Category Archives: Compression Gear

Trail Running : a good way to clear your head and make new friends…

What do you do if a horse is standing in the middle of the trail you’re running on? Stop to pat it and take photos of course! While at the same time keeping it from stealing your energy drink…

Today my girlfriend and I were up in Doncaster for the funeral of her grandfather who sadly passed away last week. Needless to say it has been an emotional week for my girlfriend and in some respects I’ve experienced some of the ‘overflow’. However, there is nothing like a run to clear your head and get some focus, so this morning I went out for a 12km trail run.

doncaster-trail-run

Last night we stayed with my girlfriend’s aunt and uncle at their house in Sprotbrough, right on the banks of the River Don. This gave me the means and excuse to head out off the tarmac and onto the trail along the river this morning. I didn’t have a map, but I’d looked on Google maps before I went out to get an idea of distance and route and headed out. Of course, the first thing I did after getting onto the trail was take a wrong turn at a fork which resulted in me crossing over the A1 on a footbridge and ending up in a field if beets. However, I could see the river half a mile away so followed the tractor marks through the beets to the river.

Not much of a designated trail, but a trail nonetheless. And no, I don't know if they're really beets, they just looked like it to me...

Not much of a designated trail, but a trail nonetheless. And no, I don’t know if they’re really beets, they just looked like it to me…

After a ‘delicate’ negotiation of a barbed wire fence I was on the riverside track and headed off. A few wrong turnings and a backtrack or two and I found myself popping out back at the top of the field of beets! I’d made myself a little 4km trail circuit!

doncaster-trail-run-aerial-image

If you wish to see the run for ‘real’ – clicking on the Image will take you to the Garmin Player

Now knowing the ‘right’ route I skipped back over the A1 footbridge, took the correct turning at the fork and found the stairs down to the river (much better than risking the barbed wire fence again) and headed back out on the trail. On the second circuit I was able to keep a tempo pace up because a) I knew the route and b) I wasn’t stopping every 5 minutes to take a photo of beets, cows, ducks or whatever. Until the horse of course (of course…)

I know these are cows, not a horse. Cows don't really do much do they...

I know these are cows, not a horse. Cows don’t really do much do they…

I had just entered a new field and had run around the corner to find a horse grazing in the middle of the track. He looked up as I approached, but didn’t seem concerned about me, so I kept approaching and slowed to a walk. Seeing that the horse was friendly, and pretty much ambivalent about my presence I went up to it and gave it a pat on the head and a scratch on the neck. This was fine until he smelled my energy drink. I had spilled some on my hand and he could obviously smell the sugar! Suddenly he was pushing and shoving with outstretched neck and lips puckering for my bottle. Greedy little bugger! Anyway, in this merry little dance we’d managed to turn around and I found myself on the other side of him, with an empty track in front of me. Seizing this opportunity I bid ‘adieu’ to Mr Ed and went on my way with an extra photo for the blog and horse saliva all over my arm!

Mr Ed, before he found out I had an energy drink with me...

Mr Ed, before he found out I had an energy drink with me…

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. A bridge, some cows, some people walking their dogs, a lock, and 2km at threshold pace to finish off the run. I returned back to the house to find everyone had risen and breakfast was being prepared. I made excuses for a quick shower because, lets face it, no one deserves to sit next to a smelly sweaty runner at breakfast. Especially not one with horse spit down one arm and mulberry stains across his white (stupid choice for a trail run) tech shirt!

Disused rail bridge over the River Don

Disused rail bridge over the River Don

I’m starting to think the idea of a trail marathon is a good idea. Does anyone do trail races, and if so, what do you love about them?

A small p.s. – I found my 2XU calf guards really useful for my trail run. They stopped most things from scratching my shins, including mulberry bushes. But not stinging nettles. Definitely not stinging nettles…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Running Gear : 2XU Calf Guards review part 2

The other day I posted a review about 2XU Calf Guards, and the initial impression they made on me.

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I have now done a long run in them (a 26km TLT session) and wanted to top-and-tail my review to take into account for my experiences of them during, and after a long distance run.

Generally speaking the same feeling I described in my first review of a ‘warm, snug, squeeze’ was present for the whole run, along with the delay in onset of muscle pain in my calf muscles, particularly in relation to my quads, hamstrings and hip flexors.

