The beginning (Part I)

2001 | 10K Race

I was never the fastest runner. Quite honestly, I rather disliked running all throughout school. It wasn't until my early twenties that I discovered the pure joy of the sport. Granted, I initially got into running for the sole purpose of losing a few pounds. Within a few short months I became faster, trimmer and more confident. I was a runner.

My 2001-2002 running season was improving thanks to running 100+ kms (62+ miles) per week and several 5k and 10k races under my (hydration) belt.  My first 1/2 marathon, Calgary's Harvest Half, placed me in a respectable 38th place. I was on track to run a strong marathon mid 2002.

And then, disaster struck.

Seemingly overnight a severe iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) injury made running impossible.  For the next 8 months I tried everything.  Cross training, chiropractic adjustments, expensive orthotics, deep tissue massage and stretching.  No luck.  The pain was now a constant.  While driving or sitting at work.  I began to stand in front my computer, that helped a little.

It turned out a weak hip abductor muscle was the cause. But what caused the weak muscle(s). I was in the fittest shape of my life. How could this be? I was puzzled.  I did everything that a runner '"should do".  I was fitted for the right running shoes to "correct" my gait, replaced them regularly as instructed and kept my running schedule busy.

But now, after nearly a year of little running - I lost my endurance - and gained anger and confusion.  One day my frustration peaked when a 10 minute light run caused me to hobble home with a throbbing burning on side of me knee.  I jumped online and started researching. I read everything I could find about natural and injury-free running.  And like many fellow barefooters, it was Ken Bob Saxton's barefoot running site that opened my eyes.

Barefoot running.

Yes, it made perfect sense.  Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to walk and run.   But modern running shoes have broken this is a short 40 years.

In the early 1970’s Bill Bowerman, a track coach turned entrepreneur, created a cushioned running shoe that allowed runners to take longer strides.    By cushioning the heels and tilting the runner slightly forward, the gait of the average runner was changed to a heel strike stride rather than the more natural mid or forefoot strike.  Mr. Bowerman, and his business partner, Phil Knight, marketed the new shoes under the brand name of Nike.  And so began the industry we recognize today. An industry plagued by injuries that affect 3 in 4 recreational runners.

Coming in Part II : My first barefoot run...

13 thoughts on “The beginning (Part I)”


  • [...] and spending more time running barefoot (unshod). You can read about David’s story here: Part 1, Part 2. Skora’s philosophy is to create footwear that encourages bio-mechanically correct [...]

  • ::* I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ';`

  • By knarfster

    Any News on a launch date? Seems "late 2011" is awfully late, you may have been passed-by by the big boys (especially Merrell, and maybe a few other niche players) unless your shoe is totally ground breaking.

  • running shoes made of synthetic rubber are great and some of them are water resistant too",,

  • By Oscar Chu

    I've always enjoyed running barefoot, but my soles can only handle so much... Rough terrain (pebbles), hot pavement, and cold rainy days are a little too harsh. I am waiting for the perfect minimalist shoe: flexible, light, and shaped for bare feet. In my particular case, I have wide feet with a very low arch, and my toes spread out. I have yet to find a running shoe that meets these features. VFFs are the only shoes I found to allow the toes to spread out (but they don't make wide widths). All the other shoes have a pointy toe area. Why is that? It is fashionable to have pointy toes, but it is a hindrance to run with toes squished together (especially for the big toe). Why do companies that make "comfortable running shoes" not understand that more runners will buy their shoes if the front is wide enough for their toes to spread out? Even aqua shoes have pointy toes! Running shoes should be made for running, not for "fashionable" dress occasions. So what if they look weird? I think that's why VFFs and Crocs are so successful (unfortunately neither accommodate for wide flat feet). Please make sure that the front of your shoes are actually shaped like outlines of real feet, following the shape of the toes, instead of forcing the toes into a narrow area. Note these two areas: 1) allow the big toe to go straight forward, 2) allow the small toe to spread out away from the other toes. This is what bare feet naturally do when walking (why don't shoe companies understand?). Think of the ideal shoe shape to look something like a triangle from the tip of the big toe to the tip of the small toe to the inside heel (except somewhat rounder and bigger of course). All the current running shoes are shaped like diamonds in the forefoot(if I could smack a shoe designer, I would).

