Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dressin' With Compression

What defines a serious runner? It's safe to say the man pictured above is not, but they come in all shapes and sizes. A runner can be serious about their sport whether they're pulling 6-minute or 10-minute miles; it's defined by one's mindset. You've likely seen the countless racks of Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, and other brands' top running apparel lines. If you're even remotely serious about running, I encourage you jump on the bandwagon and try some compression gear. You'll likely be surprised what a piece of clothing can do for your mindset, performance, and goals.

Firstly, if you live in an area that receives frigid winter weather, running leggings or tights can greatly increase your ability to run through the brunt of the season. They keep you warmer and conserve heat better than would loose-fitting pants in the midst of strong, bone-chilling winds.

Compression gear exists in a large number of forms, including (but not limited to) leggings, long- or short-sleeved tops, arm sleeves, and calf sleeves. Although in a less obvious way, marathons not only serve as competitions, but also as running "fashion shows." It's likely you've seen many of these new items being sported at marathons by the elites running down the 26.2-mile runway of the course. If you saw Kara Goucher's 3rd place performance for the women at the most recent 2009 Boston Marathon, for example, you might remember her self-described "awesomely obnoxious" compression outfit complete with rather beastly arm sleeves (see picture at upper-right).

Because compression gear has become a widespread trend of the world-class, upper echelon of runners, mere mortals sometimes shy away from wearing such clothing for fear of appearing like a "wannabe." However, there are proven benefits to compression gear, like better muscle stability, less muscle fatigue and soreness, increased endurance, improved circulation and temperature regulation, reduced wind drag, and sun protection. Wanting to reap these benefits does not make someone a "wannabe" by any stretch of the imagination, so don't rob yourself because of self-consciousness.

Before you go out on a compression gear shopping spree, I suggest you evaluate your needs. For instance, if you live in a tropical climate that doesn't know the true meaning of winter or chilly temperatures, you likely won't be in need of tights and other compression gear designed for cold weather. "Compression" gear is also a wide term used to label a vast range of fabric qualities, variety of weaves, elasticity, durability, detailing, anti-microbial material, wicking performance, moisture management, and anti-allergens.

Prices also range greatly, depending on all of said factors. Such garments are almost always more expensive than their non-compression counterparts, so do a little research and read the tag before purchasing, as you want to spend money on practical things that are applicable to you personally.

If you're skeptical and determined to stand by your tried-and-true cotton or loose-fitting clothing, you will be no less of a runner because of it. But if you're looking to give yourself a little psychological and performance boost, or even just try something new, that compression gear at your local fitness store is just waiting for you to try it on.


  1. I love wick away material. I used to wear cotton shirts until my older brother introduced me to wick away shirts. I've never looked back! Do you own any compression gear that you can vouch for?

  2. I admit I've considered trying compression gear because Kara Goucher just looks so cool in them! :D

    I also regularly run in leggings during the winter months and they're super comfy and warm.

    Love your review! :D

  3. hey! clothing definitely makes a huge difference in running! Nothing like ice and airy running shorts, and an under armor top...and under armor spandex shorts! its funny- my nonrunner friends always make fun of me for wearing spandex pants and shorts in PUBLIC!! (GASP) but i think nothing of it- i love it- i really think it helps alot- and it helps mentally too- in my opinion anyway!

    definitely try out the green monster! my sister and I have a favorite mix: spinach, frozen banana, Vanilla unsweetened almond milk, and peanut butter (which has recently been organic naturally more! love that stuff) TRUST me you will not be disappointed! let me know if you try it out

    and about the larabars- i would try it out- the reason i love them is that they are so simple! there is nothing to them! the ingredients list for cherry pie lara bar is merely cherries, almonds, dates and cinnamon. period. thats it. that is my favorite flavor...that and apple pie. the only jocalat ive had is the coffee chocolate and i really enjoyed that one as well. Ive had the peanut butter cookie lara bar too and that is also good but probably not my fav. going from best to worst for me is (1) cherry pie (2) apple pie (3) jocolate choc coffee (4) peanut butter...but i still need to try others!!

  4. I see that you have the Stick as one of your favorite products. I have heard about it and seen it but have never tried one out. What body parts can be stretched/massaged using that? If you wouldn't mind telling me a little bit about it, that would be great!