The Black Arrow: Skora TEMPO shoe review @skorarunning

Running shoes are like different arrows in the hunter’s quiver. A good bow-hunter will match the arrow to their bow, their ability, and their objective. There are many variables, but the point is that there is an option that is preferred to all others for a given task – and it may be different for each individual.

With the addition of the all-new TEMPO to its line-up, Skora adds a significant new arrow to the runner’s quiver. I’m letting my geek bleed through a bit – Tolkien fans will understand the reference, but I won’t strain the analogy. TEMPO is both more and less shoe than Skora’s other models in certain respects, but the important thing is that it’s just a little bit different. The TEMPO remains true to Skora’s core mission of zero-drop, flexible, anatomically fitted shoes for runners who want something in between them in the road, but don’t want to sacrifice a connection to the ground with an inch of marshmallows either.

Right out of the box, you can see that the TEMPO is all-new:


The first thing that struck me was that the shoe was incredibly light. Second, the one-piece upper is so diaphanous you actually have to be careful about your sock choice if you want to avoid changing the look of the shoe (white/light is best, I think). For instance, here’s what happened when I paired up some two-tone socks with dark toe-boxes:


Unless all your running socks have polka dots on them, and you don’t want anyone to know, it’s not a problem. Quite the contrary. The see-through nature of the upper means it’s really breezy too. While I received the shoe in winter, I mitigated the cold with some wool socks. However, now we’re into the 9 months of the year where this breathability is a real plus.

After my first trial run in them, I immediately could tell that I tend to land farther back in this shoe than any other Skora shoe I’ve run in. The contact patch of the shoe seems flatter to me overall. You can see where the bright green area in the midfoot is dirty from ground contact:


I also found the shoe to have more arch support than Skora’s other models. While the FIT is my personal Skora Goldilocks shoe, the prospect of a shoe with a little more arch support is a plus for many. As I write this, some 200 miles after my first run in them, including about seven long runs around the 20 mile mark, while I can perceive the difference, it’s not a negative. The additional cushioning makes TEMPO a great distance shoe for pavement, which is the surface I log most of my long runs on.

While Imelda Marcos’ 3,000 shoe collection is nothing to aspire to, there are some good reasons to have some variety in your running shoe lineup. If you run every day, you ought to have at least two pairs of running shoes, to give them a chance to fully air dry before you wear them again. Supposedly, this will make a pair last longer than if you just wear one pair over and over again and they won’t stink. Also, more color coordination options! More fundamentally though, I think running in more than one type of shoe (as opposed to just two different pairs of the same model) has some advantages as well. I’m not going to make any crazy claims about injury prevention and I don’t have a degree in biomechanics, but it seems to me that the same wisdom that suggests you should vary your running surfaces applies here as well. You don’t want to run every day on a treadmill, or on pavement. Throw in a crushed gravel trail, some dirt single-track, a cushioned jogging trail. Even if you’re stuck on pavement, you can choose flat courses or hills. I try to mix up my shoes as well – some days I’ll pick a lighter, less cushioned shoe like the PHASE if I’m going to be on a cushioned surface already, like the track. Pavement runs mean more a more cushioned shoe like the FIT or now, the TEMPO. There are many reasons to have many shoes, but the best reason is to have a shoe that you feel is ideally suited to a specific purpose.

Skora’s line-up now includes a combination of different outsoles, insoles, and uppers that lets you find a shoe that’s well-suited to your personal preference. In this spectrum, the TEMPO is Skora’s most cushioned shoe. While all Skoras are zero-drop, the stack height (how high your foot, in the shoe, is off the ground) of the TEMPO is higher: 22 mm (compared to the FIT at 16). It’s zero-drop, because both your heel and your forefoot are both 22 mm off the ground.

Here’s a visual comparison of the stack height of TEMPO and FIT:


You can also see that Skora uses their thickest, most cushioned insole in TEMPO – it appears to be the same thickness as the FIT insole:


The TEMPO has the same wonderful, roomy toe-box as other Skoras. I think this is an essential part of running shoe design, too often ignored by other companies.

I didn’t have any problems getting the shoe to fit me – it seems true to size, i.e., the size I measure at is the size I wear, and it fits well without slopping around on my foot. It’s not as snug as FIT, but the upper isn’t as stretchy as FIT’s. Asymmetrical laces adequately lock down the midfoot and heel.

Like I said, I’ve been really focusing on using this shoe for long runs, in anticipation of running Boston in it. I’ve had zero problems with it over 200+ miles and a half dozen 20 milers. The shoe is really holding up well. I don’t see any failure points developing on it anywhere, and wear is minimal. I’m guessing it will far exceed the 500 mile mark.

One of the things that appeals to me when considering the shoe as a marathon shoe is the variety of foot strike positions it accommodates. Since transitioning to barefoot and minimal shoes several years ago, I rarely heel strike. At faster paces, I’m towards the front of the midfoot, at slower paces it’s more of a whole foot/midfoot landing. In the marathon, no matter what you are wearing, you’re going to have some muscle fatigue at some point. I’ve run ten. In several of them, I’ve found that taking a break and doing a little bit of heel striking at some point after the twenty mile mark helps to work out some of the kinks so I can get back to my usual landing. The TEMPO makes this a little more comfortable than some other shoes. In fact, during a recent four mile race over really hilly pavement at a pretty fast pace, I was amazed to find myself naturally landing farther back on my foot than I expected – not quite a heel strike but close. I think a shoe that gives you some options in how you use it is a great arrow to have in the quiver. I probably wouldn’t recommend heel-striking in this shoe all the time, but that’s just me.

To sum up, I’m thrilled to have the TEMPO in my running “quiver.” It’s an arrow I’ll pull out over and over again. After Boston, I’ll update this post and let you know if it made me feel like Bard slaying Smaug!

To check out the new TEMPO – available today, April 6, 2015, just click through the banner on the right side of this page!

Objectivity statement: I’m a Skora Ambassador, as you may have noticed on this page. A pre-production TEMPO was provided to me free of charge. I like free shoes, but they don’t render me a mindless automaton. Skora doesn’t control my content, and I like to exercise my free will. If I like something, I’ll tell you. If I don’t like something, I’ll tell you that too. I’ve reviewed a lot of shoes I don’t like. I haven’t reviewed any Skoras I didn’t like, but I definitely have my preferences!

One comment on “The Black Arrow: Skora TEMPO shoe review @skorarunning

  1. […] However, the first downpour of the day started soon after we got inside the tents at the athletes’ village. Fortunately there was room for everybody to get inside. Eventually, the rain from this first band of showers ended and we exited the tent and lined up in the corrals. The beginning of the race was dry and the rain held off for the first 6 miles or so. However, after that it started up again and eventually it rained hard enough to totally soak my clothing. I was dressed in tech shorts, tech T-shirt, wool Icebreaker socks, wool Icebreaker liner gloves, and Skora TEMPOs. For my review of the TEMPO click here. […]

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