Monthly Archives: January 2013

  • Who can wear minimalist shoes?

    Who can wear minimalist barefoot shoes

    There are a variety of reasons people do not wear minimalist shoes. One may be the person is simply not sure if they can comfortably do so. Often, people feel the cushioning of thicker footwear may be protective and beneficial. While the best advice is to do what feels most comfortable to you, we wanted to share some stories of moving from traditional shoes to minimalist options. We posed this question to a few of our athletes. They were asked about their experience with lightweight footwear.

    skorarunning.com: How has the use of lightweight, zero drop, low profile, and flexible shoes has benefited your health, fitness, and body?

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    Thinking back to when I ran in traditional thick soled shoes, it was no wonder I was injured so often. Shoes do not automatically prevent or cure injury, however poor running form more certainly does. Wearing shoes that are lightweight, thin, and flexible has allowed me to become more aware of my movements when running, lifting weights, and even walking. From very early on in my running "career", I have a very distinct memory of running on the track and hearing how loudly my feet were hitting the ground. I feel the thick and cushioned shoes caused me to actually land with more force. Now that I am in minimal shoes, I can easily recognize what feels better for my body. Landing with bent knees, close to under my center of mass, and landing with an almost flat foot, I found the old cushioning was very unnecessary.

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    I was an out of shape, washed up high school athlete who decided that this is not how I want to live the rest of my life. I looked up at a banner hanging in the field house and I instantly called my family and said that I was going to run the Earth Day Half Marathon. From there I have grown a ton in my passion for running. I started that half marathon in a posted, stability shoe and managed to qualify for Boston but I knew that it didn't feel right for me. I started doing more and more running in racing flats because I simply loved the feel, I am normally a mid-foot strike and so the turnover always felt better but still not right. I was still searching and testing out different shoes, the cost was definitely adding up from all the different options. Finally I came across SKORA and once I got my foot into the shoe I instantly knew that it was a fit. I am a passionate trail runner and the Base was so nice for off road running because it always keeps me honest on the trail. I mean that in the downhill the secure glove-like fit let my foot freely move where it needed to without having issues. On the uphill the shoe flows with my stride, there is no hitch or dragging weight.

    The question that I get most often at my races relates to the cushioning, or lack thereof. When I am heading into a rocky and nasty trail I will always take my SKORA shoes. This relates to the honest, real, running that I was referring to earlier. I can only go as fast as my body and more importantly my feet want me to go. There is always a smooth surface or a route that wont kill the feet but you have to evolve as a runner and find it. I have run more miles and races this year than I have in my entire life, I even raced a 100K and a 50 mile back to back weekends and finished respectable in both events and I relate that and the lack of injury to the fact that I have done the work and strengthened my lower legs. If I had to pick one shoe to run in the rest of my life it would be a minimalist shoe simply because that is the way the body is meant to run, natural and real.

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    How has using minimalist running shoes helped me recover from Rheumatoid Arthritis? One of the things that I love about using minimal running shoes is that my feet get to use every muscle in the foot from the large muscles to the small muscles that you never knew existed. This has really helped me with my drive to get stronger from a really bad Rheumatoid Arthritis attack that I had a couple of years ago. A friend actually recommended I try minimal shoes because they had a tendency to make the users feet stronger. I thought that was what all shoes did but apparently not. The typical running shoes provides so much support that you never get to use or strengthen the smallest muscles in your feet.

    In my experience, I have found that the minimal shoes worked best for what I was trying to accomplish. At first it hurt to wear it because you are now using muscles that you have never used the way they were supposed to be used before. When I made my first minimal purchase I was told not to wear it all day. Only wear it for an hour for the first week. This was to give the small muscles time to get adapted to being used, which in turn would cause me to not be as sore. Well I was so excited that I did the opposite and spent the whole day in them. Boy did I pay the price! My feet were really sore and I almost gave up on the idea but then again I was warned about this and just did not listen. Once the soreness went away I tried again but did it the correct way. I also spent some time stretching before and after long walks or runs. As all the muscles in my feet got stronger and stronger I was hooked. I was in heaven and there was no going back to conventional running shoes for me.

