Product Review: Women’s Skora Phase

Skora_logo I never tried minimalist shoes until Skora offered me the opportunity to try their new Skora Phase for women this past December. As a Neutral Shoe user, I was both hesitant and a little excited. My research on Skora informed me that this is a Portland based company and perfect to feature on the Run Oregon Blog. The first thing I noticed upon opening is that these babies are beautiful. I mean oooh shiny distractible pretty type beautiful. I had no choice on the color style, but was extremely happy to see they sent me the Blue/Purple/White design. After a few clicks of my camera, I realized that flash was not going to work on these shoes due to the excellent reflective overlay edging on them. These shoes were aesthetically pleasing and had a unique asymmetrical lacing system that I replaced with Yankz (or a similar lace). I also noticed another unique thing was no tongue in these shoes.

20140108_111907These shoes are minimal with a 0mm heel-toe drop and only weigh 5.8 ounces. Therefore, they were very light. It says they have an 11mm heel stack height but they have no midsole. The bottom of the shoe does have a rubber outsole and they had some protection over the toe box.

Trying them on for a run, I was worried the lack of a tongue might irritate my foot, but I found no issues there. The fit felt different and weird, but not in a bad way. I did use the shoes for walking around the house and feeling them out and I loved that they fit great for my wide and large feet. Turns out they have this ‘REALFIT last design. This means that asymmetric shape with a curved bottom profile, wider toe box and a larger ball girth volume to provide a more natural fit. I loved how they had a protective cover over the toes of the feet. The only issue I did find was some ankle rub. I discuss this more later.

Skora Phase shows off it's brighter side with reflective markings

Skora Phase shows off it’s brighter side with reflective markings

Research suggested that I start slow and build up. So I just went for a 2-mile run my first time on paved roads.  I could tell immediately that I had a change in my gait. I ran shorter steps, and although I am usually a heal midstride hit runner, I found myself running on the balls of my feet. After turning around at mile one, I could feel some tightness and knew that I would feel it the next day. (I felt it the next three days). Stairs were excruciating, but I survived.

I started to build up slowly, but I found that a 10% increase takes forever to build up! My calves always hurt the next day until about month two and even then they were still sore. Unsure if this is normal or not, but still I never built up past 4 miles, so I don’t know how well they will tread on long distances. A plus was they forced me to think about my form constantly. Add to that, they made my nice calves even more defined and shapely.

I did try on a variety of surfaces, to include the mini trail park just down the street. The rubber sole had great protection and traction. I hardly felt the rocks and felt no gravel while running.

Skora Phase laces replaced with Yankz

Skora Phase laces replaced with Yankz

The drawbacks. My calves always hurt after running in these shoes, just a little less going into month two. My vanity kept wanting the pretty shoes, but my head would start reaching for the neutrals to get that longer run in and not limit myself. Another issue was that most running socks did not rise above the ankle. I found myself having to set aside certain socks or wearing compression (which was not hard to do for me) because the shoes rubbed my ankles. I imagine if you have ankle issues, which I did not, this would be a problem. Luckily, my low mileage never gave me more than minor chafing and I learned very fast to find socks over the ankle.

Pros:

  • Breathable soft air mesh fabric
  • Laminated reflective overlays that are very reflective
  • asymmetrical lacing system ensures a secure fit
  • Great designs
  • anatomical flex grooves enhance your natural gait for maximum efficiency
  • Great traction in all road types
  • You think about your form constantly
  • Great calves!
  • True to size. I wear size 10.5 shoe and these were a 10.5 vs my usually 11s in running shoes.
  • 1 Year Warranty by the Company
Maryalicia's calves after Skora  flexed

Maryalicia’s calves after Skora flexed

Maryalicia's Calves after Skora

Maryalicia’s Calves after Skora

Cons

  • The minimal miles for me
  • Achy Calves
  • Deep heel can cut into your ankles
  • Some of my running socks did not rise above the shoe in the ankle area

I would love to say I fell in love with minimalist shoes and I am a convert, but no. These shoes were great and if I were a minimalist runner, I would be a convert to Skora. I feel I should be a convert! I have better running form, improved strength in my lower legs and calves, and I could tell a difference after my half marathon in January with less recovery time (running in regular neutral shoes)  in my calves. But I am not. I am impatient. I have several half marathons (about one a month) and I needed to use other shoes to continue my training. This caused my build up to be too slow for me. If I can just continue my raining in regular shoes, why use minimalist? Neutral is working, so why change?

I did find a compromise! Speed workouts! I find myself reaching for these babies for speed workouts! I love how they work on my form and still keep my calves shapely and give me a motivation to do track work. Plus the compliments I get on these beauties is wonderful!

These shoes are beautiful!, bright, colorful, safe, and have a comfortable fit. They are made by runners for runners and the company’s passion and innovation in making newer better shoes constantly is noticeable and working! If you are a minimalist runner, or looking to try minimalist shoes,  I encourage you to try Skora, I don’t think you can go wrong!  In fact! If you are interested – Skora is the one of the footwear sponsors for the First Thursday event in March ( read that as THIS THURSDAY)!!

Skora Phase reflective markings

Skora Phase reflective markings

Skora Phase ready for their first run

Skora Phase ready for their first run

Skora Phase ready forwaling around and trying out

Skora Phase ready for walking around and trying out

Skora Phase out of the box

Skora Phase out of the box

Skora Phase out of the box

Skora Phase out of the box

Skora Phase out of the box

Skora Phase out of the box

5 Comments on Product Review: Women’s Skora Phase

  1. kylejkranz // March 4, 2014 at 10:34 AM //

    Funny, I wear my Cores (same thing sole as your Phases) for my warm ups, cool downs, gym work, and runs under an hour. My harder and/or longer efforts are done in SKORA’s more cushioned Fit shoe.

    Shoes are a tool just like any other piece of gear, and while I’m not running excusively in the very very minimal Core and you’re not doing the same in Phase, wearing the shoes for some of our workouts can no doubt help improve our form and strength, that’s why I think anyone can benefit from wearing lower profile footwear 🙂

    • Well said Kyle! and I am doing that. I guess I just thought I might be one of those converts to only minimals, but it makes me feel better that I can still enjoy them without having to be a full convert! Which I am doing.

      • Yeah totally, and research says that running in different styles of shoes is likely to reduce your risk of injury too! Totes awesome.

  2. Why’d you replace the laces with Yankz? Where they causing a problem or was it just because?

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