Monthly Archives: October 2012

  • Running in Autumn

    Mt. Hood in the autumn.

    Every Wednesday we give our followers a three word limit to describe a topic or question. Last week we asked what three words they would use to describe running in autumn. Colors

    Colors Leaves Cool

    Brisk, Fresh, Colorful

    Leaves, Cooler Temperatures

    Cool. Refreshing. Magical. (I live in Florida, I can't say colors)

    Mercifully not hot. or. Prepare For Snow

    Not Stifling Hot

    Cool, Crisp, Collected.

    Cool and beautiful

    No Excuses

    Muddy squishy trails.

    Cool Weather!


    Love running anytime

    Lots of colors


    Crunch of leaves!

    "Cool & Crisp"

    Cold Wet Muddy!

    Sights, smells, trails

    Crackling leaves underfoot

    Leggings and gloves!

    crisp colors :)

    The Colors

    Rain, Mud, Falling

    Less blistering heat (I'm in Tampa)

    Canada is c-c-c-cold!

    Smell of Leaves :)

  • Efficiency & footwear (or lack of)

    Alex Hutchinson at Sweat Science recently wrote a post highlighting two studies looking at the effect of a small amount of cushioning on the energy cost of running.

    The first study had athletes run in lightweight shoes and barefoot with weights on their feet equal to the weight of the previously used shoes. The results showed that running in the shoes preserved energy while running. Interestingly, they also found that barefoot without added weight was still less efficient than with shoes. The belief is that without the cushioning, the leg muscles must do a bit extra work to absorb the landing.

    While there may have been other issues with the study, one is very obvious. No one runs with weights attached to their feet.

    To try to remedy this, another study was recently completed. They tested athletes running barefoot and running in lightweight shoes. "As expected, the cost of running was about the same in both conditions -- the extra energy burned by the weight of the shoes was almost exactly balanced by the energy saved by the cushioning," said Hutchinson. Next however, the researchers put 10mm of EVA on the treadmill. This basically placed cushioning under the athlete's feet without adding any extra weight. When the barefoot runners ran on the cushioned treadmill, they burned 1.91% less energy than when they ran barefoot on a hard surface.

    While the studies did teach us something, it does not seem like it will actually change the mind or habits of anyone.

    From these two studies we can conclude that a small amount of cushioning saves energy, but the weight of the shoe takes energy, though, not as much as is saved if the shoe is very very light.

    So the take away is to simply do what is best for you. Many runners take their shoes off for the pure joy of being barefoot and all of the sensory feedback it gives, not to be a more efficient runner. The increased feedback of being unshod can increase the "feel good" sensation that running gives us! On the other hand, if you wish to squeeze the most speed or endurance out of your running as you can, shoes may be a viable option for you.

    Another option is you could mix the two practices. Running barefoot is less efficient. So it is a reasonable idea to include some barefoot running in your training to strengthen your legs. When it comes to those key workouts or races were performance really matters, shoes, and that 1.91% may make a difference.

    What factors influence your footwear choices?

  • Form Review - Running & Rambling

    Running and Rambling is a popular blog due to it's great content and extensive list of running shoe and gear reviews. The blog's author, Donald, is an ultra marathoner living and running in Monterey County, California. Here he and his wife review the SKORA Form.

    I also typically wear my FORMs without socks, and even during my 31-miler, comfort was great without any hot spots or other problems.

  • Use a standing desk for recovery?

    There is little doubt in people's minds that spending 8 hours a day sitting at work and a few more at home is bad for our heath. The rise of the standing desk, in the last few years specifically, is a result of this increased awareness.

    However, could the use of a standing desk eventually increase your ability to recover from stressful workouts?

    The theory is that while standing, you are causing an increase in circulation. Improved blood flow means an increase in the amount of oxygen and nutrients brought to the muscles to help them rebuild. This standing can also keep the muscles warm and loose to avoid the stiffness associated with prolonged sitting. Standing can potentially lead to strengthened muscles as well, from your feet all of the up your body.

    This prolonged position in a chair also has negative physical effects. It shortens the hip muscles, lengthens your backside, and then you suddenly stand up and expect your muscles to work properly during a run? Some health professionals even believe sitting is one of the major causes of muscle imbalances, which can lead to running injuries.

    Have you tried a standing desk? Just with anything, remember to ease into it slowly.


  • Transitioning to ‘Real Running’

    Transitioning to minimal shoes.

