When I first heard about compression gear for running and training, and saw the prices (usually way high), I was not sold on the idea. I mean really, how helpful could compression be? Plus, it all seems so expensive. Then last fall I jumped on the compression bandwagon and became a believer. I wear compression socks for recovery after my long brick workouts all the time, and after hard runs. They feel amazing. And, for 90% of my long rides I wear at least compression sleeves. Do they make a difference? I think so and I know that they aid in my recovery, soreness factor is less and recovery time feels shorter (maybe that's just the placebo effect? I don't think so though).
When you're training for an ironman and doing some kind of physical activity 7 days a week, recovery is really important, as you're basically always preparing your body for your next workout. I have also come to be a believer in recovery drinks - I use Hammer Recoverite, and use it after all my workouts. I drank it after each of my legs at Ragnar, and I know it helped me recover and get ready for my next leg.
I've gotten off track, back to compression. I love it. You may have heard, or seen, that my Ragnar team, So Much Cooler Online (#SMCOL) was sponsored by a bunch of rad companies (how could you not see it, we all went on and on). Two of those companies specialize in compression.
I have used CEP socks and sleeves and Zensah sleeves during training and for recovery. The Zensah sleeves I wasn't so crazy about - they felt more like leg warmers, sorry Zensah, you gotta step up your compressy-ness. The CEP socks I use for recovery and the sleeves I've worn on many long bike rides and brick workouts (and during my first tri - desert tri). I love CEP, but I'm always game for something new (and the CEP ones, which I love, are a bit heavy on the fabric - still breathable, but just heavier). I have never used compression pants or shorts and was eager to try some.
One of my teammates hooked us up with compression shorts from Aspaeris Pivot Shorts. I had seen a bunch of blog reviews of these shorts and was really excited to try them (I got them for free). I ordered the right size for me and when they arrived I thought, no way are these the right size. They looked teeny-tiny. But, I listened to my Ragnar teammates and tried them on. They fit snugly and felt good.
|teeny tiny shorts, blackberry for size reference|
The first time I ever ran in them was at Ragnar. I wore them for my first leg 4.6 miles on the face of the sun (aka Corona). I wore a sparkle skirt over them cause I wanted to be fun - but I have since run in them without something over, as I wear tri shorts that are just as spandex-y looking all the time. I had been wearing the shorts all morning and sitting in a van for multiple hours by the time my run started. I was really impressed by these shorts. I didn't feel too hot in them (good thing too cause the heat index got up to 110* - gross) and I felt comfortable the whole time. They never felt too tight, but they felt like they were working their compression magic. I actually felt pretty strong most of that leg.
I had never worn compression shorts or pants before and I am in love. The term coined by Heather, #magicpants, is SO true. They are magic. I washed them and wore them all day Sunday and I know they helped with my recovery.
The best thing about these shorts is that even though they are two layers, they don't feel heavy or thick when they are on. They fit nicely and don't cause the sausage casing look around your legs (as long as you get the right size). They are soft and comfortable and very nice. Just take your measurements and order the right size for you. I picked my size based on my measurements and they fit perfectly. Snug, compress-y and not sausage-y at all. I promise you won't regret it. (I don't seem to have any pictures of myself running in the shorts - blogger fail - but I swear I was rocking them.)
Our other compression hook up from a teammate was with a sponsorship from ProCompression they make compression socks. I hadn't tried their socks yet, but I was up for it. I liked how many color choices they had and was excited to try them. I got my pair (free, just like the shorts - just to clarify), of marathon purple socks. The first time I ran in them I was impressed. They were light weight and easier to run in than the other socks I had tried, but still compress-y enough. I figured the real test would be at Ragnar. I ordered a second pair with an Active.com Schwaggle in blue argyle and brought both pairs to Ragnar thinking I would wear one on my first leg and the other on my last (opting for capris on the chilly overnight leg, making tall socks silly looking).