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    In college I was often injured and missed my fair share of races and workouts. I trained in heavier, traditional trainers with high heel-to-toe drop and plastic arch plates disguised at "technology". After graduating and beginning my post-collegiate running career, I gradually reduced my daily training footwear at the suggestion and with the guidance of my coach. I transitioned to the Brooks Green Silence and the Puma Faas 300, and now I am running often in SKORA shoes which are the most minimal I have worn. Besides an Achilles injury due to an extreme uphill mountain race (muscular overload), I have been healthy for two full years and have PR’d across the board. After building into comfortable training in minimal footwear, I now use shoes like the SKORA Form to build strength in my feet and lower legs which increases injury resistance.

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    I never knew I loved running until I discovered barefoot-style shoes. From my own two feet to Vibrams to Luna Sandals and now SKORA, my search for finding "just enough" shoe has ended. This decision wasn't because I wanted to save money, nor was I looking to rebel against what's popular; I simply wanted to run as much as possible without being injured.

    Injuries are key here, with over 70% of regular runners reporting injuries (likely from overuse or poor form) every year, I've found that less cushioning allows my body to better adjust how, when, and where I step in order to prevent injuries before they happen. In thicker shoes, my body couldn't feel every step, so I had no idea what I was doing was wrong. By the time I hurt the next day, it was too late to make proper adjustments. I stretched and weight lifted as much as I could, but no cure could prevent my pain.

    Running is no longer a chore for this 5'11", 200 lb body, it's my meditation. As with any proper meditation, the less barriers, filters, and cushion we have to separate ourselves from the world, the better we can proactively and reactively adjust our actions to best live in it.

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    Throughout my high school career, I would get injured almost every season, which stemmed from a variety of issues. My sophomore and junior year I would run in thick, heavy, chunky trail shoes. I was new to running and those were what I was told were "proper running shoes". Then while rehabbing after yet another injury at the beginning of my senior year, I noticed one of my elite marathon friends only ran in racing flats. She liked them because it strengthened her calf muscles and were so light it allowed for faster running. I was intrigued, and as I was basically starting back from the ground up, I purchased a pair of minimalist shoes. To ease into minimalist running, I wore the minimalist shoes only on some days and a chunkier, thicker shoe on the others. It usually followed a pattern: speed work or shorter days I wore the minimalist shoes, while longer and more challenging days I wore the chunky shoes (thinking they "protected my feet from the trail"). I came back from my injury very strong and fit. Wearing the minimalist shoes made me not only a better, stronger runner, but a happier one. I enjoyed nimbly dancing around roots and rocks and flying up the hills. It was like a choreographed dance or a game, which made running a joy for me instead of a daily chore. I got back to how running should be. Now a year and a half later, I only wear minimalist shoes and am still getting stronger and faster. Whether its a long run or a track workout, I will wear my SKORA shoes!

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    Who can wear minimalist shoes? Just about anyone!

    RunReal.

    You may also like: Transitioning to Real Running 5 Tenets of Minimalist Footwear The Specifics of "RUN REAL"

  • Introducing Polar Beat

    Polar Beat Introducing Polar Beat. The smartphone app that shows that you're serious about training! If you use a Polar Heart Rate Monitor, you will love Polar’s smartphone app, Polar Beat. It puts the functions of your Heart Rate Monitor on your iPhone 4s or 5.

    Polar Beat All you will need is: The Polar H7 transmitter iPhone 4s or 5 Why the iPhone 4s & 5? Because bluetooth 4 is required.

    Polar Beat Review In the Polar Beat app, you will be able to see the history of your training sessions as well as your personal best training sessions.

    Polar Beat Weekly Summary

    In weekly summary, you will find current and previous training in the bigger picture.

    It shows you: How many training sessions you had for the week How much total time you spent training Distance of your Running or Cycling How many total calories you burned for the week What percentage of body fat your burned How long you stayed in each sport zone

    Polar Beat

    Target lets you set up how you will train for that workout session. There are 7 preset target training sessions to use. Once you have reached any of the target training sessions that you set, an audio alert will let you know that you have accomplished your goal! It won’t stop recording your information if you go beyond, but it will alert you to your accomplishment.

    Polar Beat Polar Beat

    You will even be able to set your sport that you are training in for the day. This will tell the app what information you need recorded. If you are playing tennis, squash, badminton, strength training, you won’t need the GPS, so using these settings will keep the GPS from activating on your iPhone. In case the sport you are training in is not listed and you still don’t need the GPS, you can choose Other Indoor (No GPS). If you are cycling, running or training in any other sport that uses the GPS, Polar Beat will do the mapping for your training session as well as your heart rate graph that will show your heart rate for every leg of the run or ride.

