When compression became the “next big thing” for long distance runners about 5 years ago I was a bit skeptic. Would extra tight socks really help with recovery and blood flow? Would these expensive calf sleeves really make me a better runner? On one hand I was a believer – compression was used in the medical field so it had to have some benefits. On the other hand it felt like a stretch – it was used in hospital beds and wheelchairs on people who were immobile. By default runners had blood rushing through their veins, would compression really affect that?
Photo credit to Chris Martin @inspireason
My skepticism disappeared on a Saturday morning when I actually felt the compression work. I was running my first time based ultra, the Palmer Lake 24 Hour Fun Run [LINK: http://runaroundaroo.com/2014/03/31/palmer-lake-24-hour-fun-run-pdr/]. A few friends and I impulse registered the night before even though we were only available for the first 7 hours. Our goal was to run as many miles as possible around the 0.82 mile loop before we had to head back to town for dinner plans. I covered the first 20 miles with a happy, bouncing body…but that was all my right calf wanted. It started getting cranky and knotting up. Once I hit my 26th mile I gave in and took a breather to roll out my leg but it didn’t do much. A few laps later I decided to swap out my standard issue low cut socks for my neon yellow Zensah Compression Socks. I wasn’t fully convinced they would change anything but what did I have to lose?!
The compression socks changed everything! Within 20 minutes my calf was back in the game as if it had forgotten about the previous 30 miles of running! This was the moment I became a believer. Compression really works!
Since this race I have worn compression for nearly every race. The only race I did NOT wear compression was my North Fork 50M [LINK: http://runaroundaroo.com/2014/06/30/north-fork-50m-recap/] …and that was only because I didn’t want weird tan lines on my calves for a wedding I was standing up in the following weekend. Did my body notice I wasn’t rocking the neon Zensah compression? Well, that was by far my least favorite and most painful race to date [yea, even worse than the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile [LINK: http://runaroundaroo.com/2014/09/19/my-first-100-mile-ultra-rrr100/] where I completely jacked my Achilles tendon]. The majority of my pain during that race was from the knees down, so yea, I do believe my body was well aware of the fact I left the compression at home!
Now that I had whole heartedly jumped on the compression bandwagon I was on the hunt for more compression…ideally something that would help my weak hips + tight hamstrings get on board with longer miles. Turns out Zensah has something for that too – compression tights + capris + shorts! To date I’ve only worn their compression capris but the leggings are on my wish list!
Why am I head over heels in love with the compression capris?! Because the compression works, they are comfortable and they look good! I’m a tall girl with long legs…aka, finding capris that are the “right” length is hard! The Zensah compression capris fit the bill – they fall just below my knee, don’t bunch in my “knee pit” and don’t ride up anywhere! Plus, at NO point have I felt like a “stuffed sausage” while wearing these capris…which is saying a lot based upon my previous experience with compression pants.
Oddly enough I have rarely worn these compression capris while running longer distances, primarily because they get toasty warm and I love my go-to booty shorts. However, with the temperatures dropping these capris are going to be put to good use! I’m not going to lie – before I got on board with compression working for recovery + performance I owed multiple pairs of compression socks just because they were so warm in the winter! Now that winter has finally arrived in Colorado these capris will be worn on the trails, layered with snowboarding pants and packed along for hut trips.
So, if winter just arrived when have I been wearing these capris?! Everywhere. Seriously. I often pull them on after a long run and I have worn them to the gym for strength training on more than one occasion. But where I truly find he value in these Zensah compression capris is in every day wear. According to me these black capris 100% count as leggings, which in turn 110% count as pants! When my legs are feeling long, hard miles I’ll rock these capris with a cute tunic top + flats for a completely work appropriate outfit! I’ve also paired them with tall boots + sweater + scarf for an American Authors concert in Denver. Sure, it’s Denver and “outdoor apparel” is always acceptable but no one would have guessed I was wearing compression leggings meant for sweaty runs!
Ultimately, I love the Zensah Compression Capris and their versatility. Sure, the compression works but what good is compression if you can’t wear it when you truly need to recover? I love bright colors and flashy designs but I’ve come to truly appreciate the simple black capris and their ability to fit into my every day life.