Monday, December 12, 2011

Gear Review: CEP Compression Socks & Calf Sleeves

As athletes, we use a lot of gear...expecially in sports like running where you wear down products continually. I am only writing gear reviews on items that I have used for extended periods of time.

With that being said, I am totally obsessed with my compression socks & just recently the sleeves. I pretend that I am not a bit of a gear junkie, but I am at least a little. I tried my best to avoid the desire to try a product to help me with recovery; I always think nature is better, let the body do it's job...well, after talking to a few folks who actually use them, I finally picked up a pair of CEP recovery socks to give them a try.

So here is my biased review after owning and using them now for about 6 months. First things first, they are a workout just to get them on. There is a little trick to get them on by pulling them nearly inside-out, leaving the sole of the foot still in, put the foot in, and slide them on with a little struggle.

I now wear these after every long run (say 3 over hours ). On some days, I sleep in them, wear them under my suit pants at work, but I have never run in them. I use them purely for recovery. At first, I thought maybe it was the placebo effect that after everytime I wore them I had great runs, felt light, no problems, etc....but I have yet to have any negative effects from them. Recovery does seem faster and it's now the very first thing I go for immediately after an ultra or long training effort.

CEP Compression Recovery Socks
With that being said, I finally thought I should give the sleeves a try. I have only had them for about 4 weeks but I have had a number of good long trail and road runs in them. Aside from looking like a tribal warrior in them with shorts, I just figure people think I forgot my running socks so I am wearing my dress socks. The runs that I have had have been cold and have taken place on the Kettle Moraine trails in Wisconsin as well as rolling roads. I also worn them on a few long trail runs locally.

My opinion is that overall I like them. I can feel that they are supporting my calves as I am running, hopefully reducing the amount of overall vibration & pounding that ultimately causes the muscle soreness. I though that there would be a bit of a squeezing effect since they are sleeves, making my feet feel like they are going to pop, but that was not the case at all. For those of us who wait until the temperatures really drop before finally putting long running pants/tights on...these also give you a some warmth....I have not tried them at warmer temperatures yet.

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

I have to admit, I did see a pair of mens diabetic black socks at the store for much less than the CEP's and I do wear them, but they compress far less. They feel like tight dress socks. good to wear when the CEP's are in the wash.


2012 Running Plans & Thoughts

It’s still 2011, so I have time to post my running plans for 2012. I’ll start this short list with a couple of caveats:

Caveat 1: I have a young family and at this stage in our lives, I have never been one to travel overnight for runs very much. If I could, I would, but not yet...I really prefer to stay local (within a morning drive) and since the NE Ohio Ultra Running community is so strong, I can easily fill up my calendar without having to go too far. I haven’t done all the races for one reason or another, so I am content in general to stay most of the time. With that being said, I am looking at 2 out of state 100 milers.....what the heck?

Caveat 2:  I nearly always prefer training over racing; I have since my days of cycling. As a matter of fact, I think it’s because of cycling that I prefer training. I have always preferred to head out for a hard ride or run for a number of hours to that of spending all kinds of money to do the same thing. As Chris McDougal noted in Born to Run…If you want to run a marathon, there’s the front door. I literally have run more 50k & 50mi runs from my front door than I have actually raced.  I suppose if I was wealthy and semi-retired, or just kid-free I would race far more frequently but with so many mouths to feed, I am happy to get up early in the morning and run a 50k from my front door.  I am quite aware that once the kids are older and they are too cool to hang out with the wife & I, we will be looking at travel in a whole new light. I also happen to live in one of the best places in the country to run from.

I am literally less than a 5 min run to the largest Arboretum (Holden) in the US, with over 3,600 acres, Chapin Forest (390 acres) 1 mi from my house, Penitentiary Glen (424 acres) about 0.4mi from my door, North Chagrin Reservation (BR100 start) is about 7 miles from my house….these are literally “among others”, there are a bunch of great parks around here.  As I write this out, maybe this is why I tend to train instead of race so much…..also why all my races that I am directing are in these areas!

2012 Running List (as of 12/12):
02/11/12 – Lake Metroparks Night Light Snowshoe Race (Chapin Forest)
03/03/12 – Lake Metroparks March March Madness Snowshoe Race (Girdled Rd. Reservation)
06/17/12 – Mohican 50 miler? Loudon, OH.

2012 Running Goals:
      RunWell / Leadville: I am simply overjoyed with the opportunity with RunWell as an Ambassador which is taking me to Leadville and hopefully dragging a few inspired folks with me. I don’t have any particular time goals with Leadville aside from the standard desire to run under 24 hours, my goal is to Run(really)Well for RunWell, enjoy the process, take it all in step by step, and finish very strong, it’s that simple. I want to show that it’s about accomplishing what you put your mind to. I know it sounds cliche but it is what it is. There is no doubt in my mind that I can complete another 100 miler. If for some reason, something out of my control takes me out of the be it, but there is nothing in me that will not allow me to finish.

·         O24: Outrun 24 Hour Trail Race. USATF Certified 1 mile and 13 feet trail course. What started as a need for a Spring 100 miler has turned into a full blown 24 hour race, go figure. I simply want to put on a great event with as little bumps in the logistical road as possible. It should give folks the opportunity to come and test themselves, set PR’s, reach new goals and provide them with a focus throughout the cold, dark, and wet winter months that we endure as athletes. I am trying to keep the race as simple and organized as possible. The intent is to make this a well-known yearly offering for folks who do not want to run the roads for 24 hours.  
      Nutrition: The focus that is equally important if not more this year is learning to get my nutrition on track. I have always managed to get by and be successful by most people’s standards….but I know that there is this key that I have yet to unlock when it comes to eating right. I am quite literally leaning heavily on the coaching of Bob Seebohar from to show me how to get there. I actually plan on doing a before and after Coach Bob report. I am sure I fall in the category of a lot of athletes that get by but could really unlock so much more potential. This is one of the things that makes endurance sports so exciting, it never stays the same, and you are always trying to improve.
      Training: I have got it in my head that I need to cross train more. I got out a number of times on the bike this year and it still irks me that the bike steals away mileage when I look back at my training miles. I have used training hours for years but still focus on miles as a runner. Even with running trails where hours & effort are more of a focus than exact miles, I still struggle with it. I am excited to see the training plan set forth for Leadville, I am really excited to learn from it and see where it will take me. I have to admit, I would like to drop about 10-12 pounds. I hover at 170-172lbs. at 5’8” and although I have gotten much leaner, my weight has not changed much. I am sure I can find a way to eat a few dozen less cookies and drop some dough off myself........................z