Strikes Again

in Vibrams

I spent all last night on the couch, reading a book and watching Boardwalk Empire.  And keeping Maggie warm. 


That’s what fur moms are for, right?


Even though I was beat last night (a Sprint Triathlon on Saturday and a Super Sprint on Sunday will do that to you…), I woke up feeling pretty good.  In fact, I feel great!  The only soreness I have is in my feet – and I think I know why.


Heel striking strikes again.


Look – apparently I did heel striked (struck?) all the way to the finish line on Saturday.  And probably through much of the race.


I’ve really been trying to pay attention to my form and modify my gait so I don’t heel strike, but it’s so easy to fall into the ‘lull’ of running and end up smacking my heel again the ground (which is bad because it inflicts a lot of force to your knee, hips, and spine and can cause injuries – it’s better to land on your forefoot). 


Since so many people have recommended the Chi Running workshops, I tried to get into a Charlotte class.  However, I’m busy the day of all the workshops – boo!  Chi runners – do you think reading the Chi Running book would be just as effective?  I’m such a visual learner…


Anyway – I went on a 2.0 mile walk this morning with James in my Vibrams.  The last thing I wanted to do was put back on my sneakers.  I’ve been slowly re-introducing my Vibrams (you have to really ease into barefoot walking/running).  Hopefully, this will help with my form, too.  In the very least, it makes me more aware of my footfalls.


When we got home, I made breakfast:



Scrambled eggs with cilantro (try it – yum!), toast, and an orange.


Then I hightailed it to the shower, through my hair into a sock bun, and got my day started.  Hi ho, it’s back to work I go.


Have a wonderful Monday!



  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 26, 2011, 10:11 am

    You definitely deserve a night on the couch after all your hard work this weekend Caitlin! I can only imagine that Vibrams feel a million times better than running shoes after 2 races. I haven’t read the Chi Running book, but occasionally when I run, I’ll try to pay attention to my gait and make sure I’m not heel striking. I don’t think it’s a major problem for me because if it were, I’d probably have experienced more injuries by now! Curious to hear what you think though if you read the book. 🙂

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery September 26, 2011, 10:17 am

    I’ve always been intrigued by vibrams ever since I first read about them on your blog. By the way, I really like the additions to the right column of the blog!

  • Katie September 26, 2011, 10:17 am

    I’m not a runner, but I naturally land on the ball of my foot when I run. My friends were watching me about a month ago, all said I was running strangely, and told me to land on my heel. Glad to know I was doing it right all along! Sorry your heels are in bad shape though 🙁

    • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 26, 2011, 10:25 am

      From my understanding, heel striking is believed to lead to injuries more easily than midfoot (or forefoot) striking because your body lines up over your feet compared to your legs being in front of your body when you strike with the heel.
      Heel striking is kinda old school. It’s the way that I learned to run, myself, back as a kid in cross country.

      Your friends may not be doing it ‘wrong’ though if they haven’t experienced pain from running though because by running with a shorter stride you can negate any of the negative effects of running with a heel strike.

      In my opinion, if you are running pain free then you are probably doing something right (but I’m no professional, that’s just my thoughts)

  • Sam September 26, 2011, 10:22 am

    I know what you mean about the heel striking. I try to avoid it too but it is hard! I am also (slowly) easing into ‘barefoot’ running, and that was the first thing I really noticed! I haven’t been using my minimal shoes at all as I am training for a 10k and i didn’t want to be half into them and half out for my race. Perhaps after the race I’ll get back to it!

  • Khushboo September 26, 2011, 10:27 am

    Ive never tried Vibrams but I would def like to. Do you find it easier to run with those than with normal running shoes?

