After a brief hiatus following the OC Marathon, it was back to the gym yesterday to work out my “man gams” and start prepping for the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 3 1/2 weeks. During my two day hiatus, however, I noticed a big difference in comparison to how I felt following the LA Marathon back in March.
The day after the LA Marathon I lumbered around like Frankenstein’s monster (complete with incomprehensible groaning… and a fear of pitchfork wielding townsfolk). But this past Monday, just one day removed from my 26.2 mile Newport Beach jaunt, I was walking around with very little real discomfort (still scared of armed townsfolk though). So what was the difference between then and now? Had I improved my level of fitness tenfold? Acquired mutant recuperative powers like Wolverine (and hopefully retractable Adamantium claws)?
The answer is a pair of socks… compression socks to be more specific.
Upon finishing the OC Marathon (and a much needed shower) I put on a pair of PRO Compression Socks (Click here to check out their website) that I’d purchased at the OC Expo and wore them for the rest of the day. And the results were pretty darned sweet.
Let me jump back for a moment.
I’ve heard about compression socks for quite a while. Their advantage (according to PRO Compression’s website) is to:
…speed up muscle recovery through enhanced vascular flow in your lower extremities.
I was a tad skeptical at first. The athletic community is full of “gimmick gear” that’s supposed to enhance your abilities and some of it is utter poppycock. And then there’s the thought that it only aids athletes through the “placebo effect” which states you believe something to beneficial, even though it is indeed poppycock (yet you do experience an improvement).
It’d sort of be like eating a green coated “marathon pill” (complete with an “M” stamped on it) that is supposed to give you extra endurance. You run the best race of your life and then say the pill must have helped you achieve your goal… only to learn out that it was actually just a green M&M. But the M&M did help, right? Yes? No?
So are compression socks the real deal or the legging equivalent of M&M marathon pills?
I asked some of my running friends who wear compression socks (and calf sleeves) their opinions and each said they felt it helped during their runs and definitely with recuperation afterward.
Jump forward to the OC Expo. You see, at each expo I typically pick up one new piece of gear to try out, because I want to broaden my horizons and you can often get good deals at expos. I’ve found some cool new gear and running accessories this way. And if it turns out to be a dud, at least the lesson learned wasn’t as expensive as it would have been otherwise.
So, I spied the booth for PRO Compression and decided they would be my guinea pig gear this time around. I spoke to the product rep, heard the pitch and had her measure my calves for a proper fit. The socks can be worn after a race to aid with recovery or while running to help keep your legs fresh and lessen fatigue (Note: the calf sleeves are designed to be worn during running only). I tried on the socks and they felt nice and snug, like I was swaddling my calves (or perhaps fitting them for a straitjacket).
I was tempted to try my new socks on race day at OC, perhaps they might help me in my quest to break the 5-hour barrier. But of course I remembered the adage of “nothing new on race day” and decided I would give them their “beta test” after the marathon to see if they would help with my recuperation. Did they?
In a word, “Yeah.”
In two words, “Hell yeah.”
These things felt awesome as they bear hugged my calves for the hour-long car ride home and the rest of the day.
And like I said earlier, the next morning I was walking around much less “Frankenstein-y” than I expected.
Yup, I’m going to take a hefty swig of the “Compression” Kool-aid and give these things a go.
I plan to wear these bad boys from now on after each of my races and Saturday long runs to help my legs de-rubberize. I’m also going to pick up a pair of the calf sleeves in the near future and give them some test runs. And if they do the trick in practice, I might just make them part of my formal race attire.
Of course I don’t expect you to take my advice blindly. My suggestion is to pick up a pair yourself and test them out. You never know, you might just become a convert like me and ask for a cup of the compression Kool-aid too.
Cheers… and Run on!
(What are your thoughts on compression socks?)