Sunday, June 29, 2014

Learning To Fly And Skora Phase Review

I can't believe that June is almost over; it feels like it just began.

Training is still coming along well in the new cycle and I wound up logging just shy of 85 miles with only 1 missed run this month due to a business trip, so overall I'll take it. I'm still unable to hit my goal times but with temps in the high 90's that is to be expected. The great thing about training in the high temps is, as I learned last year, that it pays enormous dividends come the fall races when it is cooler.

Rome wasn't built in a day and the same can be said for speed and endurance.

Last year I didn't start any serious training until August and made the mistake of ramping up mileage way too fast. Because of this I was constantly hurting, missing runs and completely burnt out come January. This year on the other hand, I began training in March but have slowly increased mileage and have incorporated regular recovery periods as well as getting better about diet and sleep. As a result I've had no injuries and feel fresh; big surprise.

As we have all learned, we don't know what we don't know and since we are all different, it takes time to figure out what works best for us when it comes to training. I'll never know it all but I've learned some things that don't work and that's a start.

One addition I have made to my training it using more than one pair of shoes. Since March, I have been rotating between the Skora Phase on speed days and the Newton Distance S for long or recovery days. Now this was my 2nd pair of Newton's and while they are a great shoe that helped me transition to a mid-foot strike, they are no longer for me. Sorry Newton.

The Skora Phase is just a terrific shoe.

The first thing you will notice about it is that they have asymmetrical lacing (the laces go off to the side) and don't have a tongue, it's just an extension of the material. If for no other reason at all, this was what intrigued me about Skoras. Having suffered from the dreaded top of foot pain (extensor tendinitis) that many runners experience and limited my training, I was so relieved to be able to tie my shoes tight and not have to deal with the irritation of conventional laces no matter which method I used.
There are other reasons to love the Phase as well. They are light, flexible and have zero drop (no difference in height from heal to toe) making them an extremely fast shoe. They also give incredible feel for the road with only 11mm (including insole) between your feet and the ground. That's less than half an inch for us Americans.

The only downside I have found with them is that because of the low stack height, my feet started to hurt when I tried them out on a long run and got to around 6 miles.

With 100 miles on my current pair, they seem to wear quite well.

I have to give credit to Skora for great customer service as well. The first pair of Phases that I received had a defect in them to which Skora promptly took care of. Thanks Skora!

Now I definitely wouldn't recommend the Phase, or any other Skora shoe, to a runner who hasn't properly transitioned to a zero drop shoe. Going straight to these from a more conventional shoe would result in nothing but calf and achilles pain which would not only take you out of action for some time but leave you with a poor impression of not just Skoras but any other minimalist shoe too.

I'm so sold on Skora that I will be going to their new Fit for my distance shoe. At only an ounce heavier but with 5mm more padding, I am looking forward to be able to #RunReal full time and will be certain to get up a review once I log some miles on them.

Thanks for reading and I hope your training is going well too.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for this review and purchase all my shoes myself. I have however recently been accepted into Skora's affiliate program and receive compensation for orders placed through the link on the Skora sidebar.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Slow An' Easy

Two weeks into June and the new training cycle is in full swing. Getting the work in as planned but my times aren't where I want them to be. Truth be told, this is more likely to be a function of the heat rather than my fitness. With temps between 98 and 102 for my Tuesday and Thursday night runs as well as temps on Saturday and Sunday mornings hitting the mid-90's, I'm thinking this is the case.

The one thing that I have learned is that a man has got to know his limitations. In the past I would have obsessed over my lack of speed and probably contemplated adding more miles which would ultimately led to fatigue, injury and down time.

The smarter, wiser me knows not to go there. Patience is a virtue and the speed will come; I just need to stick to the plan.

I also want to do some experimenting with hydration on long runs. Plain water just doesn't cut it and Nuun seems to make me bloated and gassy so I'm trying to come up with something on my own. I began by trying creamed coconut in water and that seemed to work well. Now I've come up with a concoction of creamed coconut, local raw honey and sea salt in mixed in water. Along with ENERGYbits, I'm hoping this will be fuel enough.

Now you may be wondering why I don't just buy coconut water, coconut milk or just some sports drink but have you ever looked at the ingredients? I haven't gone full bore health-food nut but I am making the effort to go natural whenever possible and those are just chock full of additives and preservatives.

Besides, I'm a tinkerer.

As you can see, I'm just plugging along but with a few tenths shy of 50 miles in at the mid-point of the month, I've already logged more than the 42 in all of June last year and I'm feeling really good.

How is your summer training coming along?