I’m a stickler for following the “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” rule of running, but I have been slowly but surely been pulled in the direction of trail running. This deviation from the roads has me seeking out footwear that will compliment the new surface I am exploring…hence my experiment with the Skora Tempos.
To preface this review I should probably start and be very clear that the Tempos are not trail shoes! So one may wonder how I would have stumbled upon them in the 1st place. I am an passionate social media individual and have several runners that I follow that are die-hard Skora fans. They swear by the comfort, fit, and versatility of the shoe. I do my research before diving into a new brand. Shoes are the foundation of my success as a runner and I am not about to just throw caution to the wind and “try” out a brand that I am unfamiliar with. I posed questions to Skora fans in an attempt to narrow down the perfect shoe for the adventures I have on my race schedule. As my racing interests began to gravitate towards trail running I reached out to Sarah (dirtyrelentless.com) a Skora ambassador and fellow Oiselle Volee, who is an avid trail runner and asked her what Skora she wears when frolicking through the woods (that is what most non-runners think we do when out trail running). She was a wealth of knowledge which I greatly appreciated and suggested the Skora Tempos. I headed to the site, read the review, and ordered my typical size. A few short days my beautiful new shoes showed up. As many runners can attest to the UPS delivery person is a welcomed guest when, if they bring shoes!
Fresh out of the box the shoes felt stiff, but I was looking for a sturdy shoe to hit the trails with so this did not pose a concern. Upon further inspection I was pleased to see that the toe box was more generous than the Saucony Kinvara that I wear for road events. I could not resist the urge to put them on and head out for a run. I have for 2 years religiously worn Fitsok F4 socks and threw those on first without any Trail Toes cream (to prevent blisters), that is where I may have gone wrong to start. I had only planned on going out for a short run – 3 or so miles, but ended up getting 6 miles in before I noticed my heels were bleeding. Not good! I headed home and contacted Sarah for advice. She recommended putting a softening agent (Aquaphor) on the heel collar to soften up the material. After a few applications the material was flexible and soft to the touch. I had hoped my blistering problem was solved. Unfortunately it was not. I continued to have issues so I contacted customer service at Skora. They were wonderful. We talked through the issues I had and I ended up ordering a 1/2 size down. My 6.5 came a few days later (which was perfect since my heel blisters had closed). I softened them up with a bit of Trail Toes and headed out the door for trial #2. The second attempt at trying the Tempos went much better. Sizing down I have not experienced blisters or foot issues of any kind.
Now one run in a pair of shoes is not a true test, you have to truly go the distance to fully “test” them out and that I have done. For the past 2 months I have committed to wearing my Skora Tempos on various surfaces, workouts, and distances totaling close to 100 miles of experimentation. I originally became interested in the Tempos for running trails and have been pleasantly surprised with how they handle the terrain. I feel like my feet make great contact with the surface and give me control, but I do feel all of the rocks. I am looking into finding a rock plate that I could insert to prevent that from happening. (I’ll update when I find one that works.) The wider toe box has given me the room I need to prevent foot cramping and the zero drop has helped me to clean up my form. I get that shoes do not make a runner, you still have to put the work in, but I’m digging how the Tempos make me feel. After my 1st run my legs were sore. I run often and 6 miles is a drop in the bucket for me, I should not have been sore. In talking with another zero drop runner though I found that this is common. Your body is running in a more natural position and has to “work” differently. I was advised to ease into the shoes and build my miles slowly to allow for muscle adjustment. I have done that and worked my way up to 13 miles and plan to continue to add distance.