    In the past few years, there has been a paradigm shift in the design of running shoes to more minimal cushioning, lower heel heights, and greater flexibility to allow the foot to move in a more natural manner.

    Most major name brands in the industry seemingly halted all other pursuits once this trend went mainstream to create a minimal line of footwear to accommodate this change of philosophy.

    As a competitive runner who had often trained in racing flats before this trend came about, I was pleased to see whole lines of minimalist shoes on the market to choose from by early 2010. However, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think “Do these companies really believe in the merits of minimal footwear, or are they just trying to match their competition?Read More

  • Product Review - Brite Buds

    For safety reasons, I have never been one to run outside with earphones in both ears. For years I have cut off one of the cords on most of my earphones so I could run with music or podcasts in one ear, and have the other ear free to hear traffic, other runners, cyclists, etc. You know how when you listen to music and you will hear something different in both ears? Well by cutting off a cord, I was missing out on some of my music! In 2011 Far End Gear introduced a single earbud that combined both stereo channels, solving this issue.

    In 2012 he took it a step further by introducing the Brite Bud.

    Developed with the nocturnal athlete and outdoorsman in mind, Brite Buds™ Reflective Cord Earbuds employ the same inter-locking plaiting process used in high-grade parachute cord. Weaving water-resistant fibers with glass bead retro-reflective threading has resulted in the creation of the first line of reflective earphones specifically designed for strength and increased visibility during nighttime activity.

    I've been using the One Good Earphone and now the Brite Bud since late 2011 and consider them an important part of my training gear. I even use them often while not running. The sound quality is excellent and I never feel like I'm missing anything by only having one earbud in.

    You can purchase the Brite Bud as a single earphone or a double. The package includes three different sized rubber tips, to customize fit. I have yet to have it fall out, even while performing <400m repeats on a track.

    Far End Gear also has the other products. The Short Buds have a 15" cord. Perfect if you have your music player hooked to your sleeve or cap and want to avoid extra cord. The One Good Earphones are a non reflective single sided earphone.

  • Real Runner: Peyton Hoyal

    Here we interview Peyton Hoyal. A 2:32 marathoner from Blowing Rock, NC. This was a fun opportunity to pick the brain of a competitive semi-elite athlete! Thanks for taking the time to let us ask you some questions Peyton. Could you tell us a bit about your running background? What was the initial push that started you running?

    Peyton: Sure. I started running for fitness towards the latter part of my eight grade year. Coming from a Deep South football town, I had always been a ball player before I discovered I had a talent for distance running during a JROTC PT test. I led our battalion in the mile run off of virtually zero formal training, and a fire was apparently kindled.

    In my first two years of high school, I eventually stopped playing football and took up road racing and track. My high school didn't have a cross country program until my junior year when I approached our school principal (a family friend, fortunately) and proposed the idea. I helped coordinate our team's training and arose every morning before school to log my base mileage. I went on to set several current school records, which isn't saying much, but it did land me a scholarship to Berry College in Rome, GA, which was an NAIA distance running powerhouse at the time.

    While at Berry, I pursued a degree in English/Secondary Education to become a teacher. Our team was quite talented, but eventually our budget began to lessen and Berry made the decision to join the NCAA D3 ranks for academic reasons. However, before we made the shift I managed to place fifth overall in the Marathon event at the 2009 NAIA Track & Field Championships, earning me All-American status. This remains one of my chief running accomplishments to date. You have mentioned being a rather average high school runner. What have been some of the greatest influences on yourself and your athletics that helped turn you into an All-American?

    Peyton: In high school, due to our location in rural Georgia, it was quite easy for me to win even larger regional meets with a 17:00 XC 5K or 4:50 1600m on the track. Therefore, I ran a lot of races in that approximate time range just because I had little competition to push me along on a weekly basis. This led to my performances stagnating a good deal until I went to college, although I was training at a collegiate level by my senior year. A student of the sport from my earliest days as a runner, I read Lydiard, Jack Daniels, Toby Tanser, and every running magazine on the rack during high school. I logged up to 80mls a week as an eighteen year old, knew that my hard work would pay off soon, and just kept my nose to the grindstone until my first season as a collegiate runner at Berry.

