I am a child of the barefoot running era. Middle-aged, and searching for ways to fix my breaking body, I found the answer in ‘Born to Run’
– run barefoot, and later, in the most-minimal shoes possible.
After 3 months running and walking only barefoot, I tried several of the “early” minimal shoes. VFFs, New Balance Minimus, Altra Instincts and Luna sandals.
After a summer of running only in Luna sandals, I decided that it would soon get too cold for sandals, and bought a pair of Skora Cores because they were on sale.
Not only did I run all winter, but I’ve since put more than 1,500 running miles on those Cores, not to mention quite a few walking miles too. They are possibly my favourite pair of shoes ever. The wide toe-box, the supple leather flexibility and the asymmetric lacing on the Cores, represent some of the best features that have appeared in the barefoot/minimal “revolution”.
The Cores are like an old-fashioned pair of racing flats. They are fun to run in because there is almost nothing to them and they disappear on my feet when I run. They are the closest thing I have to running barefoot, and I love them.
But I’m running further these days, and, oh, you know, getting older. After 3 years of barefoot/minimal running, my ankles and my Achilles/calves ache after long runs in minimal shoes.
So I’ve been looking forward to the Skora Tempo. In my mind, I’ve been imagining a shoe like my beloved Core, but that I can use for long runs, even ultras, especially on the road, where my feet take the biggest pounding. That shoe should be cushioned but flexible, but still with the wide toebox and the asymmetric lacing I love.
But I’m not as hardcore minimal as I used to be. I don’t mind a shoe with drop, as long as the drop allows there to be enough forefoot flexibility and still enough cushion on the heel.
So these days, the Skora Tempo competes, for me, with “normal” shoes that are basically more traditional racing flats. My current road marathon racing shoes are Adidas Boston Boost 5s, Pearl Izumi N0s, and Luna Leadville Pacers.
Into this little mix, yesterday, a pair of Skora Tempos landed on my doorstep. I had actually been holding off on a run, just in case I would be able to take them out right away.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I put them right on, and went out for a 10 mile run!
The Tempos are nice and light – my size 12s came up at 8.7oz on the right shoe and 8.5 on the left (yeah, OK – why is there any difference at all in the weight between left and right?!) I ordered a 12 in these even though I wear 11.5 in the Cores, which is my “normal” shoe size. That’s because my feet swell when road running, and 11.5 isn’t enough to contain my feet after running a road marathon. All of my other running shoes these days are size 12s.
The asymmetric lacing is wonderful. I have a neuroma on my left foot, and the combination of the lacing, the wide toebox, and the unstructured and light upper felt really nice, just like I’d expect from Skoras.
One problem I’ve had with zero-drop shoes, in particular, an early Altra Instinct, is that when a zero-drop shoe has cushion on the heel, it has the same cushion on the forefoot. This makes the shoe feel less flexible than I like, and it also seems to me to create more friction, and thus heat, in the shoe. In my Lunas, I really noticed the difference in flexibility between the 9mm Pacers and the 10mm Monos. This also makes me feel like my feet are slapping the ground more than I would like.
I didn’t feel this “hot slap” quite as much in the Tempos as I have in other zero-drop cushioned shoes, but it was certainly there more than it is in the Cores, or shoes without the 22mm of cushion you get in the Tempos. But I did get these up to speed just to see whether that would be fun, and it was. Running uphill, in particular, was very nice in these shoes.
There were some problems. Blisters in two places on the right foot, and hotspots in the same places on the left foot. These issues tell me that the blisters are more likely caused by the shoe than my form in the shoes. They may be related to the shoes being entirely new, but I so often just take a pair of new shoes out, and most of the time, I do not get blisters in them these days, so I do think this is notable.
One blister was on the heel. I compared the heel on the Tempo to the heel on my Core. The Core has a bit more structure to it, thanks to more stuffing in the heel collar, and the heel on the Core doesn’t come as high on my Achilles as the Tempo does.
The second blister was on my instep. When I look inside the shoe, I see that there is an additional piece of material below the lacing area of the shoe, with a clear “ridge” line of this material where I got the blister. On the other shoe, this material doesn’t stick out so prominently. On my Core, this material is not needed since the leather already gives enough shape to the shoe in the lace area. So it seems that the very light mesh used has required this extra material to be present to give a little more shape in the lace area of the shoe.
If the instep issue remains, I will likely put duct tape or something else over the ridge, to smooth the material transition. But hopefully my blister issues will resolve by running in these shoes, and tightening down the laces a bit more until I find the right way to fit them to my feet – I’m not completely ready to blame the blisters on the shoe itself, although I have heard that others have blisters in the same places that I do.
As yet, I can’t tell whether these shoes will become my marathon+ road racing shoes, but they show promise. They are not as much fun to wear as my Cores, but the feel in my legs after running 10 miles suggests that they may help my legs not feel as broken on long road runs. They are light enough feeling that I’m pretty sure they will work for me at marathon pace (around 7:20 min/mile right now, and hopefully getting quicker!) More on these shoes after I’ve put up some long runs in them!