    Polar Beat

    If you are unsure on how to get started training with Polar Beat, Polar even has a video on how to get started and using the features of of Heart Rate Training.

    Don’t forget to sign-up for Polar Personal Trainer. That is where you will be able to sync and view all of your training sessions on any Mac or PC.

    Summary

    Pros I love the Polar Beat app. I use it with my iPhone5 with no issues in regards to connection to my transmitter or GPS. It keeps a wealth of training information on your arm, belt or handlebars. I wear straps when doing heavy lifting so I prefer this as opposed to my Polar watch. I can wear it on my arm band without worrying about it getting damaged. I always have my iPhone with me, so even if I’m traveling and forget my transmitter and strap, I can still go for a run and have all of my GPS information recorded. All of the information is transferred over the air to my Polar Personal Trainer account.

    Cons You have to purchase the smart coaching part of the app for $4. It’s an in-app purchase. I did end up downloading it because I like all of my information when I train, I found it useful and worth the in-app purchase price of $4.

    Here is a quick video that will explain the smart coaching: energy pointer feature.

    Here is a quick video that will explain the smart coaching: training benefit feature.

    Do you use a smartphone based GPS? What features do you enjoy about it the most?

    Erick is a SKORA Ambassador and athlete with Rheumatoid Arthritis. You can see his inspirational story and progress here.

  • Featured Website: Optimal Run Guide

    Optimal Run

    The Natural Running Store brought together 14 contributors to create The Optimal Run Guide. This is a conglomeration of advice from some of the leading experts in endurance training, technique, and practice.

    In the five part #OptimalRun Guide, these accomplished coaches and athletes strive to answer the question, "What would it take to create the optimal running experience?"

    Many of these running mentors even have SKORA running shoes in their rotation! It would be well worth your time to check out the different parts in the series, as well as the websites of the writers.

    #RunReal

  • 5 Tenets of Minimalist Footwear

    5 Tenets of Natural Footwear

    While the hard science indicating minimalist or natural running footwear prevents injuries or improves biomechanics may be lacking, my experience as an athlete and coach clearly shows otherwise. Read More

  • Rise & Shine Natural Wake-Up Light

    Verilux Rise and Shine Wake Up Light Review As athletes, many of us wake up quite early in the morning to fit our training and workouts in around family, school, careers, etc. Just on twitter this morning, a runner SKORA follows, tweeted "Went into work for a couple hours, got a quick workout in, came home and everyone is still sleeping."

    Even if you are not waking up at 4am to run, but waking at 7am for work or school, there is a type of "alarm" that you should very seriously look at. Recently Verilux provided SKORA's resident ultra marathoner with their Rise & Shine Natural Wake-Up Light, for use and review.

    Here is how the R&S works, in a nutshell. If you set the wake up time for 6am, the R&S's lamp kicks in at 5:45am and very gradually brightens to a level that you set. There are also optional wake up sounds, such as flowing water or chirping birds, that can be set and will also gradually become louder as the waking time approaches.

    For a couple months now, I have simply used the gradually brightening light without the chirping birds, and have not once woken up late. It is quite fantastic! Instead of being violently woken by the most annoying sound known to man, I simply...wake up. This is almost as good as sleeping in and waking up naturally. It feels so great to just, wake up!

    Verilux & 712 mile SKORA Base

    This wake up alarm is very easy to use and the instructions provides are well written and simple. It just takes a few seconds to program the wake up time. One of the best features is that a sleep timer can easily be set on the lamp. So you can program it to gradually dim over a period of 5 to 60 minutes!

    I would not hesitate to recommend the Rise & Shine to any person, athlete or not, who wants a more pleasant method of arising from sleep in the morning. In my experience, the wake up light has definitely been a pleasant experience and I will continue to use it instead of a conventional alarm clock.

    The Rise & Shine Wake-Up Light can be purchased at Verilux.com

  • Confessions of an overpronator

    Confessions of an Over-Pronator

    For years I was told something was wrong with me.

    Not quite right.

    Not ideal.

    I visited experts and they made recommendations. I would walk around their office, barefoot, and they would suggest different types of support and fixes. Maybe go into a running store and jump on a treadmill to be video recorded. They would play it back to me in slow motion. Zoom in on my lower legs and show me my faults. Read More

  • Reflection on a Record Attempt

    David Reese world record treadmill attempt On December 14th, David Reese made a world record attempt out of a charitable endeavour. His fell short of the record, but running for 24 hours on a treadmill is still quite a feat! We gave him a few weeks to recover before taking a bit of his time for a quick Q&A about his thoughts after the event!

    skorarunning.com: First off, congrats on such an endeavor!

