You may remember that a while back I was contacted by some representatives from the company, SofSole. At that point in my training, I was suffering from some lower leg pains in the calf/Achilles area and they felt their products might help. They asked if they could send me some stuff to try. Sure! I will try just about anything. Shortly afterwards, I received a package full of goodies to test out (seen here).
There were two main items that I tested: socks (3 different types) and a custom foot bed insert. They also sent me a set of gel inserts which I haven’t tried yet for reasons I will explain later. So what did I think? Well, let’s see.
First the socks. I tried three varieties: Coolmax Runner, Coolmax Trainer, and Anti-Friction. Ever since I have received these socks, I have been doing all my training in them. My first reaction when I took them out was that there was some size problem. They looked like they were made for a G.I. Joe doll. I looked at the website and it appears that my size is the cutoff between the two sizes. But I tried them on and they actually fit pretty well.
They are extremely low cut socks and I was concerned that my shoe would rub my heel. That never happened! They stayed in place for every run I went on including the speed work and long runs. The Coolmax Runners and Coolmax Trainers appear to be pretty much interchangeable and their makeup is similar with some material differences. The Runners have 40% Coolmax and the Trainers have 30%.
Before I continue, let me talk about the Coolmax. One of the big selling points on these socks is the ability for the Coolmax to wick the moisture away keeping your feet drier. Folks, this is South Louisiana in the summer. It would be more fair to give someone on the Titanic the scoop out of a Gatorade container and tell them to start bailing water. No sock on the planet is going to keep my feet dry when it is 95 degrees with 100% humidity. It just isn’t going to happen. So I can’t talk for or against the socks on that aspect.
I will say that they were extremely comfortable, I had no blister issues, and they seemed to absorb the impact from the running. Now the Anti-Friction socks were cool. They didn’t have any of the Coolmax material in them, but as I mentioned previously it didn’t matter. They do have these ridges built into the sock which keep your feet locked in the shoe. I used them for my 5K race and was very satisfied with them. They seem to handle the accelerations of speed work without letting my feet slide in the shoe. I haven’t tried them for a long run, so I don’t know how the ridges will affect my feet after hours.
Now to the Custom Foot Bed. I never would have imagined sticking something in the oven for 2 minutes and then putting my feet directly on them. It was warm, but no burn issues! I delayed testing these because I wanted to wait until I got my new Mizunos. Putting them in worn out shoes would not have been a fair test. So this past week, I was able to wear them twice: one tempo run and one long run.
As I headed out my driveway for the first run, I could feel the edge of the foot bed a bit. I was worried that it would become a hot spot, but after less than a mile I forgot all about it. No hot spot or problems after that. Of course, this was a tempo run so my mind was focused on other pains. But I guess that is a positive for the foot beds if lower leg and foot pain wasn’t on the list at the time.
I tried them again for my 12 mile run on Saturday. Once again it took a few hundred yards for the foot bed to settle in my shoe. I am not sure if this is a sizing issue or my shoe geometry, but I did not have to cut the foot bed at all to get it in. I also take the foot bed out after each run so my shoe can dry out (remember, 100% humidity). After that few hundred yards, I was able to settle into my run with no other issues.
So far I only have about 20 miles on the inserts and I can’t say whether they have helped my lower leg problem or not. I did my 12 miles yesterday and I don’t hurt too bad today. I plan on keeping them in and following up with another report later. The other inserts I will try at a later date. I have learned that if you try to many different things at one time then you don’t actually know which one worked. After 100-150 miles with the Custom Foot Bed, I will give the other ones a shot.
So what is the verdict? The socks do what they say they are supposed to do (ignoring the 5 gallons of water in my shoe after every run.) I really like the Anti-Friction socks especially for interval work. The Custom Foot Bed is doing fine so far, and I am hoping they solve some of my lingering lower leg issues.