  • Any updates on the when and how much? I'm really excited about these shoes and have just about worn out my NB trainers. I have VFFs, but as mentioned here before, they're not so good for cold weather and don't look like normal shoes.

  • By Michael Jorgensen

    Some business advice with personal incentive: VFF are popular and a pretty good minimalist footwear, except for cold or/and wet conditions. (they also do not look normal), hence I would suggest that you come out with a model that is waterproof, and one that can pass for a normal shoe. I cannot find a single minimalist running shoe that is waterproof, so you could have a huge advantage there.

  • By Henda Salmeron

    I just registered for this year's Himalayan 100 stage race and like many others I have serious shoe issues! I have gone thru 3 pairs of running shoes in 30 days that are not working for my feet. I also just bought a pair of Vibrams to see if it would work. They are great but I have a bit of warped little toes and they don't fit very well into the shoes. I cannot wait to try a pair if Skora shoes! Where would they be available? I live in Dallas, Texas.

  • By Eric Vouga

    Fascinating reading! For years as a recreational runner I ran only in my $10 hightop sneakers and never had any pain or discomfort or suffered any injuries. I was always told by other runners that I would could prevent injuries that were certain to come by buying some expensive running shoes. I never did -- not because I thought they were wrong, but because I didn't want to plop down the $100 for new shoes when my worn out hightoppers still had some life to them. The year I turned forty I decided to run a marathon and went out to buy by first pair of running shoes...a $20 pair I found at a Sportmart. I trained all summer in them and ran the marathon with no pain or discomfort at all. I decided that I was now an official "runner" and the following year I treated myself to the most expensive shoes I had ever owned -- a $120 pair of New Balance. Now I was ready to really rock and roll! The only problem was that on my first run I had to stop three or four times and take off my expensive shoes and massage my feet. I thought they just need to be "broken in". Little did I know that it was the shoes breaking me in. I stuck with the shoes and developed planter fasciitis, ankle and knees problems. I thought it was just the weekly mileage that I was putting in. Eventually I tossed the shoes and thought my running days were over. I have since then started running again, in cheap worn out tennis shoes with very little discomfort. After reading your story and different articles about barefoot running I now realize that my body was telling me that those expensive running shoe were the worst things to run in. I just started recently running short distances in my barefeet and absolutely love it. Can't wait to try out your new product!!!

  • By Karen

    Yep, I too got an education from pain. Plantar fascitis, in my case. I iced my feet, and bought various types of orthotics, which didn't seem to help (in retrospect, I think the orthotic arches were too high, such that they over-stretched and weakened my arches, as would happen if you pushed up on the keystone in a Roman arch!).

    Then I discovered and purchased some MBTs, which did a great job of strengthening my foot and leg muscles. The fascitis went away, which I credited to the MBTs, but by then I was well on my way down the path of "alternative footwear" and "barefooting." Further internet searches led me to Vibram FiveFingers, then Vivo Barefoot, and now Skora!

  • By Jon

    Great post, Looking forward to your next one!

    Interresting to note that most of us barefooters / minimal runners got into it because of injuries.


  • @ Will : Thanks for kind words, we're excited to share our journey, challenges and accomplishments with the running community. Let Kate know she IS getting a test pair once available :P

    p.s. You're the third person I know that runs barefoot and works in the shoe industry - I love it, we'll convert them all from the INSIDE! Genius! LOL!

  • By Will

    ITBS is what broke the camel's back so to speak and drove me to try Five Fingers. I had hip flexor problems and have suffered from what feels like mild shinsplints for years. As soon as I'd get back into decent racing shape one of the above would flare up. Now I'm trying minimalism and it seems to be doing the trick. It makes me feel like a hypocrite working in an orthotic-loving running store, however.

    I love the look of your concept sketch and can't wait to see what else is in store for next year. My wife, who just commented about wanting a women's version, is gloating about possibly getting to test a pair. I'm jealous, but I'll deal with it.

    Best of luck in getting Skora up and running!

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