Marathon Training Week 8 : Compression Clothing for Recovery

17 Jul

11 weeks to go…

This last week of training was actually a great week of training. Here’s how it went

My Plan

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What Actually Happened

For once it all went according to plan (except for the long run but I’ll get to that). I took my sprints out on the road on Wednesday morning. I need to start running back on the road again and it was difficult to decide between the Wednesday sprints or the Friday tempo run; Wednesday being faster and shorter compared to Friday being longer and slower. Since I’m not back to full speed yet, I opted for the short of the two distances. The “sprints” went well although I did have a little pain in my shins afterwards which my physiotherapist got to work on later that day.   The tempo run on Friday was a little more difficult; running 50+ laps of the school soccer field might have had something to do with or the 5:30am start. Either way I felt low in energy and sluggish all the way through the run. I still managed a reasonable pace of 6:26 min/km but I was sure glad to have a quiet day at work and a quiet night at home that day.

Underperforming on Friday filled me with a little “performance anxiety” as I headed out at 6:30am on Sunday for my 18km run.  It was a beautiful morning down at the rugby field in Meyrin, the sun had just popped up above the buildings and it was sure to be a gloriously hot summer’s day. My Garmin had some technical difficulties for the first two laps but then it righted itself and I had found a good slow pace. I was forcing myself to maintain a 6:20 min/km – 6:30 min/km pace to ensure I could make the 18km without causing further injury to my shins. It was hard at the start to keep it slow but I finally got myself into a rhythm after 2 or 3 kilometers. That was when the panic set in. I need to use the bathroom. In my previous half-marathon training I suffered (serveral times) with a bad case of the runners trots (I’ll let you look that one up if you haven’t heard the term before). This was when I was running on a Sunday afternoon during the time when I would normally need to use the bathroom. At 7am on Sunday morning however, this was very unexpected. I pushed through until 9km and by that time it was a tale of desperation. Fortunately there are public toilets right next to the rugby field so I made use of them before continuing my run in complete freedom. I am yet to figure out exactly what the problem is and how I can solve this issue but it does haunt me every time I go on a long run. Moving right along, I finished the 18km in 1h53mins with an average pace of 6:19 min/km. I was definitely happy with that and I thoroughly enjoyed a little bit of gelato in the afternoon, yum!

Compression Garments

If you remember from last week, I mentioned that my husband had ordered some compression calf sleeves for me. Well they arrived and I’ve been wearing them every run since. I have had a pair of 2XU Compression Tights for recovery for over a year now and they are fabulous.

The Science – But first, here’s the science behind compression clothing. Compression garments are designed in such a way as to mimic muscle contractions which enhances circulation which in turn delivers more oxygenated blood to your muscles. With an increase in bloodflow to the muscles, lactic acid and the like, are flushed from the muscles to help reduce fatigue (or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and decrease recovery time. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or “DOMS” for short is basically the pain you get in your muscles the day after or two days after excercising. There have been many studies done on compression clothing and at the end of the day it’s 50/50 for and against the effectiveness of compression in recovery. Now that I am using compression sleeves during my runs and compression tights for recovery it is hard to say whether the sleeves have helped with my sore legs or whether my legs are just getting stronger. It is interesting to think about now that I am writing it all out.

Recovery Experience – One thing for sure is that the compression tights do, 100%, aid in speeding up recovery time as I have had more than 12 months of experience with this. I religiously put them on straight after my long runs and wear them around the house for 5 or 6 hours, sometimes overnight, and the next morning is like waking up with new legs so I definitely recommend them for those that struggle for a few days after a long run; consider adding some compression tights to your kit. They are immensely difficult to get on and off because they are soo tight but they are well worth the effort (and the cost).

Sizing & Fit – These tights need to fit tightly for them to work, as the 2XU sizing guide states “your 2XU Compression garment should fit the body snugly and firmly without uncomfortably ‘cutting in’ to the body”. I’m 155cm (5’2) tall and about 50kg, i.e. midget, and I have the tights in an XS which is a perfect fit and in line with the 2XU sizing guide. My husband is 175cm tall and around 65kg and owns the tights in a S, also a perfect fit. If you are trying them on instore, do not be tempted to go for a larger size if you are struggling to put them on, it can be quite tricky (particularly for the blokes) and it does take some practice.

Durability – The 2XU compression tights are also very durable. Both my husband and I wear our compression tights at least once a week for hours at a time and more often in the winter months and they look and feel the same as when we bought them.

Which Brand? – There are basically 4 brands that you will find when you hit the shops in search of compression clothing; 2XU, SKINS, BodyScience and Odlo (for those in Europe). You can expect to pay chf100+ instore however sites like Amazon or Wiggle will often have a better deal for you. We decided on 2XU because they are developed in association with the Australian Institute of Sport and I had previously worn their triathlon garments a few years back when I participated in a Corporate Triathlon Challenge in Melbourne.

Have you had any experience with compression clothing? If so, was it good/bad/otherwise? Tell me about it!

Well that’s all I have time for this week. Stay tuned next Monday for my weekly marathon training report.

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