    Once in college, it still took a little while to reap the benefits of my training due to the normal adjustment period for freshmen, especially student athletes. However, the new guidance of our coach Paul Deaton, the camaraderie of a team of friends, and my usual work ethic eventually paid off with a few break-through seasons that eventually led to my success at NAIA Track Nationals. Specifically, self-discipline, high-mileage, continuous strength-based workouts, and the support of my family and friends helped boost me along in college. After 2009, however, we never had the chance to compete on a national level again due to our school's commitment to a Division 3 "transition phase". I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had two more shots at a national title in the marathon, that event being unique to the NAIA. Now that you are out of school and on your own schedule, what is your training and racing like?

    Peyton: I have a lot more freedom to choose specific races now that I am out of college, and also have much more flexibility in terms of training. In college, the pressure to perform at a high level day in and day out is often extremely high. I remember plenty of scheduled easy runs turning into all-out races in school with everyone's "alpha male" instincts kicking in way too often. At present, I am setting PR's almost on a monthly basis by training smarter, letting my work schedule guide what I can feasibly do each week, and practicing a huge modality between my easy and hard training sessions. I do not operate with a set schedule, per say, but my training is geared towards increasing specificity towards goal races, maximizing the aerobic system without logging huge miles, and keeping muscular speed training in the mix year-round to avoid injury. A typical week for me includes 35-40hrs of work, 80-100mls of training, and usually only two key quality sessions that are often very challenging. I usually race once a month, the distance depending on what my goal competition is for a particular cycle. What are some of your goals for the rest of this season, and into the future?

    Peyton: This fall, my girlfriend and I are racing the USATF Southeastern Marathon Championships in the Outer Banks of North Carolina on November 11. I am training to run between 2:26-2:28, hopefully earning me a spot on the podium. My future goals are to continually improve across the spectrum of racing distances, win major regional road races, and qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials before 2020. What is your favorite memory associated with running?

    Peyton: I have many fond memories of my college running experience. Everything from a whimsical late-night adventure at Graceland in Memphis, to riotous dinner conversations with my teammates in Berry's dining hall, to big cross country successes, I look back nostalgically on my days as a collegiate athlete. At present, one of the most charged moments of my running career was coming into the stadium for a final lap at the NAIA Marathon knowing that I would finish fifth in the country that day. The announcer's voice calling my name, the look of excitement on my coach's face, and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment were all quite dream-like. That remains a very potent memory, but I hope to best this particular experience in the near future with other successes, both personally and from those that I coach. I bet autumn in North Carolina is beautiful, how are the winters? Do you spend a lot of time indoors during the colder season?

    Peyton: Yes, autumn up here is breathtaking. If you close your eyes and invision perfect fall scenery, there are at least ten places nearby that would probably fit the bill. The winters can get pretty treacherous, although last winter was extremely mild with only a few remarkable snow falls. I had to go to the gym maybe twenty times the entire winter to avoid running on icy roads, but otherwise I was able to get outdoors. Snow and cold do not bother me, but the ice can be nerve-wracking. I took a hard spill on some black ice last December, and that was a wake-up call for sure. While many hate running on the treadmill or around an indoor track, I have never really minded it when conditions call for such measures. Better an hour indoors than a week off from running just because you were stubborn. I usually drop my volume a bit and focus more on comprehensive strength and power in the winter anyway, so it doesn't interfere much with my annual flow of training. What impact do you think running form and shoe design/function have in running and racing?

    Peyton: Proper biomechanics, a sound bodily foundation, and great core strength are key factors to injury prevention, but I ardently believe these things can be exponentially improved by wearing shoes that more closely simulate natural barefoot mechanics. The body is an extremely complex and intelligent machine; it intrinsically knows what it "should" do, but we often force it to do what we believe is correct due to outside pressures (like wearing overly structured footwear, using orthotics to correct organic issues, and fearing less protection from the ground). Getting back in touch with the natural motion of our feet, proper running form, and muscular engagement is key to running healthy, efficiently, and faster than you ever have before. SKORA is doing a great job in creating a no-gimmicks, no frills product line that is practical for both the recreational runner and competitive athlete alike. The motto "Run Real" is extremely appropriate for these shoes, as runners will immediately notice upon trying a pair. They will help you revitalize your running body back to a holistic state of balance and strength. You also coach a number of athletes, can you tell us a bit about your coaching methods and how athletes can contact you if they are interesting in your services?

    Peyton: Yes, I am head coach of a growing group of competitive runners in the Southeast called Pulse Racing Team. My goal is to expand our membership to nation-wide status over the coming years so that we may compete at large club events, relay-style races, and as individuals at various road and trail races. I take a very individualized approach to the runners I coach, so that even athletes training for the same race distance would receive very different plans based on their particular strengths, available training time, and anticipated goals. Most of my coaching is done online or over the phone, but I strive to give each of my runners undivided attention in proper turn.

