Before his passing, my father had horrible circulation in his legs following a hunting accident. He was often only even remotely close to not being in excruciating pain when his legs were wrapped in compression socks. He told me that keeping the blood from pooling in his feet was just one way he would help his legs try to heal themselves. I now simply wear compression clothing all the time to keep me as healthy as possible.
While you will catch me wearing compression socks during a race, to me the real benefit comes after and before race day. Whether it is on a plane or in a car for long periods of time traveling to the race venue or if it is doing a book signing at an expo where I have to stand for hours, my legs and feet would be aching ten times more if I wasn’t enveloping them in compression to keep the blood circulating and moving around.
But even on race day, especially with the much longer distance, I have found the compression helps as well. When I won the Ironhorse 50 mile race in 2010, I was wearing compression socks. For the entire length of the 202 mile running of the American Odyssey Relay I was either wearing compression socks or sleeves. Heck, in virtually every triathlon I did last year, I was wearing compression socks. Part of my reasoning for wearing the socks in those triathlons that was for the steadiness feeling they gave me during the race and part of it was so I already had socks on when I hit the bike and run portions. With the tightness of the socks on my feet I knew I wasn’t going to kick out of them in the swim and they also kept my toesies warm in some very chilly water (48 degrees for Boise 70.3). As I push the limits of what my body can do, I want to have all the help I can get form my gear.
For me, when I am kicking back at home after an event, I have found it is just as important to be wearing compression on my legs as it is prior to the event. With so little time in between adventures, I need to make sure I am taking advantage of every moment to heal and get ready to tackle the next race. As I tackled 350 miles of running in one week in April as I run the entire coast of Oregon you can bet that I almost virtually lived in compression sleeves, socks, shirts and shorts. As the miles wear on and the legs get sore, I know I will be doing everything I can to make sure that the next step feels as good as possible by taking care of the legs which will get me there.