    So, briefly explain to the readers what your goals were and why you were doing this.

    DR: Initially my objective was to just last 24 hours on a treadmill. Then I thought about how I could keep this from being such a selfish endeavor and I thought of this man, Dr. Paul Farmer, and all of the very difficult things he does for the good of others. I decided to turn the run into a fundraiser for his foundation, Partners in Health.

    David Reese runs for 24 hours on a treadmill

    skorarunning.com: Did other people in the gym have any idea what was taking place?

    DR: I happen to work as a personal trainer at the gym where this took place so my co-workers made signs and actually blocked off an entire row of treadmills just in case something went wrong with the one I was on (which it did). So from the signs and the orange cones I think it became quite obvious. Everyone was very curious about what was transpiring.

    David Reese's nutrition for the 24 hour world record attempt

    skorarunning.com: Personally, I feel what most impresses me is that there had to have been a moment when you knew your goal of approaching or besting the world record would not come about, yet you kept on moving forward for the full 24 hours! Was there a point when this realization took place, and can you describe what was going through your head?

    DR: I actually had a decent 50 miles in the books (average 8:49 pace) when I started feeling the effects of the constant pounding on the same bones/muscles/joints. This appeared in the form of a stress fracture on my left tibia. Luckily I have a friend in my contacts who is an orthopedic surgeon, so as I was running I called him to see what I was dealing with. We weighed out the consequences and he coached me through a taping method that took the pain down a notch. Unfortunately due to the level of pain I was still feeling, my pace suffered. I then realized my world record goal was no longer attainable. This is when I had to dig deep for true motivation. I thought about calling it right then and going home. With the help of my wife I realized that this had grown into something much bigger than my own ambition. People had been inspired by my attempt, they were counting on me. The people who will benefit from the money raised were cheering for me in my head. Little Haitian faces scrolled through my mind and that was enough. I was finishing this thing no matter the price.

    skorarunning.com: You had a very specific plan for the 24 hours or running, in regards to nutrition etc. Did you stray from it at all? Looking back, what would you do differently?

    DR: I did indeed have a very specific plan. I did well adhering to it for the first 10 hours or so but I was getting really sick of what I had planned for and was having a hard time getting enough water down. At about 9:00 pm my brother showed up to run through the night with me and ordered pizza, brought top o ramen and some electrolyte drink mix and I thought out my plan and ate what sounded good and monitored only quantity of calories not type of calories. The next time I attend this I will have a lot more variety of foods and drink mixes.

    Believe it or not, it was easy to get bored.

    skorarunning.com: What was the biggest factor that kept you going throughout the night? Was anyone else around to keep you company?

    DR: The main factor was my brother John. We have done other endurance feats together and he knows me and what I need. He was there for me. He probably put in around 50 miles or so. I also had various co-workers there through the night cheering me on and warming up my top o ramen for me :).

    David Reese wearing SKORA shoes during his recent world record attempt

    skorarunning.com: What tools did you use to keep yourself busy?

    DR: I had an iPad with Netflix. I watched about 10 episodes of the tv series 24 and the movie "Warrior".

    skorarunning.com: What did you do for the rest of the day after you finished, and how has the week been since?

    DR: After the event I went home and hung out with my family. They were kind enough to give me a 10 min nap. It's tough when you have an infant and toddler who love your attention. If it were not for my stress fracture I would have been out running on Monday. Luckily I am able to recover pretty quickly. I will just need to bike and swim (things I don't do a lot of) to keep up my fitness as my leg heals. I still plan on racing hard at the Orcas Island 50k.

    David Reese during his world record attempt wearing SKORA shoes!

    skorarunning.com: Is there one moment during the event that really sticks out in your mind?

    DR: The last hour was very memorable. The gym opened back up to the general public so people started to filter in to see me finish. My family arrived and were extremely supportive and cheered me to a strong finish. I kept increasing the speed every few minutes so that by the end I was at a 12 mph pace. The adrenaline and atmosphere masked the pain and made for an incredible finish. Then the pain returned quickly.

    skorarunning.com: Thanks David! It was an honor to learn that you were using SKORA for your event, and we were glad to donate the $250 to Partners in Health, on your behalf!

    Run Real!

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