    My methods are largely derived from Italian coach Renato Canova, where training elements are all built in a progressive way that begin to more closely simulate race conditions as a goal competition approaches. In this methodology, each type of workout evolves over the course of a cycle so that nothing is ever subtracted from the overall scheme. Why remove the very training elements that made you strong and race-fit in the first place? This includes global volume, aerobic/muscular support, and specific sessions alike. Prioritization, not periodization, is pivotal to success, I believe. I also try to coach with a high degree of flexibility, adaptability, and creativity so that each runner can best utilize their particular training environment to produce results. It is often a comprehensive, pains-taking approach, but it has worked well for me and my athletes so far.

    Interested runners can go to to learn more about our group. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Peyton! It is very interesting getting different perspectives from different types of athletes.

    Peyton: Thank you! I would like to also say thank you to SKORA Running for providing me shoes to test in recent months. It has been a great pleasure reconnecting my body and mind to the pure act of running. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to Running Real into the future.

  • Shoe Type, Footstrike Pattern, and Injury Incidence

    Relationships Among Self-reported Shoe Type, Footstrike Pattern, and Injury Incidence is the title of a recent study from Goss and Gross in the Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy at the US Army-Baylor University.

    2,509 runners completed an anonymous online survey. These people were asked about their choices in footwear, their footstrike, past injuries, and their running habits. 1,605 of the runners were excluded from the questionnaire due to incomplete data or if they very recently have modified their footstrike.

    Interesting results followed. Athletes that have habitually trained in traditional shoes reported injury rates 3.41 times more often than experienced minimalist runners. Only 13.7% of the minimal or barefoot athletes reported injuries (the study abstract did not give a time frame) and 46.7% of the shod runners reported at least one injury.

    While this study shows what many of us already know, it also left a great deal out. The abstract does not specify what exactly the parameters were for an injury, or specific differences between traditional and minimal shoes. And did the barefoot runners have to do all of their mileage without shoes, or just a majority? The authors mentioned that barefoot and minimalist runners were more likely to be midfoot strikers, how did midfoot strikers in traditional shoes compare to heel strikers in traditional shoes? The study was unable to go into great detail about stride specifics as well. It would have been very interesting to see how different stride patters among traditionally shod, minimalist, and barefoot runners compared with each other.

    What are your thoughts? If you have been running in lightweight footwear, have you noticed a change in your injury occurrence?

    Run Real

  • joy and love of running is tangible

    It means a great deal to us here at SKORA for someone to take time out of their day and let us know how much they enjoy our shoes. It really makes us feel like we are doing something special here!

    Greetings! I just wanted to take a second to thank you for your shoes. I have been running in Vibrams and other minimal/barefoot shoes for about a year now. I run about 50 miles a week and have just completed my second marathon this year. I had the chance to try on a pair of SKORA Forms during a visit to Zombie Runner in Palo Alto, and it was love at first step. I purchased them as casual shoes, but I had a feeling that they might be the perfect training/racing shoe for my first 50 miler in January. When I arrived home I immediately ordered a pair of yellow SKORA Base. I tried them out for the first time today on a hilly 8.5 mile run. I couldn't be happier! They are the perfect combination of a "barely there" sock-like fit with outstanding ground feel and enough protection that I feel like I could easily go 50 or more in them. If I had the resources I would gladly invest $1,000,000 in your company, not because I thought I would make a lot of money but to help insure that you continue to produce and develop shoes of this quality for decades to come. All I can do is continue to purchase your shoes and spread the word. The joy and love of running is tangible in the feel and design of the shoes. No shoe is a "magic bullet" that is right for everyone, but SKORA seems to have hit upon something that is ideal for this runner. Thank you again.

  • Form Review - Alex Bridgeforth

    The featured review this week comes from Alex Bridgeforth. He is very active on his blog and twitter and you will be better of following both, he passes on a great deal of solid information. You will quickly see he is a very proud man. Alex supports and strongly believes in his Christian faith, being a soldier, and being a runner. He also just did his first 50k, and is now an ultra marathoner :)

    Check out his review at Addicted to Running

    There has not been anything negative about the shoe yet, besides the fact that they are like a new car that you don’t want to scratch. I have scuffed them a bit at Crossfit, I will eventually get over the “Don’t get the new shoes dirty” feeling.

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