What to Expect, What You’ll Feel, How You’ll Respond
By Peyton Hoyal
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?”
Then I learned about SKORA Running of Portland, Oregon and no such questions were broached because it was apparent that this company had figured something out that their competition had neglected: minimalist running is a fad, but natural running form and low-profile design were here to stay. Their respective line of footwear began where others brands had evolved (or devolved, rather), thus creating a new generation of shoes designed specifically for the anatomy of the human foot and how we were meant to run. Below is a guide to your first runs with SKORA, transitioning to its “almost barefoot” design, and how your body will begin to accept the new biomechanical changes the shoes will help you develop. Like a pioneer first travelling through an unchartered land, embrace the novelty of natural running with SKORA and let the shoes aid you in your quest for better mechanics, fewer injuries, and faster race times.
Run Right. Run Relaxed. Run Real.
1) Your First Steps- When you first step into a SKORA shoe, especially if you are accustomed to more cushioned trainers, you will notice that the muscles of your feet and lower legs seem to relax almost immediately into the low profile of its design. The zero-drop technology allows all of your leg muscles to lengthen and relax in much the same way as taking off your shoes on pavement and then walking barefoot across a grass field. The shoes wrap your foot like a sock, and offers no hindrance to toe flexion, grip, or widening within the toe-box. Walk around in your new SKORAS for a few days to adjust to this new sensation before setting-out on your first run. Wear them to the park, to the gym, while shopping, or even to the office- they are certainly stylish enough...
2) Weeks 1-2 - Once you are comfortable walking in the shoes, its time to test them on a few short jogs on a forgiving surface. I suggest completing 75-80% of your mileage for a given day in your normal trainers, then change into your SKORAS for the remainder of your run time/distance on grass or a soft trail. Do this for 5-10 runs until you are comfortable running at least 20-30min in your SKORAS.
NOTE: Following your first runs in SKORA shoes, especially if you are not used to more minimal running footwear, expect some degree of general muscle soreness. Remember, though, that this is a good thing as it demonstrates that your pair of SKORAS are waking dormant muscle groups much in the way that dynamic strength training does. Many modern running shoes, coupled with various Western lifestyle factors, tend to “shut-down” key muscle groups needed to run efficiently with adequate power output. However, training in SKORAS combats these negative effects that are virtually unavoidable in the West (sitting, driving for long periods, slouching, favoring one side of your body, etc.).
3) Weeks 3-6 - Wear your SKORAS for your shorter and/or recovery runs during these weeks. Gradually build from 20min to 45-60min in your new shoes during this time, focusing on letting the shoe take your foot through a natural strike pattern (landing mid-foot, pushing-off assertively, and activating all of the muscles in the lower leg). Slow your normal pace down slightly and simply feel each run and how your body is adjusting to the new footwear.
NOTE: At this point, most of the general soreness you may have experienced from transitioning to SKORAS should pass, and you will begin to experience extra energy, kinetic coordination, endorphin release, and a heightened sense of enjoyment while running in your SKORAS. This is due to increased muscle activation, sensory feedback, and blood circulation as your muscles adapt to the new range of motion and strength brought on by better biomechanics. Enjoyment of an activity is key to long-term progression and motivation, and SKORA footwear will enhance this factor of your athletic pursuits tremendously.
4) Weeks 7-10- Now that you are completing full runs up to an hour in your SKORAS, you should be able to progress further to completing all of your runs in SKORA footwear and to begin implementing faster bouts of training if you are a competitive athlete, recreational racer, or just enjoy the thrill of speed play. SKORA shoes were great for faster running with their low-profile and efficient biomechanical traits, so do not fear completing faster sessions and races in them once you are confident in your new-found natural stride. Start with a few weeks of doing strides on a soft surface (short, quick 15-30sec accelerations in the middle of or after your runs), and then gradually progress to your normal speed work routine just as you did with the easy running above.
Now you are ready to Run Real. Embrace the changes your body will make in response to the new shoes, heed its natural signs as you progress to better running mechanics, and don’t be afraid to enjoy the thrill of running quickly with a powerful stride down a wooded trail or through the urban jungle.
Note: While I am a Team SKORA Ambassador, this article was written of my own accord. It is not affiliated with the company in any way, but is simply my advice on how one can safely transition to SKORA'S more natural line of footwear safely and effectively. Use at your own discretion, and visit www.skorarunning.com to learn more and buy your first pair.
Originally posted at PulseRacingTeam.Blogspot.com