Thursday, 19 February 2009

Calf relief at last

I'm not one to tout fancy products and miracle cures -- in fact, I believe in limiting the number of absolute musts in training as it just makes life hard when you suddenly find yourself in a race running out of your special drink mix, missing your lucky hat, or whatever -- but 2XU Calf Guards are awesome.

After running low mileage but injury-free for years, I stepped up my training a few years back when I moved to the Netherlands and joined a local triathlon club for the first time. Track workouts every Tuesday night (winter and summer, rain and shine, cold and hot) is great training if you can hack it, but I obviously couldn't as I ended up with severe shin splints in February of 2007 that took more than 2 months to heal. Two months off from running is a long time to think about how you never want to be injured like that again!

So since then I've been very very careful to build up my mileage slowly, rotate through several pairs of shoes, and run on soft ground lots. I also invested in The Stick and a boyfriend to help torture, er, massage my calves but it always seemed like I was just barely staying ahead of the injury curve. If I got lazy and missed a few days of my preventative massage, my calves would tighten up and my shins would start threatening to go on strike again. I lived in constant fear that this chronic injury would return and snuff out my running and triathlon career forever. Well, that's a bit overdramatic, but it certainly wasn't making running any fun, worrying that every little twinge would turn into something bigger.

I thought I might be stuck with this condition for life, but having seen various triathlete teammates (and pros!) looking rather foolish running around in knee-high compression socks, I thought I should get serious about trying some. 2XU makes a version without the actual sock part, which suits me as I'm a bit fussy about socks (see absolute musts, above, *sigh*) so I picked up some XS size for £25 at my local tri store two weeks ago. Since then, I've worn them for nearly 70km and it's been like going back in history to a time when I just put on my shoes and ran, blissfully unaware that shin splints even existed.

I was sort of underwhelmed when I first put them on, as they don't feel much different at all -- just a sort of nice, warm, bundled up feeling in my lower legs. But they must be doing something because I feel faster, lighter, more flexible and way less fragile than I have in a long time. In fact, now I'm afraid to run without them... add another item of the list of things I can't do without.

Of course, I've still got The Stick and the boyfriend doing their thing as added insurance, but I feel a season of PBs coming on. Might have to invest in a white pair for hot weather triathlons though and it'll be like the 80s all over again with my knee-high white socks. Thankfully I'm in my mid-thirties so I remember the 80s with pleasant nostalgia -- and I really don't care if I look silly anymore, as long as I win.


Anonymous said...

You wore white knee-high socks? hmm, we might have to reconsider the whole boyfriend thing if you do that again.

Anonymous said...

I have a pair of these and I think they are great. It's hard to tell if they do much (for me) but I never had any calf issues in running races and recovery was better. I do feel a little sill in them though. It's funny I have to admit - when I won a half marathon last year everyone was asking me about my funny socks. Everyone wants an edge...nothing beats training!


maryka said...

Blaine, definitely! For me, I'm just looking for the edge that lets me train harder and better, and if silly-looking socks get me there, well so be it!