it would be something!

  1. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the visit and the like.
    Being a heel striker may not be all bad.
    A good friend of mine and runner really do not care about how she run at all, she just runs.
    70-100K a week that is. She just happens to have a mild heel strike too, but she has been running problem free for 20 years.
    So while it may annoy you, perhaps it may not be as paramount as you think.
    That said, are you running in a shoe with a big drop?

    • Thanks for the info Thomas. My shoes are inov-8 Bare-x 233’s so the drop is 6mm. I’m trying to transition gradually. I think losing that 6mm may stop the heel sliding effect I seem to be having, but I’ll keep focusing on form for now.

      I do agree though, heel striking isn’t bad, the important thing is where your foot lands in relation to your body and I’m confident my feet land nearly under my main body weight. Time will tell, I’m doing a slow 14 mile tomorrow and will be super conscious of form throughout.

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