Friday, May 21, 2010
I have to begin this post with the disclaimer that I laughed the first time I heard about compression socks. I thought, "that's a gimmicky trick to get people to pay for something that they don't need." I believe in cooling down and stretching and drinking a recovery drink after hard sessions. That should be all the recovery one needs.
But I slowly came around to the idea and bought a pair of CEP's about 2 months ago (thanks Jody Herzog at Fleet Feet Northfield). I've always had calf tightness and decided to give them a shot, but only in the comfort and secrecy of my house. I figured with the hard blocks I was planning I would need all the recovery I could get, and after the first night wearing them I was sold. Wearing them after hard sessions seemed to reduce swelling and improve recovery. But the doubter and analytical side prevailed and I decided to do an A|B test on them. After all, maybe I was just getting stronger and recovering better. The last 2 weeks I planned a training block of 15 hours and 16 hours, respectively. The first week I decided not to wear compressions socks at all for the first four days. I did 16x400 on Monday on the track followed by a 2 hour ride on Tuesday. Wednesday's run went terribly. I was struggling to hold 7:15's for 7 miles and was planning to do 9. The weekend long efforts were forced and I wasn't pleased with my paces. Hmmm...
By Sunday I was back to wearing the compression socks. Monday was 4 x 2,400 on grass with 30 seconds recovery. It was one of my best efforts so far this year and hit 8:28 - 8:31 for all of them (5:45 pace), and it felt smooth and controlled. I did 1.5 hours riding on Tuesday and came back on Wednesday with a 1 hour swim, 1 hour bike and 1 hour run after work. I averaged 6:45 on the run with some slow early miles. Thursday was another medium long ride, and Saturday I did a 14.5 mile run at 6:45 pace and Sunday was a 3 hour ride zig-zagging across the Chagrin Valley.
I know I didn't control for diet, sleep, etc., but I'm convinced the compression socks played a roll in my improvement the 2nd week. I often sleep in them at night and I wore them during my drive to Richmond for Du Nationals and felt great. In this sport, the compounding effects of training can take a sever toll on one's body. I'm constantly fighting the balance between quality and quantity. I want to get in the long weeks but is it worthwhile if I'm fighting my body and dragging my arms and legs through workouts? Are those workouts doing more harm than good if tomorrow is going to be the same thing? The compression socks appear to allow me to get in the type of quantity I want while maintaining the quality. And for that reason I think they're one of the best investments I've made.