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Why Run in Compression Pants?

Skeptics believe compression gear falls into the placebo effect category. But still, even if the benefits turn out to be all in our heads, I’ve yet to meet an athlete who wouldn’t embrace any kind of confidence-booster.

(These are the women’s leaders in the Houston Olympic marathon trials, rocking those compression socks!!)Training for a distance event is all about consist

Training for a distance event is all about consistency, which means finding the tools that will help you to recover faster and stay injury free.

It seems some of the hype about running faster or farther might just be true when you look at the LONG term impact of using compression gear, rather than the impact on a single run.

Which is exactly what a brand new study found:

Anew studyprovides scientific evidence to support the idea that your compression socksare not just fashionable, they’re also functional. The study, published in the February issue of theJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research,found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after running a marathon improved performance on a treadmill test two weeks later.

In fact, a few brands have conducted a number of studies as well and here is what they found:

  • increases venous return
  • reduces exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD)
  • accelerates recovery processes
  • removes lactic acid faster
  • increases strength and power
  • improves endurance
  • increases muscle oxygenation
  • improves body temperature control
  • reduces in-flight ankle oedema (swelling)

MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS ✅Best race day compression tights: help prevent calf cramps and keep my muscles going as my form may deteriorate in the final miles

Best compression tights for IT Band pain: I have sworn by this style for years and you’ll often see me running in them during training as I boost mileage.

**GENTLEMEN** I did a post just for you on the best running pants for men. And yes those two are on it, but in case you’d like  more ideas.

Specific recommendations for compression socks and sleeves below!

My friend and frequent marathon racer Monica Olivas agrees that compression socks have become a standard recovery tool for her, ensuring she can keep racing week after week.

Plus, we know that running is about so much more than science! It’s a mental sport.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why spend more on a pair of running pants?

You don’t have to splurge on a pair of running pants or go over the budget as many different styles of affordable pants are available on the market. Choose one that fulfills the criteria and fits your body. The pants that you buy should be durable and justify the money spent. 

What is the best material for running pants?

The best material for running pants is nylon, polyester, merino wool, or a blend of one or more with some other material. Moisture-wicking fabric with soft fibers and flexibility will provide maximum advantage to a runner. 

Do you wear shorts with running tights? 

Running tights usually fit snugly. If the material is very thin, it cannot protect you against the wind. Most of these are transparent at the same time. That is why you should wear a pair of shorts with the tights.

Should I wear underwear with my running tights or pants?

Tights are usually made of thin material that fits snugly. The synthetic fabric is see-through most of the time. It is advisable to wear underwear with running tights. Some pants come with an inner lining and adequate support, so you may avoid wearing the same. 

What are the benefits of running tights vs. pants?

The flexibility of tights will help run more smoothly. They fit snugly and help to keep the legs warm, in addition to providing muscle compressions. Tights are stretchy and flexible and can be layered with shorts and even pants. Running pants tend to be more comfortable. But at times, their loose movement hinders running faster. Also, loose pants may not protect you against wind and rain. 

Running Hydration Packs / Race Vests

As you begin to run further and end up being on the trails for longer periods of time, you’ll need to take more trail running accessories with you, like some running nutrition or snacks, water, jacket, plus your phone and keys etc.

A running hydration pack is the best way to carry all these items and more in the most comfortable and efficient manner. You’ve probably seen trail runners wearing these running backpacks with soft water bottles carried on their chest and wondered why these are so popular!

Not sure where to start when it comes to working out which size and brand is best for you? Don’t worry, we have done all the research for you and have created a running hydration pack guide that is regularly updated with the 5 best packs for trail and ultrarunning.

Running Clothes

Trail Running Shirt

If you’re new to trail running and/or don’t have the budget to go out and buy trail-running-specific tops, then you’ll be fine for most runs in normal running gear, assuming it is made of technical (ie not cotton) fabric and is designed to sweat in.

The key thing to remember when choosing a top (or tops) to wear trail running is that the weather conditions may well change while you are out.

For this reason, on longer runs in particular, layers are important, so you can use your clothing to help keep you warm/cool, depending on the situation. I normally wear a running shirt or vest made out of technical, sweat-wicking fabric.

Waterproof Running Jacket

In certain countries, this is definitely a key item to invest in! It’s important to understand that many running jackets are water-resistant, and not fully waterproof. They may say they’re water-resistant or ‘weather-proof’ on the label if they’re not fully waterproof.

If a running jacket is ‘water resistant’, this means that it can handle a bit of rain, and are often windproof, but for any heavy rain or prolonged exposure, the jacket will start to soak through and you end up thoroughly wet, running around in a wet jacket with wet clothes underneath.

This means you should focus on ensuring you’re buying a waterproof running jacket not just a water or weather-resistant one. A great waterproof running jacket should:

  • be fully waterproof (not just water-resistant).
  • be lightweight.
  • have some level of breathability.
  • be form-fitting.

