I have ugly feet. You may remember this fact from a fun post I wrote mentioning that I had bunion surgery when I was just 17. As a result, I have a pretty gruesome scar on my left toe. It’s also still crooked. In fact, one of my friends actually gasped in shock at my feet one summer exclaiming, “OMG! What happened to your feet?!” Nothing, I replied. That is just the extremely unfortunate way they look.
Several years ago, I was prescribed custom orthotics from a chiropractor. I spent a fortune on them convinced they would help make me a better runner and eliminate my pesky shin splints that sidelined me for many weeks. I tried them once. I ended up with massive blisters on the bottom of my feet where my arch is supposed to be (my feet are completely flat). I never wore them again.
So, when I was given the opportunity to work on the SOLE account at work, I was interested to try an insole again. SOLE is a Canadian company that creates award-winning insoles (also called footbeds) that customise to the shape of your feet. While the product is perfect for runners, they’re also great for any sport, or even just for people who spend long hours on their feet. A Canadian company perfect for runners? I was the obvious person to work on this. But first, I needed to give them a try.
However, given my less than ideal experience with my first insoles, I was skeptical.
Athletes who wear them absolutely swear by them and several of my colleagues claim they would never run or play sports again without them. The product can help improve athletic performance, increase endurance and help reduce foot pain and plantar fascia strain by 34%. They can also equalise pressure distribution, enhance alignment, provide better heel cushioning and help with balance. I mean, is there anyone on earth who wouldn’t benefit from these?!
While SOLE makes many options, the SOLE Active Medium footbed is a good option for most footwear. This is the one I tried.
First, I had to cut them slightly to fit my shoes. I decided to use a nice, old worn-in pair for my first test run.
The product molds to your foot over time, or if you’re impatient, you can heat them in your oven to speed up the process.
Thankfully, I didn’t melt them or set the flat on fire. So far, so good.
While I wasn’t super keen on my bright pink shoe + red insole combo, they did fit in my shoes perfectly. With 1.6mm of thickness, I thought perhaps it might make my shoe feel tight but they felt perfectly fine. Surprisingly comfortable. I wandered around the kitchen in them while I ate my breakfast, deciding whether I should bring the original insoles just in case disaster struck on my run. I ultimately decided that was idiotic. What was I going to do? Hold them in my hands? Ridiculous. I’d just hope for the best I decided.
I decided I would set off on a nice long run. I ran a total of 10.25km, perfectly happy and without any pain at all. Success! Given that I haven’t run more than about 6km in many weeks, this was a very good outcome. They made my old, nearly-ready-for-the-garbage shoes feel like new again. While I did return home with teeny tiny blisters where my arch is supposed to be on both feet, I really didn’t notice this while running. Just like a new pair of shoes, this is a pretty typical part of the “breaking-in” process for me.
I’m looking forward to wearing these all day while I walk around The National Running Show in Birmingham this weekend. If you’re there, and you’re keen to learn more about SOLE, let me know!
PS – they also make the world’s comfiest socks!