Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Altra Instinct 1.5 shoe Review

Levi Dodd
October 2012

Award winning (Editor’s pick for “Most innovative”) Instinct 1.5


Altra is a cool company.  Their story goes back about 30 years and their zero-drop movement can be traced back almost 10 years.  Today they have 7 men’s shoes and 7 women’s models, all featuring zero-drop platforms.

The other cool thing I like about Altra is that their founder, Golden Harper is a runner.  No really.  He grew up running since birth and has the hardware to prove it:  set a marathon time of 2:45… at age 12 (which happens to be a world record, if you’re into that sort of thing…), has a personal best 5k time of 14:45, and won the Mountain 50 Miler in a time of 9 hours and 12 minutes, just to name a few.

It’s the type of company you can’t help but root for.

Now, here’s my little confession.  Despite all that, I wasn’t really sold on this particular shoe they sent me.  I wasn’t sure I’d even like it.  At all.

What I knew was that Altra was taking aim at a (what I thought) niche market of people with their zero drop shoes that still looked and were designed as a ‘normal’ shod running shoe – same cushioning, similar stack height, but zero drop.
I got the shoes and they sat in the box for several days, I was almost afraid to test them because of my pre-conceived notions on the stack height and their claims of “fully cushioned ‘A-Bound’” technology. 
I can now gladly say… boy was a wrong!

I laced them up, tried them on, and just wore them for a few days.  No running, just wore them.  I found that I like them… a lot.  I didn’t have to adjust my gait at all, nothing felt weird or strange (or evil… as I had assumed) and, in fact, they felt quite natural.  After several days of casual wear I took them out for their first run.  The run felt great, the room inside the shoes was amazing, the fit was spot-on, no thumping, no scuffing, no mis-hits from the stack height.  As I continued to run in them I continued to be very pleasantly surprised at the feel of these shoes (did I mention the superb fit?). 

Now, what’s obvious is this:  there’s virtually no ground feel in the sense that one thinks about feeling pebbles, small cracks, etc.  This was obviously be design, and, to be perfectly honest, it was pretty nice.  I used these for the cracked, worn, broken sidewalks around the old parts of town and on gravel road beds and I could still ‘feel’ the road but didn’t have the dull pains experienced on more technical surfaces. 

After getting a good feel for the shoes and seeing the strong points of the design from Altra (excellent fit, air mesh, zero drop, perfectly flat sole, wide last, And A-Bound cushioning) I couldn’t wait to try them out on Crossfit.  For Crossfit, these shoes are perfect.  I LOVED them for that (these will be my go-to Crossfit shoe from now on).  They’re very light, perfectly flat, and zero drop (all musts haves) but the cushioning provided put them way above my other minimalist shoes for many of the Crossfit workouts.  The flat base and wide last provide a perfectly stable platform for squats, cleans, etc.  The light weight and natural fit make them work great at dubs, and (here’s where barefoot and my minimalist shoes always killed me) on box jumps they are perfect!

For the same reasons, were the sole more aggressive, this would make a great trail running shoe.

To recap the high notes here:

·         First off, most importantly and already mentioned, the shoe is Zero drop.
·         The Instinct 1.5 is a lightweight shoe (tipping the scales at about 9oz) – much lighter than traditional shod shoes.
·         One of the greatest things about this shoe is the fit-they Nailed it!  The heel is snug and holds everything in place while the toe box is designed perfectly – nice and wide, plenty of room for toe splay and a very natural, comfortable fit.
·         The shoe is cool (temperature wise… but looks too ;)  and I really like quick dry air mesh
·         The liner is full length (nice touch) and is seamless
·         Perfectly flat, wedge like sole (again – great platform for cross training, exercise, and Crossfit)
·         The entire shoe, sole and all, is completely flexible!
·         Ground feel:  I expected to hate ground feel but found it not to be a determent to my knees or my stride.  What I did fine was that they were Great for more ‘technical’ roads, good for when the feet are tired, and awesome for workouts or other activities where you have lots of jumping, hard landings, etc.
·         The shoe comes with 2 sets of insoles – one a little thicker and squishier than the other.  Put the ‘Strengthen’ insoles in and you’re good to go.
·         One note.  I talk a lot about the excellent fit – what I found (fault of my own) was that I ordered mine slightly too small.  They run slightly small (1/4 size) so keep that in mind when ordering yours.  Even still (I should have gotten mine a ½ size larger) it was only short in the length, the width at the toes was still fantastic.

So, on the conclusion end of things:

I like Altra.  I like what they’re doing, I like the void in the market they are filling, and I like that you can look back at their previous versions of shoes and see that they keep getting better with each new shoe they put out.  As an aside, knowing what they did in this shoe and what Altra’s strong suits are, I would be very excited about their newly released “The Superior” trail running shoe… I’d love to get my hands on a pair of those, and if I do, I’ll pass along what I learn!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Skora Running FORM: product review

Levi Dodd
October 2012

If you’ve never heard of Skora running, don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either.  
But if you choose to not immediately go find out more about them, I can assure you, you will regret it.  I'm quite confident that this is only the beginning...

Skora is a new company (as most of you know I have a huge soft spot for start-ups!) and they are bringing a fresh look to the market as they enter.  Their mantra is “Run Real” and I must say, they’re making great strides (see what I did right there?) towards that end.

The Skora Form is one of their first 2 shoes they are bringing to market (now shipping) and with it, they did a lot of things right.

Skora is immediately setting their entire company around minimalism and their idea of “Run Real”.  Their shoes are zero drop, minimal in cushioning, no support, stitch-down construction (more on that later), anatomical last, outsoles mimic foot shape, no heel counter, and a sole made to fit the natural shape of your foot and encourage medial to lateral movement.