  • sarah@spinach and spice September 26, 2011, 10:30 am

    I love scrambled eggs with cilantro! Great combination 🙂

  • Mia September 26, 2011, 10:34 am

    heel striking is bad news. After running 35 – 40 miles per week on a consistent basis I developed some pretty serious heel spurs in my right foot, so I was forced to change my gait. Heel spurs are extremely’s basically like a bunch of little fractures in your heel – you definitely don’t want that!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:20 pm


  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) September 26, 2011, 10:41 am

    I practically run on my toes, so heel striking looks so uncomfortable! I love that picture of Maggie. I wish I had a dog to snuggle with 🙂

  • Mary September 26, 2011, 10:42 am

    I think if you go for little jogs in your vibrams it should help your foot strike. You’ll be more aware of your form, etc 🙂

  • Jen September 26, 2011, 10:55 am

    Maggie is so cute! My kitten likes to rest on my fiancé and me like that, with his head over our necks. So precious.

    By the way, what GF bread have you been using? I’m always looking for new varieties to test out. 🙂

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) September 26, 2011, 11:09 am

    I’m such a horrible heal striker, which is why I’ve probably been in PT two times this year for shin and ankle issues.

    In fact, I didn’t realize that my heal strike was so aggressive until I was in PT today. I am re-introducing running after taking 10 weeks off due to a stress fracture and I was on the treadmill today with a full length mirror in front of me. My therapist told me to look at my form and immediately I realized how bad my heal strike is!

  • Cyndi September 26, 2011, 11:18 am

    get the book, and video or simply surf you-tube which is how I’m teaching myself. I’ve realized after 6 or so months that I think I’ve mastered the technique and what works for me at my long distance pace but still need to work on sprinting form as it’s totally different. Long, slow pace calls for low knees, high heels – sprinting properly should find your knee high in front, extended rear leg (called paw back)a HIGHER heel – like up to your glutes and still placing the fore foot under the body, thus avoiding heel strike. I think your hubs and a video camera and an hour at the park will be beneficial. It’s also important to really understand how to land forefoot because you will drop to your heel otherwise you can cause damage to your calf and achilles, the difference is the alignment of your foot and what takes the initial impact. Sprinting short distances may find you more toward your toes but you wouldn’t run miles and miles like that. Good luck – it’s a process and I’m still learning too!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:20 pm

      I’m going to go scour YouTube!

  • Cat @Breakfast to Bed September 26, 2011, 11:20 am

    cilantro is delicious on everything. I sometimes think it would be delicious on breakfast cereal. Or Not. You know.

  • deva @ deva by definition September 26, 2011, 11:25 am

    When I heel-strike, I end up having pain in my mid-foot. I’ve been working on shortening my stride to how I ran in high school, and working on taking 3 steps per second. I downloaded an app on my iPhone called “Cadence” that I saw recommended on Tina’s blog to try to get to 180 steps a minute – by listening to music with 180 bpm. Surprisingly enough – the songs I love running to the most? Are 180 bpm. Who knew!?!?

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run September 26, 2011, 11:41 am

    Ah, the old running form. Heel striking has gotten a lot of attention lately because of Born to Run and Vibrams, although there really isn’t any study that definitively says that it’s bad for you. It’s not proven to be better to land on your forefoot! The force provided to your body is the same amount, it’s just sent through your body in a different way.

    The debate is largely whether or not it’s worth the risk of changing your form to reap any benefits. If you’re getting injured the way you’re running now, form is only one part of the puzzle. Are you undertrained? Overtrained? Many people often injure themselves when trying to change their form…take a look at Dathan Ritzenhein, for example, who set records with his “bad” form and injured himself while trying to accomplish “good” form. Paula Radcliffe is an amazing running with horrendous form. Changing form takes a lot of work and mental energy, and you have to wonder if it’s worth it…we’re not making a living off of this, and the main goal is to stay healthy. I’m a heel-midfoot striker, run well, and am healthy. Trying to change my form might invite injury, so I have no intention of trying to move toward only a midfoot strike because it’s the “right” way to run. No study has proven the best way to run…they just show what works best for one runner here or there, and with any research study, a sample size of one doesn’t prove anything.

    Form is very individual, and what works for me might not work for you. However, if people are getting injured, they need to look at the entire picture and not just think that form is always the culprit…it often may be something else. Just my two cents!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:19 pm

      Thank you so much Susan. This was such a helpful comment. I’m sure it really helped a lot of people – it helped me!

  • Rebecca September 26, 2011, 11:53 am

    First of all, I think you are amazing for racing twice in one weekend.

