Monthly Archives: August 2013

  • Real Food Supplementation

    Here at SKORA, our motto is Run Real.

    We also believe in being real to our customers and followers as well as being real in our shoe design.

    At the same time, we also believe in eating real.

    Below is a how to guide on Real Food Supplementation

    In early 2012 there was a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina seeking to determine if bananas could be an adequate substitute to a carbohydrate beverage during a 75km cycling time trial. The researchers noted that even though the banana and beverage have different carbohydrate profiles, the “cycling performance and metabolic outcomes were similar”.

    Lets look at some runners. Prior to a 10km self-paced treadmill time trial at the Texas Christian University at Fort Worth, athletes consumed, among various test solutions, bananas with water. They also found “no differences in the metabolic responses during exercise between the different CHO types, nor did the type of CHO influence running performance.”

    A third study compared the use of sun-dried raisins to sport jelly beans. Among the 10 cyclists in the 10k time trial, the researchers found no significant differences between time, power, resting blood glucose, or perceived exertion. It was concluded that sun-dried raisins “are a natural, pleasant, cost-effective CHO alternative to commercial Sport Jelly Beans that can be used during moderate- to high-intensity endurance exercise.”

    If you're not quite ready to go bananas, there are a number of brands who produce wonderful whole food based products that are preservative free, lacking of artificial sweeteners, and not something made only in laboratories by people in white coats.

    Pre-Workout

    Athletes generally prefer a light meal before strenuous activity. Bearded Brother Bars are a delicious 300 calories of organic vegan goodness. We'd recommend the Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, it is primarily carbohydrate from organic raw fruit, with some fat and a bit of protein.

    Intra-Workout

    Now while on the run, Island Boost is an awesome choice for those looking to use a product that has no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Island Boost uses straight glucose and fructose as sources of calories, the electrolytes come from coconut water, and it has flavors of oranges, passion fruit, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. The beauty of Island Boost is that its consistency is fluid, not gel. This allows the user to take it without having to wash down a bunch of sticky gel.

    Post-Workout

    Now moving on to after the workout. The above EPIC Bar is a 100% grass fed protein raised with sustainability and animal welfare in mind, from Austin Texas.

    Chocolate milk has been gaining popularity in the last few years as a recovery drink. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that the beverage is an effective recovery aid. Chocolate milk is also inexpensive compared to many recovery drinks, as well as containing an ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to replenish glycogen, repair muscles, and replace fluid loss. As with the bananas, raisins, chocolate milk, and all the items mentioned in this article, it also packs a slew of nutrients and antioxidants not found in your conventional sports supplement.

    Whey protein & sugar separation

    There are other options available for more natural sources of “supplementation” than the whey protein being separated from the sugar in the above photo.

    Chia Seeds, like chocolate milk, have increased in popularity as of late. They gelatinize and thicken when mixed with water, making their use in shakes quite easy. These seeds contain a complete amino acid profile, multiple vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

    Spirullina and Chlorella are another option for a natural and extra ordinary nutrient source. Spanish explorers noted that the Aztec would collect algae in nets, form it into patties, and allow them to air dry. Energy and Recovery Bits are very similar, being hydroponically grown in freshwater tanks, air dried, and pressed into small tablets. These tablets are also a complete protein source and of course contain many other vitamins and nutrients. If you're taking a daily vitamin, these would be a great real food alternative. Use the code RUNREAL at checkout to receive 30% off an order at either of the algae websites!

    Danger, Danger Will Robinson!

    Along with the benefits of consuming whole food sources of nutrients, there is also the danger of unregulation in the sports supplement field. In 2001, the International Olympic Committee determined that 14% of the 634 over-the-counter supplements they tested contained substances that were not on the label at levels but could lead to a positive test of a banned substance.

    Unfortunately, such positive tests do happen as well. Elite swimmer Kicker Vencill tested positive for three steroid precursors in 2003. The following year, he won a lawsuit against the supplement manufacturer after claiming the multivitamins he took caused him to test positive.

    There is also a safety issue. Recently the world's largest dairy exporter has issued a recall that involved 38 metric tons of whey, because it possibly contained a bacteria that could cause botulism. 3Fuel is a great option for a protein powder, as its protein is grass fed sourced and fat is from coconut milk. Use code 3FHUNT from Run ATX for a 10% discount!

    Have you used any of the "whole food supplements" above or any others? You are welcome to share your thoughts and experiences below!"

  • What your mile PB means for your marathon

    Many would assume that the top speed you can run a mile at has little impact on how fast you can run a marathon or even an ultra marathon.

    However your top end speed does indeed affect how comfortable you are at longer distances.

    The 100m and 200m events are considered maximal efforts. That is about as long as a person can sustain their highest power output and speed. Anything longer is considered sub-maximal.

