Some runners swear that compression socks or calf sleeves allow them to run longer before the fatigue sets in. Some runners say it’s all in the head. There are those who claim that compression allows them to run faster and stronger.
And then there are those who say that those runners are simply looking to justify an inadequate race time:
Runner #1: “Good job on your 1:25:56 half marathon time.”
Runner #2: “Epic failure on my part. If only I hadn’t left my compression socks in the car. I could have done it in 1:10:21. Easily”
Runner #1 [Stifling a laugh] “For sure.”
And so I consciously chose to spend my running budget on wiser purchases (like running skirts).
But then a pair of Lorpen Compression Calf Sleeves ($34.99) showed up in the mail one day. I gave them a shot. My experience was all over the board.
On shorter runs, like six miles or shorter, I felt no noticeable difference in speed, endurance or post-run recovery. On longer runs, between six miles and ten, I think I noticed increased endurance.
On between ten miles and eighteen miles, I definitely noticed a shorter recovery time post-run.
At the 10-mile Solomon CityTrail Loppet race, I ran 4:51 minutes faster on a rocky, rooty, hilly narrow trail than I did one year ago at the Get in Gear 10-mile run on flat asphalt.
When I crossed the finish line of the CityTrail Loppet, I didn’t feel like throwing myself in front of a train to numb the post-run muscle soreness. (To be clear, I didn’t feel like turning around and running another ten miles, either. )
Was the increased endurance and shorter post-run recovery on my training runs a result of the Lorpen Compression Calf Sleeves or just the perception that they were helping? Were the calf sleeves the source of my 10-mile race PR on a tougher trail or was it that monster bowl of angel hair pasta the night before?
Whatever the source (enhancement or placebo) I’m now aligned with the believers.
I have one final observation: I tried some compression socks and didn’t like them because they didn’t give me the fit, comfort or naturally anti-microbial and moisture-wicking properties of good Merino wool running socks.
Turns out that I only like the compression calf sleeves because I get the compression where I need it while still wear my favorite socks.