I would love to study the history of shoes, especially running shoes. I find it so fascinating, how important they are to running form and injury prevention, yet they are something we invented recently. Our primitive ancestors didn’t run around in Nikes and cushiony, well-structured running shoes. But here we are, hundreds of years later, trying to imagine a life without them.
Shoes are the common denominator of every run. They’re important! Just like you change the oil in your car, you should update and replace your shoes as often as you feel necessary. (Every shoe is different, as you get to know your shoes you will be able to tell when they’re on their final leg).
If you haven’t yet, you should consider reading my post From the ground up before buying a pair of running shoes. The type of shoe you should wear really depends on the type of strike you have.
The first running shoes I purchased came from the clearance rack at Wilkenson’s. I think they were Champion, and they cost me $25. I probably didn’t even reach 100 miles before I decided to upgrade to some Nikes.
I purchased the original Nike Free Training from the mall. I probably ran 700 miles in these, which in my opinion is way too long for this type of shoe. One night I went for a 5miler and spent probably at least 3 of those miles going up and down this one hill over and over. On the way home that night it hit me. IT Band Syndrome. It started as a dull pain on the left side of my left leg near the top of the back of my knee… if that makes sense. The pain got worse and worse until I was sidelined, for weeks! I eventually went to an orthopedic surgeon.
I think it was a combination of the shoes, the overuse, the heel strike, and the hills that brought on the syndrome, not any one single factor.
When I was back on my feet I decided it was time to take the shoe game seriously. I went to a running store and selected the Nike Lunar Eclipse 2. The shoes were hideous, but I really didn’t care. I didn’t experience too many injuries with these, maybe just some hamstring strain that put me out for a week. I probably put about 500 miles on these.
I felt like the Eclipse were, perhaps, lucky shoes so when it was time to upgrade I went with the Nike Lunar Eclipse 3. Seemed like a safe bet. These were even uglier than the 2s, but whatever, luck is what’s important. (Wrong.) Anyway, these gave me Achilles Tendonitis almost immediately. It was with great pain (literally) that I stood in my kitchen, scissors in hand, and chopped the backs off of my brand new running shoes. I know, I cut into a pair of $140 shoes, but I needed some relief! I ran on these chopped up shoes for about 600 miles.
Even though I had both bursitis and Achilles tendonitis in the Eclipse 3s, I still felt like I was on a winning streak. So when it was time to upgrade, guess what I did?! I actually don’t remember. I think I bought the Lunar Eclipse 4, but I only wore them for about 1 month before the shin splints. The shin splits sent me to the PT who changed my life.
With the help of my PT I was able to change to a forefoot strike, as discussed in my last running post. This meant I had to change the type of shoe I was buying.
The key take-away was heel-toe drop. This is an important little number in shoe shopping that you probably ignored in the past. It is the heel height minus the forefoot height. A 0mm drop means the heel and forefoot are the same height. I could have my stats wrong, but I think minimalist running is somewhere between a 0-4mm drop. If you’re a heel strike you may want something with a 12-15mm drop. It’s all about where your foot strikes the ground.
The first minimalist shoe I bought was Brooks PureFlow 2. Brooks is a great company, they offer a wide variety of shoes and I’ve seen them for purchase in running shops. They seem to offer something for every type of strike. (I’ve heard the Ghost is great for heel strikers.) I ran in the PureFlow for a long time. I didn’t have any injuries but I just felt like they were too much shoe for me. I wanted to feel freer.
That’s when I found Skora.
I’ve been wearing Skoras for about a year without problem. I have three pairs that I rotate through. I have two Tempos and a pair of Fit. I don’t have a scheduled rotation; I just wear what I feel like wearing that day. I’ve been wearing the Fit consistently for the past few weeks.
The Tempos are great. They’re really breathable and have a little more cushion than the Fit. My feet still feel free, but sometimes I like the little bit of extra cushion. If it’s cold and windy out, I can feel the air on my feet. For me, this is a benefit. I think the breathability has actually cut down on the blisters. (My delicate toesies blister easily). I wear the Tempos when I’m tired or if for some reason I just feel I need the extra padding or if I’m going to run more than 10mi.
I love the Fit too. They don’t seem as breathable to me, but my feet feel much freer in them than the Tempo. It’s almost like I’m not wearing a shoe. It’s very easy to lift and kick my legs back while running because the shoes feel weightless. I would warn against this pair for heel strikers. I’m sure people heel strike in them without problem, but to me the heel feels a bit wobbly. It could just be that I have no balance or coordination, but I think the Tempo would be a better option. I wear the Fit when I want to feel fast and free.
Two things about Skora that may be a drawback to some, I think all of their shoes are 0mm drop and I don’t think you can buy them in stores but I could be wrong. But, they ship really fast and they last for a longgg time, 1000+ miles. For me, they work.
A note on sizing. In the Nikes and Brooks I wore a whole size up from my street size. In the Skoras I wear a half size up. You don’t want your toes to be cramped like a rock climbing shoe; but you also don’t want your feet sliding around.
So, are you wondering what happened to all the other shoes I burned through? I don’t have a shoe graveyard. I try to reduce, reuse, recycle. I sometimes still lift in the Frees. I’m not sure where the Eclipse 2s or the Brooks went, I think maybe the Goodwill. The Eclipse 3s went to my bug out bag so I would have something to wear if I’m away from home if an EMP strike happens (don’t get me started). I gave the Eclipse 4s to a friend when we moved last summer.
All of that said, good luck on your shoe journey! The key points to remember are:
- Don’t be afraid to spend money. I can attest, by spending a little more on shoes you will save hundreds on doctor visits.
- Don’t be afraid of the ugly. I learned to get over the cute factor real fast. The way I see it is, I’m more concerned about how I look as a result of my running, than how I look while running.
- Find what works for you. My sister-in-law’s quote! Don’t be discouraged if the first pair isn’t the golden ticket to speed and endurance.
My next post will either be about my diet or about why I ditched my headphones.
Liberty with my Skoras. She’s not the most photogenic puppy ever and she’s easily distracted, but we work with what we’ve got.