Review: Skora Form Shoes

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Skora FormWhere do I start with this one? I’ve been dying to try out a pair of the much-lauded Skora shoes, but living down-under, I had a hard time tracking down a pair. On my recent visit to Canada, however, I finally managed to convince the lovely folks at Skora to let me give their latest ‘Form’ shoes a test run.

First Impressions

Normally I don’t pay much attention to packaging, but when I unwrapped the parcel that the shoes came in, I couldn’t help but smile. The box they come in is just lovely, and has a handy magnetic clasp, which means that finding a future use for it should be easy.

Skora BoxThe shoes themselves are beautifully crafted, which is obvious as soon as you lay your eyes on them.

Oh, and they smell lovely. There I said it.

Included in the box was the 2 shoes, with inserts (more on these later), a spare set of laces, and a sticker. I’m always stoked when I get extra stuff, so the laces and sticker were a nice surprise.

Construction

Skora SolesIf I was to try to describe them to somebody who’s never worn them before, I’d say the Skora Form are like a modernised version of the old-fashioned leather racing flats. This lends them a really classic feel, and had me dreaming that I was in Chariots of Fire. But I digress.

The leather uppers conform beautifully to the contours of the feet, and the well laid out lacing only improves on this.

The soles are quite a bit thicker than some of the other shoes I’ve reviewed on this site. This can be lessened somewhat by removing the insoles. The quality construction of the shoes make this a non-issue and they are just as comfortable with or without them in.

What’s interesting to note is that even though the soles have a bit of thickness, it’s mainly made of harder rubber, not the squishy foam of modern runners. This allows for significantly more ground feel than say, the Nike Frees.

Performance

Skora Forms TopWe’ve established that these are some fancy-looking, well-built shoes, but do they perform? I’ve spent the past month putting them through their paces in a variety of conditions. Overall, I’d have to say that my impression is very favourable.

Roads

Really where the Skora Forms perform well is on the road. Hard-wearing and light, putting road miles on them is as easy as walking out the door. Most of the miles I put on them were on the road, and I enjoyed them all. I found that removing the insoles were best for road running as it improves ground-feel significantly and slightly reduces the overall weight of the shoes.

Trails

On light trails, the Forms were good, though I have to admit I was a bit sad to get them dirty at first! I did a few muddier and hillier runs in them and found that they did slip a bit. In all honesty, I will likely save these shoes for road runs and races down the track and use a more specialised shoe for these conditions.

Walking

Though they’re running shoes, I have to say that I’ve immensely enjoyed walking in the Forms. Leaving the insole in gives a little bit more heel protection which allows for easy long-distance walking. I’ve taken to wearing them wherever I go, as they’re extremely comfortable, and they’re wife-approved in the aesthetics department.

Overall Impressions

Overall I was well pleased to have had the chance to try out a pair of Skora Forms. They’re exceedingly comfy and look great. Performance-wise I found them to be very nice to run in and they seem to be pretty wear-resistant so far.

If I could change one thing about the shoes, I’d definitely prefer a slightly thinner sole, as even with carefully engineered soles and specialised padding, the ground-feel could be greatly improved. I look forward to a more minimal version of these shoes down the track.

Skora Forms are excellent, well-designed shoes. I’d recommend them for more advanced runners who have perfected their running form and are looking for a hard-wearing go-to road shoe. If these shoes are any indication of things to come out of the Skora factory, then we’re in for some great things ahead.

Did Humans Evolve To Run On Pavement?

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

One of the major barriers to the uptake of barefoot running is the perception that humans weren’t meant to run on flat, hard surfaces, such as paved streets. I’ve been asked this question countless times, and though I know it not to be true from personal experience, it’s often hard to convince people otherwise.

I spent a bit of time this weekend researching the subject, and discovered, that like all thing barefoot, there is precious little research on the matter. I did, however unearth a small study from 2000[1] that examined this question for shod heel-to-toe runners.

What it found was that there was no significant increase in the forces applied to the body due to the change in terrain. Interestingly, however, it also found that on harder surfaces, such as asphalt, that there is a reduction in loading rate.

Basically what this means is that as the surface becomes harder, the body adapts its form to compensate for it, allowing the knees to absorb the shock a little bit more gradually.

What I fiind fascinating about this is not only that the body can, and does, adapt to its surroundings, but that it also still manages to do this in shoes. The loading rate reduction is very reminiscent of Daniel Lieberban’s study[2] from 2010 that found a similar reflex in barefoot runners.

Of course these studies are very small and I would LOVE to see some proper, large-scale studies into some of the more common barefoot running questions, but at this point, all signs seem to be pointing towards us being evolved running machines that are well and truly able to adapt to all kinds of terrain (barefoot or otherwise).

References

1. Dixon SJ, Collop AC, Batt ME, (2000) Surface effects on ground reaction forces and lower extremity kinematics in running. Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Exeter, United Kingdom http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11079523

2. Lieberman DE, Venkadesan M, Werbel WA, Daoud AI, D’Andrea S, Davis IS, Mang’eni RO, Pitsiladis Y. (2010) Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature 463: 531-5. http://barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/Nature2010_FootStrikePatternsandCollisionForces.pdf

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Barefoot Basics #2: Bend Your Knees

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

When you first take off your conventional shoes and try running barefoot, the first thing you will probably notice is that the ground is really hard! It might sound silly and obvious, but the truth is that it’s easy to forget this simple fact when running with a big wedge of padding beneath your soles.

To compensate for this hard ground, your legs come with built in shock absorbers. And because you’re now running without the squishy comfort of foam underfoot, you need to make absolutely sure that you’re using them to your best advantage.

The easiest way to do this is to bend your knees. And when I say bend them, I mean really bend them. At first you’ll feel a bit funny, like you’re running in a crouch, but this is what you want. The more you bend your knees, the more they will absorb the shock that your legs and feet experience during running.

When you bend your knees, you’re not only engaging your knees, but also your ankles, Achilles tendons, and even your feet. All this extra absorption not only makes for a more comfortable run, it also will allow you to store and reuse a lot more energy which you can use to run further and faster.