Check this out this product Video (less than 90 seconds)

I’ll go ahead and say one thing right off the bat, the shoes look fantastic!  My first thoughts upon unboxing were that they were almost Too pretty to run in!  I Love shoes, and as a pure minimalist in that department (I only wear zero drop shoes:  running, casual, dress, hiking, mowing the lawn, everything) I really miss my old shoes style – these fit the bill!  Not only are they a great running shoe, they look great underneath a pair of bluejeans.

  • The FORM is a lightweight shoe (tipping the scales at about 8oz) – much lighter than traditional shod shoes.

  • The anatomical last, curved outsole forefoot, curved outsole heel, and absence of a heel counter make this shoe fit very well – the whole shoe is built… like a foot.
  •  Skora has really differentiated themselves in the material of the shoe.  One of my favorite things about this shoe is the fact that it’s made of Pittards Goadskin leather with their “WR100X” leather lining.  This stuff is Awesome!  It’s genuine leather, super soft and supple (feels like old perfectly broke in leather right out of the box) feel, all while being extremely breathable (was thrilled about that part) And water resistant!

  • The entire shoe, sole and all, is completely flexible!

  • Ground feel:  I actually expected to be unsatisfied with the ground feel and was pleasantly surprised.  There really is good ground feel, but not as much as you would experience in a pair of Nadas or VFFs.
  • The stack height is still quite low (9mm all the way across) and so it offers substantially better ground feel than say an Instinct or an A86, but again, not as much as The Most minimalist shoes I’ve tested (and this is a choice by Skora’s design team).  The sole itself is quite thin and it doesn’t have excessive padding and sports no extra hyped up support or protection (which is great)

  • I, personally, really like the aesthetics of the “cool” lacing design, but also appreciate the functionality of being able to choose the level of “snugness” a little better as well.

  • Another + for this shoe is the fit.  They wanted to focus on a glove like fit and I think they really achieved it.  I like that it has a narrow “snug” heel and then it widens just a bit as it goes forward.  The toe box is wide (all the way out to the end of the toes-not just where the toes join the foot) and allow for good toe splay.  Excellent foot fit.  I will say that I feel they probably run about a ½ size large, so keep that in mind when ordering.

So, on the conclusion end of things:

I really appreciate what Skora is trying to do and I Love new companies!   I knew I would like this shoe, but didn’t really expect to love it as much as I did.  I’m running in it (makes a good trail running shoe as well), doing some Crossfit in them, and they are also my go to casual shoe everyday now.  You will Love the goat Leather.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Calf strains, pulls, cramps, and tears, oh my!

Calf strains are common ailment in running (especially in speed work).  After receiving several questions on various pulls, cramps, partial tears as of late, here's some good pointers on dealing with rehab during these times.

Think back to ICE therapy:  Ice Compression Elevate.  Use those 3 and add in something with Aspirin in it (Aleve, Ibuprofen, etc - but Not Tylenol) for an anti-inflammatory.  Something to remember on the Elevate part is that the body part doesn't just need to be elevated, it needs to be elevated above your heart.  So, if it's your knee, for instance, put a pillow underneath your leg and lay flat on your back.  If it's an ankle, calf, or foot prop your foot up on the arm of your couch and lay flat on your couch -- put some ice on it, turn on the TV, and watch a show (right now 20 minutes of the news will make you forget all about whatever your ailment is anyway as your head will start hurting much worse than whatever you've injured...).  Ice and elevate it for 20 minutes, no more.
Frequency wise, it depends on the injury (and your schedule).  Try to do at least once or twice a day and no more than once every 2-3 hours.

Compression:  since we're looking at calves for this particular example, look into a pair of compression calf sleeves or compression socks (same thing - one just literally is a sock and the other a sleeve that you wear with your own socks).  The compression can help a lot.  While injured, you can wear them around the house to assist in healing, they're also really good to sleep in (not to mention the sex appeal of sleeping in a nice pair of black leg warmers!).  On the exercise front, they can be worn during exercise and/or after to increase blood flow and reduce DOMS.

Also, if you are cramping pay attention to your hydration, potassium, and sodium - you may be lacking in 1 or all!

For those compression sleeves/socks, check out Zensah, CEP, RecoFit, or Sugoi.
For 15% off CEP use coupon code blog15
For 15% off RecoFit use coupon code CCTC

For some good information on rehab (stretches, what to do when, etc.) check out

out For excellent videos (4 min a piece) on everything to do with what's going on in that muscle, how to rehab it, what to do, why, etc.  Check these out:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And..... we're back!

First off, I apologize for the temporary hiatus - things have been crazy.

In addition to a very busy schedule, my wife and I found out she was pregnant (yay!), a few days later doctors held her hand and told her she could die, the next day they said, oh, just kidding, you're fine, but the baby's dead.  A week later (after praying for a miracle with all our friends and family), mom and baby are both doing perfect and they blame a 'data entry error'.  24 hours later, we arrive at new doctor.

anywho.....  Thanks for the patience, the thoughts and prayers (from those of you who also follow me on facebook and sent notes), and now... we're back!

VMC Race

This past Saturday the training runs I've been conducting this summer culminated in the VMC 5k race and all my Dormant2Dominant participants hit the road:
They. did. Awesome!

Everyone finished, everyone finished under their goal times, 1 took 3rd place in their age category, 1 took 2nd, and 2 took 1st

I am unbelievably proud of all of them and can't wait to see them out on the roads and trails - you Are Runners!