    In a 1500m event you may average 60% of your maximal stride power of a 100m race.

    In a marathon, that number is closer to 40%.

    Lets say at maximum speed you can run 10 meters per second, but you improve that to 9 meters per second. A 10% improvement. That speed increase will also benefit every run from the 200m to the 100 mile event.

    Max King has won the JFK 50 miler, and the 100k Ultra Race of Champions, but also has a 2:14 marathon PB, an 8:30 3000 meter Steeplechase, and a 4:30 mile. In an interview for Trail Runner Magazine, he said, "Because I've got a top-end speed of a 4:30 mile means that a six-minute pace is much more comfortable."

    The same applies to you and whatever your goals may be. Perhaps during the winter, take a few months and work on your mile time. Lets say you drop your mile personal best to 7:00. That will make an 8:00 pace feel quite comfortable for your 5k/10k races!

    You may also like: Why and How Cadence is Important / All about Strides / Your 5 New Favorite Speed Workouts

    Subscribe to our newsletter & be entered into our monthly free shoe drawing!

  • Running in the Desert

    Grenade posted some of these photos on our Facebook page, and we asked him if he would mind writing an article about his experiences with our shoes, especially in temps above 100 degrees!

    Not too long ago, I decided to switch to more minimal running shoes.

    Naturally I had my concerns, as I do not run on only one type of surface (I mostly run trails). I have the fortunate pleasure of traveling due to my work. So when I went on the hunt for my first pair of minimalist running shoes, I brought with me an enormous amount of questions.

    I ended up at a small minimalist running store in Shepherdstown, WV talking to Paul Koczera; Assistant Manager at Two Rivers Treads. Paul spent about an hour with me explaining minimalist running and introducing me to several minimalist shoe options. Many years ago my career was in retail management. I understand quality when I see it. Most of the shoes Paul introduced me to just felt, well, cheap. The shoes didn’t feel of quality materials and felt poorly constructed when I would manipulate them in my hands. I’m not saying that these major name brands were no good, but with the price tag attached I just expected more.

    Paul finally brought out a pair of SKORAs (which at first I assumed was some type of European shoes). The box seemed fancy so that was a good sign. When he handed me the SKORA Forms I could tell right away that the quality was top notch. I was concerned about them being leather, but Paul had the sales pitch down! He then told me the price; $185. He was surprised that I didn’t seem shocked. I must admit though, I was adamant about paying that much for a pair of new shoes. He told me to put them on and just go walk, not run, around town for a while. As soon as I put them on and walked out the door I knew that I was going to purchase them. I walked for about a mile before I came back.

    The first trail I hit later that day was the C&O Canal. It’s a flat dirt trail with a mixture of rocks and gravel. The new shoes did great but that night my calves were on fire from my first minimal experience. The next day I slowed it down a bit and stayed on the asphalt roads for a couple days to retrain my running stride and cadence. I went back and ran the C&O Canal but this time headed toward the Appalachian Trail (AT). After crossing the Shenandoah River Bridge, I hit the trail that leads to the AT. This trail climbs 1100ft in less than a mile. It is rocky and nasty with multiple switchbacks. Besides being wiped out by the time I hit the AT, I was extremely pleased with the comfort and grip of the SKORA shoes. The AT at this location is mostly dirt, grass and dead leaves. I ran it for a few miles before heading back to the trail that brought me up there. On the descent I was just as pleased with the SKORAs as I was on the climb. I did make several stops along this run to check the soles of the SKORASs. I was happy to see that there was almost no sign of running on rocks. No wearing or gouges visible at all.

    I then took my Skoras with me to Belize. I stayed in Belmopan for a month. If you’re not familiar, Belmopan is located in the rain forest near Mexico and Guatemala. It rained 21 out of the 30 days I was there. I hit the roads (which there are all mostly dirt) and the jungle trails with or without rain! Once again the shoes did great. They were even dry by the next day! I wore them to run repeats on the steps of the Mayan temples in Xunantunich. These steps were narrow, wet, moldy and slick. The Skoras gripped with ease.

    After coming back to the states, I took them on several more trips to run. Tucson, AZ, Saint Augustine, FL, Devils Den, AR and Oklahoma City, OK…just to name a few. But the latest, and most challenging place, was yet to come; Big Bend National Park, TX.

    I’m actually writing this piece for my experiences with the Skora Forms in Big Bend. Some people say I’m long winded, and yeah…maybe I am. So let me quit beating around the bush and talk about the shoes from Portland, OR and how they performed deep in the Chihuahuan Desert.

    My fiancé and I decided to go to Big Bend for vacation before it got too hot, so we left in mid-May. That was a good call since the highs were only 112 degrees in the shade instead of 125! We frequent Big Bend so the heat is no shocker. During the day the rocks on the ground get so hot that if you pick them up they can burn you. Once I had a cousin go outside barefooted and received 1st and 2nd degree burns on the bottoms of her feet. You have to leave your car windows open a bit when parked so your windshield doesn’t crack. When the sun’s out, the desert is absolutely quiet. All birds, deer, javelina and even fish in the Rio Grande hide.