As in my previous run, I kept the 2XU calf guards on for an hour or so after the run to see what the recovery was like. It is in recovery that I think these calf guards make the most difference. As anyone who runs knows, hard runs always result in a bit of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). My TLT session was a hard run, and I was feeling it yesterday. Today, some 48 hours after my run was the worst stiffness and soreness, however my calf muscles were largely pain free!

Overall, I am very impressed with how much of a difference they make both during a run and afterwards. I’m not sure they would help you go faster, but I’m confident they help you go longer and with less time for recovery after long runs.

I will certainly be continuing my use of my 2XU calf guards, particularly on my long runs and races!

Do you use calf guards or other compression gear? What have been your results with them?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie
Get Going, Get Running!

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Running Gear : 2XU Calf Guards review

No, this isn’t a post about some new form of protecting livestock, I’m talking about the calf socks for running.

calf-guards-2XU

Well, they are a bit more technical than that, but that’s basically what they look like. Having seen more and more runners using calf guards, I figured I would give them a try to see if they really helped.

Why? Because I’ve always suffered from tight calf muscles and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know my tight calf muscles have been responsible for both my bouts of plantar fasciitis, as well as my current issue with shin soreness.

I have amended my gait to a mid-foot landing, under my centre of gravity, with greater rearward extension to engage my hamstrings and glutes for propulsion, thereby putting less strain on my calf muscles for the same speed. I have also continue with my static stretching and foam rolling at night, along with regular physio sessions; however my calf muscles remain very tight. Having seen a lot of people using calf guards, especially distance runners, I decided to bite the bullet and try them out. I did a bit of online research and stumped for the 2XU Calf Guards.

calf-guards-2XU-rear

2XU say that their calf guards are a great muscle containment device that can be worn during training or competition. They are engineered for active use with powerful fabrics offering unparalleled breathability, moisture management and flexibility to keep the wearer comfortable and focussed”  along with these additional benefits:

–      High power denier offers extra calf + shin support
–      Reduced muscle fatigue + damage
–      Flatlock seam construction
–      UPF50+ Sun Protection
–      Antibacterial 
–      Moisture wicking
First impression out of the box was “Are these really going to help me?” They look so simple and insubstantial that it’s hard to see how they could do anything – they look like a slip of fabric with some logos on them. Closer inspection reveals that they are shaped specifically to the profile of your calf, as well as having a cuff at the base and top to snugly fit and hold them in place. Oh, and those logos, they’re reflective so at night your legs will look like some demented video game to drivers.Putting them on was simple, just pull them up like socks until they are in place, making sure the logos are to the rear. The fit was good, and the compression seemed snug but not restrictive. The cuff at top and bottom were perfectly sized on my pair to hug onto the tapering part of the calf to keep them in place.

Out the door for my warm up and the first thing I noticed on the walk up the stairs was how my calf muscles felt ‘contained’ – I could feel the compression tightening as the muscle flexed. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was a different sensation to both bare legs or compression tights. After my warm-up I trotted off and for the first 50 yards I did notice that my calf muscles felt different. There seemed to be less shock and a certain ‘squeeze’ during the contact and push-off phases, however after that I got used to them and really stopped noticing them.

In fact, I stopped noticing them to the point that my calf muscles became conspicuous by their absence in my regular body scans. Hip flexors tightening, yep. Hmm, twinge in left ITB, change side of road. Hamstring tightening on right side, need to watch that. Calf muscles. Calf muscles? Nothing.

Just a sensation of warm, snug, squeeze.

As I pushed on to the end of my seven miles (at race pace) I became acutely aware that as my quad and hamstring pain increased, my calf muscles continued to be conspicuously absent on my pain scale. This was really interesting for me, because it’s normally the other way around for me. Sure, as I neared the end of my seven miles, I started to feel my calf muscles, but they weren’t getting as sore as my other muscles, nor at the same rate of pain increase. I kept them on for an hour after the run as well, and noticed the next day that my calf muscles showed less muscle soreness than my hamstrings and quads.

Overall, I was very impressed with how such a simple looking piece of kit could make such a dramatic difference to how I felt during my run and to my recovery. I will certainly be continuing my use of them, particularly on my long runs and races!

Do you use calf guards or other compression gear? What have been your results with them?

 

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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