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.

Mud and Mum!

This week has been a bit of a slower week. I got out for a 12 mile long run early Sunday morning which felt very easy and comfortable, by the end of the day I’d already recovered from it. I wasn’t able to get out on Tuesday, as I wanted to spend the entire evening with my lovely wife (running is a hobby, I won’t put family behind a hobby). I did manage to get out on Thursday to Manor Farm Country Park, which is a lovely little area of woods and trails a couple of miles from home. The only downside is that I had to pay £2 to park in the car park there! Next time, I may just run there and then round, or park on a street closer and run into the park.

Manor Farm Country Park

The above is an image not taken by myself on the day, I can tell because it isn’t covered in mud, glorious mud. There was so much mud on the trails on Thursday that running just over 6 miles through it was way more effort than the 12 miles road running I did on Sunday. Two days later and I can still feel the burning in my calves. All that said, despite it being ridiculously muddy, and hilly, and cold, and wet, I loved it! Every last second was enjoyable, even the twice I slipped I was able to just laugh off and get back with it as it was wonderful being out in nature and see sights like the below.

View from the trail

The only time in the entire run I had a bad moment was coming down a slippery slope just after hopping through a stile when I slipped on a branch hidden under 3 inches of mud and rolled my ankle. The fraction of a second between doing it and needing to put weight back on that leg was a moment of extreme panic “How hurt am I?” “Will I be able to finish running today?” “Have I injured myself and put myself out of the marathon?”. Luckily, it was only tender for about 30 seconds and by the end of the run, I’d forgotten about it.

The only other time I’ve rolled my ankle like that running was on the road a few weeks ago, there was no hidden branch under the mud, so I have no excuses, I simply misjudged when running across the road and hopping up onto the pavement. It wasn’t as big a panic moment as Thursday, but at the end of the run I had a look at the side of my shoe where I’d felt it impact the floor/kerb and seen that the friction had caused a small hole in the outer fabric on the shoe. As I’d only just got these for Christmas from Becca, I was far from impressed and have kept an eye on it to see if the hole was growing or fraying more. I’m pretty sure my imagination had increased the hole to something the size of a meteor crater over the subsequent couple of weeks (looking back I don’t think it had changed much), so I decided I was going to use my non-existing sewing knowledge to put some stitches across the gap to keep the edges together. Luckily, Becca convinced me that as we were going to visit my parents this weekend, it’d be better to let my mum have a look at it instead. The results from her stitching today are below.

Before and After

     Before                                         After

What a good job she did! Not only am I lucky enough to have a mother who is willing and able to stitch over a hole in my shoes, but I have a wife with enough wisdom to curb my impulsive nature to ‘fix’ things myself. I’m a lucky man.

I’m hoping the stitches hold through tomorrow’s 12 mile run. Not sure what I’ll do next, I may need some Shoe Goo.