A few things that I noticed with the miles that I was packing on the Tempos…they allow for great ventilation. My feet stayed cool and dry, which is not always the case when the temps begin to rise in Wisconsin. However when we hit a cold snap I did notice that same ventilation worked against me and my feet were cold. I combated this by switching to the an wool sock (FitSok IWS Isolwool) and the problem was easily solved. Another feature that I noticed was the angled laces. Typically laces come straight up the middle of a shoe, the Skora brand offsets theirs. In the past I have had laces dig into the top of my foot especially during ultras where you feet can swell. It is a unique feature, I’m interested to see what impact this has on comfort as I edge towards marathon type miles. Some additional items to make note of – the material choices for these shoes are top notch. I have hit some dirty streets and trails leaving them filthy. I was shocked at how easy they were to clean up. I simply took a wet wash cloth and wiped them down, good as new. The added reflective strips are also a nice touch. I run quite a bit at night and like the added comfort of visibility. Your color scheme options are limited which many fans have mentioned to the owner of Skora…hopefully this will inspire a Spring or Summer release of new options.
One may wonder what happened to the size 7 Tempos that I started with. Customer service was willing to exchange them since I had blistering issues, but I chose to keep them. My goal was to find a trail shoe for a few ultras I have coming up this year. I have no doubt that the Tempos will become my go to trail shoe in the near future once I have worked into the miles and my body has settled in to its natural form and when I hit those higher miles I am going to want a slightly bigger shoe later in races when my feet have swelled. My goal race this year is the Fall 50 and it may be nice to have the 7 Tempos to switch into at the 1/2 way aid station. As fresh pair of shoes is heaven especially if it is raining (it poured last year).
This past weekend I battle tested (raced) in the Skora Tempos at the Door County Half Marathon. I had a women mid race ask me what brand of shoes I was wearing, she loved the bright colors. (They have also been a hit with the girls at the youth running group I work with.) The course was challenging with several hills and the shoes responded beautifully. I was able to get good push off to climb and nice control on the down side. In the end I had a decent finishing time and was pleased with how my body and feet felt in the Tempos. I am happy to report that I did not acquire any blisters even though my feet were a bit sweaty from the warm sunny day we ended up getting.
On to the next challenge…a marathon in the Tempos!
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive
PS – I have been asked in the past if I review products because they have been given to me, the answer is no. I review products that I am experimenting with and have purchased with my own hard earned cash. (If that ever changes I will be upfront about it.) I’m going to give you my honest opinion and welcome any questions you may have. I am not an ambassador for Skora.
Update 6/11/16 – I wore recently raced wore the Tempo for the Bellin 10k. It was a brutally hot race with temps in the 90s with extreme humidity. I was sweating like a beast, but the Tempos keep my feet cool and blister free. I was impressed with how breathable the mesh material was. Coupled with my FitSok F4 socks I was cool as a cucumber (at least my feet were).
Update 7/15/16 – I have continued to pack on the miles to my “Tinkerbell” Skora Tempos (yellow and green). Which got me thinking…how long are these shoes going to last (aka do I need to think about replacing them). I remembered reading a blog post on the Skora site about just this topic. Heading over to the site I was greeted by customer service. On the right hand side of my computer screen a chat box popped up asking if I had any questions. I entered that I was looking for a post about replacing shoes. Within a few seconds a link to the past post I had read was in the response section. I have always been impressed with the service Skora provides. This is another wonderful example of how response they are. Here is the post that was sent – When To Replace Your Shoes? The information was straight forward and easy to understand. After watching the video at the end I was able to walk away with clear cut advice (which I love)…when Skora shoes start to fall apart it is time to replace them. Now this advice may not pertain to other shoes and it is also important to listen to your body, but makes perfect sense for the Skoras. They are built tough and meant to withstand tons of miles. In addition to the blog I mentioned above I was also sent a post about rotating shoes – Why You Should Rotate Shoes. This is something that I have done in the past because I like variety, but never knew that it posed such a great benefit to my body. I have heard that you no longer need to “break” in shoes, but allow for you body to adjust to them. This, to me, is very logical. Even the same model of shoes will wear different depending on the life that they have endured. Brand new shoes will have more elasticity, bounce, and can be stiff. Rotating 2-3 pairs can help. Don’t get me wrong I rarely need an excuse to shop for shoes, especially running shoes, so this is awesome news! Time to pick up the Skora Tempos in alternating colors:)