    As a former heel-striker, I think the shoes I wear determine largely determine my running form. When I run in my Saucony’s(like yours) the heel is very high, so I tend to heel-strike more. They do make a few shoes without the high heel though, such as the Kinvara and the Mirage.

    Maybe you should try wearing a shoe with a lower heel, so that you can land forward a bit more.

    I do better with Brooks or Nike Frees.

    You can switch your landing with a bit of practice, because now I notice that the midfoot of my shoes get worn out, but the heel stays pristine. Which is a very good sign!

    Good luck!

  • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 11:55 am

    Cilantro on eggs? AMAZING idea!! I am obsessed with cilantro.

  • Corrie @ Blurb Column September 26, 2011, 11:56 am

    I would say get the book. If nothing else it gives you good information and ways to visualize the form better. Some of my best takeaways were to imagine a string pulling my chest forward (keeping my head up) and being able to visualize the power for running coming from the core, not the legs. I think it is written well enough that even a visual learner would gain something from the book.

  • Nicole (the other one) September 26, 2011, 11:56 am

    I’m a visual learner also (and a former heel striker). I watched the video at the bottom of this website and found it very helpful:

    The foot lands directly under the body as they come down and it’s the back foot that propels you forward. Running this way really helped with my knee problems.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:18 pm

      Thank you for this Nicole!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb September 26, 2011, 12:12 pm

    i love adding herbs to eggs… they create such a wonderful flavor and spice up what could otherwise be boring scrambled eggs.

  • Amanda September 26, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I’m not a visual learner so I have found the chi running book helpful. It’s kind of like listening to instructions in yoga class and making adjustments which is why I think it’s working for me. Ran 5 miles yesterday attempting to chi run and I don’t think I could have done the whole thing if I was running my old way (major heel striker). My only issue right now is because I overpronate I’m still landing on my foot while it’s angled so I have a little bit of toe pain this morning 🙁 They have a DVD too if you wanted to watch the form? I don’t have it so I don’t know if it’s any good.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:18 pm

      Ooo What a glowing review! I hope it helps me too.

  • Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs September 26, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I used to be a lot worse about heel striking than I am now, I seriously would sit and think, HOW is it possible NOT to?!?! One thing I heard from my brother (and avid cyclist) who heard from his friend (tri competator) that if you think of your legs/feet going in a circle and lean your weight slighly forward your form will improve. It’s something I try to think about. I’ve also noticed if I run after wearing heels at the offiec then I heel strike less because they hurt haha.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:18 pm

      That is actually a wonderful tip. Thanks!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife September 26, 2011, 12:22 pm

    I do need to concentrate on my form too. I am afraid to see some of my ‘foot’ pics too 🙂 Hehe. Love cilantro in almost ANYthing!

  • Cat September 26, 2011, 12:30 pm

    One of my instructors is into Chi running and she does not recommend the book. She opted to do 4 (or so) hours of individual training, rather than a full day of the workshop training. She said the cost was relatively the same and felt like she got much more out of it since it was all focused on her and her form. Definitely something to consider!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:16 pm

      Nice – I will look into this!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans September 26, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Do y ou have any tips (or a previous post) on how to change your form to be a better runner? I have a small stride and I heel strike which makes me especially inefficient!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:16 pm

      I do not – but I would check out the Chi Running website!

  • Megs September 26, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Also looking ot something called Pose Running (similar to Chi but maybe the videos, books, and workshops will help you).

    The common running sneaker promotes a heel strike. You cannot feel the ground underneath you.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:15 pm

      Awesome – thanks!

  • Hillary September 26, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Not to be a total creeper, but I noticed your heel strikes when you posted these pics over the weekend (mainly because I’m a major heel striker too, so I’m constantly on the look out for how other people land). Let me know if the book helps at all; I need as much help as I can get!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:14 pm

      I will definitely do a review!

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 26, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I think I do the same thing, I’m working on not heel striking and having better form, but once you get into the run, all that seems to go to the wayside and focusing on finishing is all i’m thinking about!

  • B n B September 26, 2011, 3:02 pm

    What are you reading now?