Because it was a billion degrees during my run on Friday I didn't want to wear anything that might make me hot, so tall socks out. While they are breathable, I was not going to add any unnecessary clothing to my body. But, on my third leg I wore the blue argyle socks. And, I must say, I loved them. I was tired and a little sore at this point, partially from having already run twice, partially from being in a van for 30+ hours and partially from getting ~2 hours of sleep. I was counting on those socks to help keep my legs alive. I actually wore them the whole day leading up to my leg.
And, actually, my legs felt good the entire 6.3 mile run. I was really impressed. The socks felt good, they weren't too heavy, they're breathable and they have enough compression to be useful. In short, I loved running in these socks. Next test will be to see how much I like them on the bike, but overall, for running I'm really digging them.
|me on the left in my argyle compression socks - cute, comfortable AND functional!|
|Right before the start of my last leg - I was WAY|
too excited for 2 hours of sleep - and WAY colorful!
I wore both my Aspaeris shorts and my Pro Compression socks on Sunday for recovery (washed the shorts and wore my other purple socks - no I don't wear dirty clothes). And, I felt good. On Tuesday I was feeling sore and tired and I had a tempo run on the schedule. I was wondering how I was going to get through it. I threw on my Aspaeris shorts and Pro Compression socks again, with my notes on what I was supposed to be run written on my run (I figured out later that I can program my watch with the workout - fail on my part with technology - at least I don't have to write it all on my arm again).
|hieroglyphics telling me what to do|
You know what? I did it. I didn't kill it, it was still hard, but I did it and didn't feel like I was going to die. Compression to the rescue! Thank you Aspaeris and Pro Compression for powering me through my tempo run last night - that I had been dreading all day. #magicpants #magicsocks. (Hey Aspaeris - you should make some compression pants... just a suggestion). I will definitely continue to use both products for running and recovery, and I'll probably buy some more of 'em too cause you can never have too many tall compression socks or tight compression shorts.
I have no idea why I'm making this face, even the dog looks scared. Yikes! And, compression for the win!!!
Yes, I look goofy in both of these pictures, don't judge me, I was having fun.
Note: Neither of these companies compensated me or solicited me for my reviews, yes I got both the shorts and socks for free. These are my personal opinions.
In other news I did not get picked to be on one of the Nuun Hood to Coast blogger teams. Wah. :( I'm gonna say it was their loss, I'm an awesome teammate and would have been a great addition. Wait, its kinda my loss too, cause I really want to run Hood to Coast and wanted to be on one of those teams. Nuun, why you gotta make me sad? It's okay, I still love you, although yesterday I loved you a little less, today I guess we're friends again. I will say this, you are missing out on my awesome teammate, cheering, not super fast (but not super slow) running skills. Seriously Nuun, how did you not pick me??? I'm awesome, ask SMCOL van 2, they'll tell you, I'm awesome. Okay, I'm done whining...
If you are a company and want to sponsor a Hood to Coast team, I guarantee I can get you a bunch of awesome runners to come play. And we'll tout the amazing benefits of your product (well, as long as its amazing). Or, if you already have a team and need another teammate, I'm available and willing. Ask me, I'll definitely say yes! (Unless you're a company that does bad things, like sell drugs to kids or hurt puppies, then, I'll have to think about it.)
Or, if you want to run Ragnar Napa with me, I'm thinking about forming a team, scratch that, I am DEFINITELY going to form a team (I'm still on a bit of a relay high here, but Ragnar rocks, and I want to run more of them). Sponsors would be welcome for that relay too! And, we all know I LOVE Ragnar - see the badge on the right - I'm an ambassador (meaning relay expert and lover!). Let me know if you're in. It's in September. Come play, it'll be awesome!
And, in fantastic news, I did NOT get in to the New York Marathon this year. I was praying I wouldn't, cause I really am not ready to run marathons on back to back weekends (I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon this year). And, next year is my guaranteed entry, and I want to be able to run New York and really enjoy it. So, there's that.
Alright, time for a trainer ride...