This is a sponsored post. I was given paid compensation and a pair of Zelus Olympus insoles in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and should not be taken as health care advice. Always consult your health care provider with questions or concerns about your health and well-being.
Hey, did you hear the one about the elite runner who ran the 2015 BMW Berlin Marathon with his insoles hanging out of his shoes throughout most of the race? Ha! I wonder what the punch line is to that one! Oh yeah, there isn’t one. It actually happened. In 2015, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge ran and actually won the race under such unimaginable circumstances. Blistered and bleeding, he finished the race in 2:04. Impressive as that is, some say the insole malfunction may have cost him the World Record. Still, he did earn the title of ‘most formidable marathoner in the world’ by Runner’s World Magazine. The BMW Berlin Marathon was held on September 24th of this year, and of course footage (see what I did there?) of the 2015 debacle was repeatedly shown.
Coincidentally, just three days later I received my new insoles in the mail. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘do we even need insoles? Heck, this guy won a marathon without them!’ Um, yeah, we need them. I seriously did wonder, though, do we need insoles other than what comes standard with our running shoes? I was excited to test them out. So much so in fact, I had just returned from a 27-mile bike ride when the insoles arrived. I couldn’t wait to try them, so I slipped them into my shoes anticipating a quick run around the block. However, I felt so good, I ran my usual 5.1 mile loop in them. In the fastest time of all of 2017, to boot!
So let’s back up just a little. Have you heard of SmartCells Cushioning Technology? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you might have some experience with it. It’s used in things like floor mats for anti-fatigue and fall protection, not only in industry, but also in homes and places like playgrounds and volleyball courts. As for its use in insoles, Fastech Labs has been making insoles since 1985. They teamed up with top medical professionals, and using the SmartCells Cushioning Technology, created the Zelus insole. Then in 2017, Satech, Inc. launched the product.
There are a variety of insoles to choose from. I was sent the Olympus, which is a full-length insole with arch support and SmartCells at the heel and forefoot. According to the Zelus website, the Olympus insole is designed for maximum durability, cushioning, stability, and support. I wear a 1/2 size shoe, and since the insoles only come in full sizes, I was advised to order a size up and just trim them down. When the insoles arrived, I laid them side-by-side with the insoles that came standard with my shoes, and was happy to see that no custom trimming would be necessary. It was very easy to slide them into my shoes, and they fit like a glove…er, insole.
With the Chicago Marathon less than two weeks away, I wasn’t about to introduce anything new into an endurance race, so over the course of the next week, I ran with the insoles for another 5.1 mile run and then a 12 mile run to total 22.2 miles with the insoles. Each of these runs was faster than my usual time, and my feet and legs felt great. The weather had cooled during this week and I can’t say it was just the insoles that made these runs so quick, but given the fact that I was running with them at a faster pace than I was used to without any pain or additional fatigue, I was sold. I did, indeed wear them for the marathon, and while it wasn’t my fastest time (the warm weather and my slacking on my training was to blame), my feet felt perfectly fine in the days after the race.
So back to the original question…do we need insoles other than what comes standard with our running shoes? The answer is…it depends. The research is mixed, largely because everyone, and therefore everyone’s feet, are different. It also depends on the quality of shoes you buy. My very first job waaaaay back in 1977 was at Joe Singer Shoes in Chicago. I learned then the value of buying good shoes, and I never go cheap. But I look at it this way: When you buy a new car, it comes with a great set of tires. There is nothing wrong with the standard tires, but if you want tires that perform differently (more speed, endurance, better performance in different weather conditions), you may want to upgrade. It’s (sort of) the same concept.
I am an Asics girl true and true, and have honestly had very few problems with them. They are a good quality shoe and I’m sure the insoles are of good quality as well. However, after distance races including both half- and full-marathons, the arches of my feet are pretty achy for a couple of days. I did not experience that after the Chicago Marathon, and the only different thing was the insoles, which do offer arch support. I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd, and I will run with the Zelus insoles again. I think if I have a similar good experience with the insoles for a second marathon, I’ll be calling myself a Zelus girl true and true.
Interested in trying them out? I’m hosting a giveaway! So head on over to my Instagram account @theaccidentalmarathoner for your chance to win. And even if you don’t win, you can head over to the Zelus website and use my promo code accidentalzeal17 to receive 10% off of your purchase. They offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee!
Do you use orthotics or special insoles in your shoes? How have they affected your performance? How do you Feel the Zeal when you run???