The idea that sports and computer games go hand in hand is an alien concept for many. However, I genuinely believe that plenty of gamers also enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Consequently, when I was offered the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes to try, I leapt at the chance. These stylish, well-built, and lightweight trainers are perfect for amateur athletes as well as more experienced runners.
With many running shoes to choose from, it can be tough to pull the trigger and buy a new pair. Subsequently, we normally stick to tried and tested and familiar brands. I know I’m guilty of this, as I’ve spent years running in Brooks Ghost trainers. However, I’m always open to a new experience, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes. On top of this, the manufacturer provided a pair of running socks to test the full Zen experience. So, let’s wait no longer and see how these trainers held up.
What’s in the box of the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes?
- The ZR 01 Zen Running shoes are delivered in a simple compact box. The plain design is straightforward but eye-catching. Some basic words deliver the company ethos and the packaging is fully recyclable. Inside, the shoes are securely packaged and wrapped in a fine layer of tissue paper. Further to this, a cardboard inner lining ensures each trainer maintains its shape.
- The ZR 01 Zen Running shoes look fantastic. With a two-toned design and an array of colours, they look and feel amazing. I chose the Mayfly / Lucite Green, but three other options are available. These are neutral shoes with cushioned support. Furthermore, they have a sewn-in sock-fit upper for ultimate comfort. Alongside this, they are made from plant-based material and are vegan approved.
Though I love my running gear to look stylish, comfort and build quality are far more important. Luckily, the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes ticks all these boxes and much more. These trainers are designed to be snug at all times. However, purchasing a half or full size above your normal fitting is recommended. I went for the latter option due to my wider feet, and I wasn’t disappointed. With a large toe box area and a tight but reassuring upper, they felt fantastic. Furthermore, the inner cushioning isn’t intrusive and your feet stand in a “normal” position.
This cushioning is important when training at high intensity or simply tackling a longer run. What’s more, the snug design combined with the excellent running socks reduces blisters and “hot spots”. As a result, you experience an effortless training session. Moreover, the stable strike area reduces injury and fatigue. My opening run of around 10 miles lacked the usual breaking in pain. Instead, it was business as normal as the miles faded away. On top of this, I had minimal fatigue in my muscles and there was no noticeable discomfort. This was an excellent result from a new and relatively unknown brand.
I’m used to a traditional eyelet system. However, the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes use an external lace tensioning setup. I found this to be difficult to adjust at first, but easy to manage once familiar with it. The sock-fit upper was similarly received. I prefer a standard ankle design, but this offers more support and reassurance on uneven surfaces.
Talking of surfaces, the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes are designed for road running. Yet, I did tackle some light trails and woodland areas and they coped extremely well. Accordingly, I wouldn’t try anything more rugged as the lighter sole would probably struggle. Further to this, there isn’t a stability option in the range, at present. Yet, the manufacturers will expand their selection in the future to accommodate many runners’ needs.
The ZR 01 Zen Running shoes and their plant-based materials.
What I found fascinating was the mixture of plant-based materials. The ZR 01 Zen Running shoes are constructed from an array of fibres to suit different needs. Furthermore, each element is vegan and has been approved by the Vegetarian Society.
- Upper: One-piece sock-fit construction digitally knitted from eucalyptus tree fibres for zoned comfort, support and breathability.
- Sockliner: Castor bean foam with a eucalyptus fabric, to cradle your foot.
- Midsole: Sugarcane-based foam engineered with a ‘rocker’ design to cushion and glide you into your next stride.
- Outsole: Made from FSC-certified natural rubber, it keeps you moving with the right blend of durability, grip and rolling motion.
Are the ZR 01 Zen Running shoes worth it?
With a vast selection of running shoes at your disposal, it can be tough to pick. However, these plant-based trainers certainly stand out from the crowd. Their lightweight design and comfortable and cool material make for an effortless training experience. Furthermore, I felt no discomfort, tightness, or hot spots when wearing them. The snug design is reassuring and the larger sole helps to maintain stability.
On top of this, they look fantastic even though the sock-fit upper wasn’t my cup of tea. Moreover, the road-specific design does limit their use slightly, but this is nothing new. If you enjoy trail or woodland running, then you shouldn’t discredit this product. Instead, you can be assured that they are strong and stable enough for the job at hand.
A final mention goes to the wonderful Zen Running socks. These soft, breathable, and robust socks offer comfort and a blister-free experience. Though they are similar to other market-leading brands, they are environmentally friendly and built to last.
If you are environmentally conscious and want a solid and technologically advanced running shoe, then look no further. Not only will your feet look great, but your body will thank you as you burn up the miles. I loved them and I recommend you to buy them here!
(More information on the Zen Running Club can be found here!)