There’s a trail in my town that I love. It’s called the Ma and Pa trail, short for Maryland and Pennsylvania, I think. It’s partially paved, partially gravel, and it goes through the woods with some winding bridges.
And it’s really hilly.
This is great, except there’s one problem. It’s so hilly that I’ve never been able to do long runs on it. I attempted a 16- and 18-miler on it a few years ago, and since then I’ve told a lot of people that my body just can’t handle that distance on this trail.
Yesterday, though, I broke through that barrier. In my first “official” training run for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler in eight weeks, I ran 21 miles on the Ma and Pa.
What made the difference?
Mostly, the fact that I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve run two ultras this year, haven’t been injured in over a year, and my diet is cleaner than it has ever been.
But partially, I think it was the socks.
CEP Compression Socks
Compression socks (for use while running, not just after) first appeared on my radar when I saw Blaine Moore of Run to Win wearing them in a race. And then I started seeing them at lots of races.
They look kind of ridiculous, so I doubt people are wearing them as a fashion statement. Could they really make that big a difference to your running?
I was so excited when CEP Sportswear offered to send me a pair of their compression socks and compression sleeves to review. (The sleeves are for your legs, not your arms as I first thought.) CEP’s socks offer graduated compression, and they’re sized based on shoe size and calf size. And get this: According to CEP, there’s a published medical study showing that runners in CEP compression socks experienced 5% better performance, which equates to 10-12 minutes in a marathon!
Let me tell you, I am really impressed at how well these work. Even as I’ve become a stronger runner, runs of 18 miles or more always end with my feet and legs hurting and feeling really heavy. Running in compression socks, I don’t get any of that!
Sure, I still get tired by the end. But there’s not that discomfort, and I think that’s so important. Even if you can run through the pain, I really believe that so much of running long is about eliminating stressors to your mind and body. And pain is a major one.
Of the socks and sleeves, I prefer the sleeves. They don’t have a “foot” to them, so you can wear whatever sock you want. And if you need to change shoes and socks, like I’m sure I will after I run through a few streams during my 50-miler, you can do so without taking the sleeve off. (If the foot part of the sock provides any additional benefit, I didn’t notice it.)
Can they really make you run faster?
Without a lot of testing on my own, that’s hard to say. But based on how I feel running in them, it would be strange to think that wouldn’t translate into better performance on race day.
I’m almost certain that I’ll wear these during part or all of my 50-miler. Whether they make me run faster or not, they’ll make me more comfortable. And if I’m going to spend a Sunday running that freaking far, then I’ll take whatever comfort I can get. And I’d highly recommend them to anyone else who experiences foot or leg discomfort as the miles add up.
CEP offers compression wear for all different sports, not just running. Check out their products page to learn more. Thanks, CEP!
And while we’re talking about socks…
I figured I’d also mention another pair of socks I just got: Injinji toe socks! I paid my own hard-earned money for these, mainly so that I could wear them with my Vibram FiveFingers, to avoid the nasty blisters on my instep that the VFF’s give me. But I’ve also heard that they’re great for avoiding blisters in regular shoes, since by separating your toes from one another, they prevent the skin from rubbing.
Anyway, I’ve worn them twice. They worked out great on the track in the VFF’s, and on the trail in my trail shoes. Maybe one day I’ll pair them with the CEP sleeves for the dream combo.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Get out there for one more run before it’s over!
P.S. No baby yet. Any day now…