    The only thing brave enough, or built tough enough, to make its appearance are the spiny lizards. And then there’s us…two crazy trail runners determined to get our fix. On day one we hit a short trail to try and get ourselves a little acclimated for the rest of the week.

    As you real runners know, the soles are high quality but have that soft feeling to them. I wasn’t sure how they would hold up to the scorching ground heat that can easily reach well over 130+ degrees at this time of year. We took off on our first trek. The heat was, well, horrible! But we kept going. I was expecting to start feeling the heat on my feet from the ground, but after a mile I didn’t feel anything. All I felt was the top of my head burning. After mile two, there was still no discomfort from the desert ground. No more heat was coming through compared to any other shoe I’ve run in there. I did have to get used to the feel of the ground more. After all, this was my first time running minimalist in the desert.

    After that short 5 mile run I was very curious to pull of the new shoes and see how they held up. I couldn’t believe that there was absolutely no heat damage or rock cuts on the soles! We then hit up Mule Ears Trail. This is a 6 mile long trail that offers absolutely no shade. The ground offered by this trail was brutal. It is extremely rocky with cactus everywhere. Most of the rocks weren’t forgiving. They were jagged chunks and the heat coming off of them was unreal.

    By this point I was on a mission to see if I could damage my Forms. I felt more comfortable and confident in their ability. I wanted to push them now so I could stand at the starting line of my next trail race here in Texas and know they will perform without question. I not only wanted to see if they could handle the heat, but also the rocky terrain. The SKORAs performed superbly. The soles were virtually unmarred and the adhesive maintained its integrity. This is impressive considering that I brought with me another pair of minimalist trail shoes that are designed for the rockier type mountain trails. I decided to use these major named brand shoes for one of our days there. After running and hiking that day in the heat, I noticed that the soles had started coming apart. The adhesive couldn’t handle the heat! And these shoes only had maybe 60 miles on them, so they were still new.

    So, if you have any concerns or doubts if the Skora Forms can handle the extreme heat or a rocky terrain, don’t be. They performed above and beyond my expectations in the Chihuahuan Desert under the most adverse of conditions. After a week running the desert, all I had to do was dust them off so they wouldn’t be so dirty looking in the gym today!

    Thank you SKORA. I look forward to your future products!

    Grenade Fiedler

  • What to do before a race

    "Did I do enough training?"

    "Am I forgetting anything for race day?"

    "Have I missed anything in my training?"

    The week before a big race can be a bit stressful.

    Here is a short guide on how to approach the big event.

    Starting with the week of

    There is nothing you can realistically do the week of a race to improve upon your fitness, but there are many ways you can jeopardize your performance. Nothing new and no stressing about "what ifs".

    Here, Ben Greenfield tells you some things he is doing leading up to the 2013 Ironman Canada.

    We also wrote about changing your mentality about a taper. Instead of it being a "lazy" time where your training is reduced, think of it as a time to sharpen and peak!

    As for the day before an event

    Prior to many events there is often a pre-race pasta dinner and an expo for larger races. It is in the best interest of the athlete to avoid over-eating the last few days before an event. As Ben mentioned above, he likes to do a lot of blended or juiced options to keep food in his body light and minimal. Also be careful to not spend a huge amount of time walking around at the pre-race expo or sampling a bunch of new treats. Your body is likely not used to 3-4 hours of standing and walking around to different booths and bite sized variations of 15 different energy bars.

    Now, on the big day

    There are many quick ways to get some free speed on race day.

    Also important, but often neglected, is the warm up.

    This is good practice to do before any race or key workout.

    1.  Start with Jay Johnson's Lunge Matrix routine in the video above.
    2. Next, go into a very easy jogging warm up. Anywhere from 1-3 miles, depending on what you're comfortable with. You can add in some strides as well to this jogging.
    3. Now either in the middle of the jog or afterwards, go through some warm-up drills.

    At a very large event where you have to stand in a corral, the lunge matrix and some of these drills can be performed in place without taking up too much space or kicking a fellow runner. It's very important to keep your body warmed up to lesson the shock of that race start!

    If you watch closely, you'll often see elites over dressed before an event during their warm up. This is simply to keep the body and muscles warmed up and ready to go. They're always always moving around. Even at a track race, you'll see the athletes jumping or occasionally dancing in their lane, before they take their marks. If the event is cold at the start, you can buy some clothes at thrift shop and leave them in your corral, where the race can collect them and re-donate the items.

    Finally, the gun sounds and you're off!

    You may also like: How Not to Carbohydrate Load 

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