Chasing 42

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Archive for the tag “training”

Gear Review: Zoot Ultra 2.0 CRx Compression Socks

I’ve been wearing compression socks/calf sleeves for several years now as a training and recovery tool. Although the science behind compression gear is still up in the air, I can’ argue with the freshness in my legs during longer runs, and the decreased recovery time afterwards. They just seem to work really well for me. Others will say they don’t notice a difference, or perhaps you only wear them during or only afterwards. It’s funny how many routines and idiosyncrasies runners develop, isn’t it?

My commitment to compression socks means I’m always on the look out for the opportunity to try a new brand or style, to see if I notice a distinct difference. Lately, I’ve been using the Smartwool PhD Run Graduated Compression Light socks, and I’ve really enjoyed them. The level of compression is not overwhelming, which means I don’t notice them while I’m running, but certainly notice the effect afterwards. However, as you’ve so keenly observed, this is not a review of Smartwool socks 🙂

I’m always on the lookout for a solid deal, and my favorite go-to gear site, The Clymb, was having a sale on Zoot running gear. I’d always associated Zoot more with tri-gear, but the price was right, so I pulled the trigger and ordered two pairs of the Ultra 2.0 CRx compression socks.

Zoot 1

Out of the box, I was impressed with the anatomically correct fit for each foot. I accidentally put the left sock on my right foot, and I could notice the difference. They were characteristically tight to pull on, as any pair of compression socks should be, and I always feel like I’m wrestling with them. This can be a challenge early in the morning, when my brain isn’t quite awake yet!

Zoot 2

Fit: Overall, I was very happy with the fit of the socks. They were true to size, although I did have to fold over the top a bit, so they wouldn’t be bunching up behind my knees. I’ve found this to be the case with other compression socks, so it’s entirely possible my legs are just a bit shorter than normal. I’ll add it to the list, I guess! There were no noticeable seams inside or outside the socks that would cause blisters down the road, and they hugged my feet and calves nicely. I noticed the graduated compression (18-30 mm Hg) a bit more in these socks than in previous brands, but they were still comfortable.

Compression: After a 20 mile run, these socks certainly fit the bill for compression effectiveness. My legs were feeling delightfully fresh, and I needed very little recovery time, aside from my normal stretching and rolling routine post-run. I was particularly impressed by how consistent the compression seemed. I noticed them hugging my calves more during the entire run than other brands, but this extra compression was a welcomed-reminder that they were working. I had no skin impressions after taking them off, as can sometimes happen if a small seam is misplaced or the socks don’t fit correctly.

Comfort: The socks are heavy enough, and provide a nice amount of padded cushion at the heel and toe. I’m not a fan of the thinner socks and tend to develop blisters when I wear them, so I was happy with the weight of the material. Zoot claims they offer increased Achilles tendon support, which I didn’t necessarily notice but may become more aware of as I wear them longer. I’ve yet to develop any hot spots on my toes or feet, which is a welcome relief as well.

These socks are definitely proving to be a worthwhile investment and seem durable enough as well. I haven’t had them long enough to comment on how they hold up to repeated use and washing, but I’ll definitely be putting them through the paces over the next few months! So, if you are looking for a comfortable compression sock for training or recovery, I would definitely suggest giving the Zoot Ultra 2.0 CRx a look.

It's surprisingly difficult to take a picture of yourself wearing a sock!

It’s surprisingly difficult to take a picture of yourself wearing a sock!

Have you tried these socks? Have you tried other compression socks/gear? Do you have any brand suggestions?

Maintaining my Endurance

Over the past 4+ months, I trained more than I had ever trained before. My mileage was higher than it had ever been, my legs were stronger than they had ever been, and I felt great. After the trail ultra, I gave myself somewhat of a break (if you call running a 1/2 marathon the next weekend a break), and didn’t push my training too hard during normal weekly routes. I’ve also committed to cycling more this summer in preparation for RAGBRAI, as well as the fact that it gives my legs a break from the impact of running.

However, it occurred to me in the past week just how much I liked being at the fitness level I was at, having trained successfully for an ultra-marathon. I enjoy the runner’s high I get every time I get back from a run. I enjoy tracking my distance and coming up with new and creative routes to mix up my routine. So, although I don’t have a huge number of races planned for the summer months, and there aren’t as many longer distance races within driving distance anyway, I’ve decided to commit myself to maintaining my training level. I will continue to push, between running and cycling, to keep my endurance levels up so that I could theoretically head out at a moments notice any weekend to run a marathon, or even more!

Photo Credit:

Some of you probably think this is a tad crazy, and lord knows training for this past race was crazy enough, but training continues to give me a sense of organization and control in my life that I enjoy a great deal. By throwing in cycling, I probably won’t run as many miles as I had been, but this just means I’m working my body more completely. It also means spending more time (via cycling) with friends and a wonderful partner, which is always a bonus!

With this new motivation and goal in mind, I hit the ground running this week (well, more like hit the road cycling). I road 50 miles for the first time this past Monday, which I felt great about. Although I enjoyed that fact that I could say I had run further than I had cycled at any given time, it felt great to know I was capable of longer distances, and that I can keep pushing myself. The gorgeous view from the High Trestle Trail bride, which rests 13 stories above the Des Moines River, didn’t hurt either! I followed that up with a 20-mile run yesterday with a good friend, which I felt a bit more sore afterwards than in the past (probably because I wasn’t cycling before!), but enjoyed immensely. There really is just something about heading out for a run or ride, and knowing you are comfortable enough that you could go just about anywhere. It’s very liberating, wouldn’t you say?

A view of the High Trestle Trail bridge from the Western side.

So, I may not be currently registered for another marathon or ultra-marathon (I’m planning my Fall race schedule right now), but I’m going to train like I am every week, and enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes along with it!

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