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:14 pm

      reading the hunger games again!

  • Ffion @ Chocolate and Raspberiies September 26, 2011, 3:52 pm

    Cilantro and eggs is definitely a winner! I’ve not done it in awhile though! I love the sock bun!

  • Molly @ RDexposed September 26, 2011, 6:32 pm

    Maggie looks like the perfect pillow!

  • Brittney September 26, 2011, 7:42 pm

    I did my first triathlon two weeks ago and fell in love with it. I am used to long distance races but a tri is the perfect blend. Not long enough to get bored or mad at myself.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:14 pm

      Hahah I agree 🙂

  • Joanna September 26, 2011, 8:14 pm

    I have a copy of the Chi Running book that I’m not using. If you want to give it a shot, I’m happy to send it your way!

    • Caitlin September 26, 2011, 9:13 pm

      Ah you are so sweet! I bought it today though! Damn!

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness September 27, 2011, 7:18 am

    Aaah, I love that picture of yours and James’ feet! Sooo adorable! And the one of you and maggie snuggling. you’re such a good woof mommy, Caitlin! Looks like a delicious breakfast – can’t beat scrambled eggs! My bf and I were looking at Vibrams yesterday here in NYC- never seen them back home in the UK – and were both seriouly debating buying them, they look awesome! <3 xyx

  • Alett September 27, 2011, 10:20 am

    I was a confessed heel striker for all of my life. I started to change my form last year by doing short stints (starting with a few minutes at a time) then building to longer periods forefoot striking. I did this transition in my regular running shoes; I used to wear Asics 2100 series shoes. Part of the problem with fully transitioning may be that your shoe may have a fairly large heel to toe drop. What shoes are you using?

    While I have Vibram bikilas, admittedly I do not run in them. However, after a few months “forefoot” striking in my Asics, my original “go to” shoes became uncomfortable to wear. I started transitioning Newton running shoes into my shoe rotation. A lot of people like these shoes; admittedly they are now the only shoes that I can run in. NOTE: if you were to transition to this brand start with the Lady Isaac and start VERY slowly eg. 15 min runs. I took 8 months to transition and still managed to get a calf injury. If you do not want to go the Newton route you may wish to consider a shoe with a lower heel to toe drop (again very slow transition).

    : )

  • Phil September 27, 2011, 10:44 am

    I learned with just the book, but if you are very visual, get the DVD too. The DVD gives the visual learners that “aha” moment they were looking for, then you can schedule a session with a certified chi running instructor (most of them will do private sessions). One of the above comments about the heel to drop ratio and helping you learn not to heel strike is correct, but I would not go with a minimal shoe right away. Atra Running makes a great zero drop shoe that has all the cushion of a regular running shoe and it’s shape like your foot! Great shoe to transition into when learning the mid-foot strike.

  • Eleah September 27, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I struggle with not heel striking, too. I did BFR last summer and LOVED it. I was up to a 3/4 mile run on the corkscrew track after about a month when I went out on a way-too-hot day. I had to run in the grass and ended up pushing my feet to the limit (stress fracture.) I haven’t attempted it since.
    I have the Pose method book but it is difficult to use just the book because you cannot see yourself running and you can’t really tell if your form is correct.

  • Stuart September 28, 2011, 1:02 am

    I would not hesitate to get into ChiRunning. It will fix the heel striking issues for sure. I have just had the book to work with as well as some youtube footage and I am recovering quicker and quicker as I master the “focuses”. I have just done a very hilly 25km trail run on the weekend. Did it in 2hrs 40mins applying ChiRunning focuses. As of writing this 4 days later I have been on 3 runs since (1 hour each in duration) and am ready to run a half marathon in 10 days time. Last time I ran the same 25km hilly trail run I run 10mins quicker but worked that hard I had to have a week off work as I came down with cold sores all over my face. Yuck!!!! Give ChiRunning a go to fix the heel striker and enable you to bounce back fresh and ready for the next challange.

    • CaitlinHTP September 28, 2011, 6:36 am

      Thanks! I’m excited for the book.

  • Mike July 4, 2012, 12:20 am

    Can we see more of you wearing your vibrams?

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