Luckily though, we have done all the testing and research for you. Here our list of the top 5 waterproof running jackets.

Trail Running Shorts

Many mens and womens trail-running shorts come with built-in ‘pants’ so you don’t need to wear underwear with them.

A pair of running shorts will need specific features to be suitable to wear trail running – here are the ones to look for:

  • Stretchy, to allow for a full range of leg movement, to help with technical terrain and scrambling
  • Water repellent and quick drying – and never made of cotton!
  • Made of robust technical fabric that will not just rip at the first touch of a thorn, branch or rock
  • Made with at least one zip-up pocket, in a location that won’t bounce (the lower back is best).

Running Tights, Pants or Leggings

Running tights are particularly good in cold weather, although I generally prefer to run in shorts when it’s warm enough to do so. Compression running tights are also a great option for training. Here’s our list of the top 5 running tights for cold weather running.

Similar to when you’re choosing the best running shorts and tops for you, do the same when selecting a pair of running tights: look at fabric, fit and features.

Running Socks for Trail Running

No-show (aka ‘tab’) running socks are a popular choice by many runners as they look nice and minimal.

If you’re going to be running on trails with a lot of stones, sticks and debris, then you may prefer socks that cover your ankles, as this provides a bit of padding if you kick a stone onto your ankle, and reduces the amount of mud, sticks and stones that end up in your sock during a trail run.

Like with the trail running tops and shorts/skirts/leggings, make sure you’re running in technical, sweat-wicking fabric that will help keep you comfortable and dry, and reduce the risk of chafing and blisters. This means ensuring you buy socks designed to be worn running, rather than regular everyday or athletic socks.

What Not to Wear During a Run

Now that you know what to look for in good running gear, you should also be advised of features to avoid.

100% Cotton

Cotton is a big no-no for runners because once it gets wet, it stays wet, which can be uncomfortable in warmer weather and dangerous in cold weather. Your skin is also more likely to chafe if you're wearing cotton. Avoid cotton gear and cotton socks.

Sweatpants

Yes, this re-emphasizes the “no cotton” rule, but it's worth repeating. Sweatpants and sweatshirts were once popular cold-weather running attire. But with the advent of running clothes made from technical fabrics, sweats are considered "old school" among runners. They are fine for short runs, especially when worn as an outer layer, but will usually not be comfortable for a longer run.

Running clothes made from technical fabrics wick away sweat and keep you dry. If you wear cotton sweats for a cold outdoors run, you're going to get wet, stay wet, and then get chilled. Not only could this be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, but your running performance will likely suffer as well.

Sweats are great for lounging around the house after a run, but if you want to feel comfortable and look sharp for your cold outdoor runs, stick to running tights, pants, and shirts made from technical fabrics.

Heavy Layers

When running in cold weather, don’t wear a thick coat or shirt. If the layer is too thick, you’ll overheat, sweat too much, and then get chilled when you take it off. You’re much better off dressing in thin, wicking layers so you won’t sweat excessively and you can easily remove a layer and tie it around your waist ​when you start to get warm.

It is also smart to avoid overly thick socks. Your feet swell when you run, especially during hot, summer runs. If you wear thick running socks, your toes will rub up against the front of your shoes and you’ll be at risk for black toenails.

Worn Out Shoes

Running in old or worn-out running shoes can lead to running injuries. Over time, your running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning and stability. Running in worn-out shoes increases the stress and impact on your legs and joints, which can cause overuse injuries. 

Be aware of the signs your running shoes need to be replaced. One of the best things you can do to prevent running injuries is to replace your shoes every 200 to 250 miles. You may also consider using two pairs of running shoes, rotating in a new pair when your old pair is about half-way through its lifespan.

New Gear on Race Day

Race day is not the time to experiment with a new pair of running shoes, running shorts, or a new sports bra. You should be trying out new clothes and shoes during your training runs and then stick with your tried-and-true favorites that you know are comfortable.

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Does compression gear prevent DOMS (delayed on set muscle soreness)?

William Kraemer, professor of kinesiology in the Neag School of Education, induced delayed onset muscle soreness through an eccentric resistance training protocol in 20 female participants.

Immediately after the muscle damaging protocol the women were divided into two groups, one group wore a compression garment for 5 days while the other group received no treatment. The results indicated that compression garments facilitated recovery of muscle strength and power and resulted in significantly less perceived muscle soreness.

Really, Amanda, will it help me? I have been recommending it to my athletes for years now! I don’t expect it to make them rapidly faster or stronger, but I have seen it improve recovery which keeps their training on track and that leads to results!

Do you use compression gear?

Socks, pants, shorts? All of the above!

Other ways to connect with Amanda Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish

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