Thursday, February 9, 2012

Compression Socks and Stranger Danger

I caved into the blog-pressure and got excited about the idea of compression socks.

If it's good enough for two of America's best female marathoners...then I'm sold. But I don't like running in speedos, so maybe Desi has it right on running gear...

I think there is a 50-50 split on whether these things are legit are totally placebo.

After CIM, a time when my quads and calves burned up more than any other body part, I thought why not give these sock things a try if they are supposed to help circulation....or....what are they supposed to do?  Help with recovery?

Well right before Christmas I spotted a Groupon-type deal, two compression socks from here for $35 dollars, maybe it was $40.  Either way it was about half off.

I said "xmas please" to my personal Santa (mom) and promptly received the Groupon.  Then I had to order them, and they arrived last week.


I didn't go out in public like this, no worries.  (oh wait...I actually think I did go food shopping in this outfit, with boots added)

I had been worried about buying a size "small" because my calves are fantastically large.  So large, in fact, that in my life I have been asked if I am a) a dancer b) a gymnast and c) a fitness instructor, because of my shapely calves.  It was also noted by the big man on campus in high school, a literally big basketball player, that my calves were bigger than his.  Fuck you, puny calf boy.*

Anyway.  I ordered the smalls.  On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most difficult), they were a 4 in terms of difficulty to get on.  4 is also a button up shirt when your hands are cold.  8 is tying your shoelaces in the middle of a soccer game when your hands are numb.  10 is Spanx.

Immediately I was concerned about how not-tight they were.

Then when I went on a run in them, I realized the horrible truth.

They were just socks.  $35 socks.  My calves could not have cared less, except for how nice it was to not have to soap my calves down after a run (I always end up with dirt on my inner calves.  You?)

*speaking of inappropriate things that people say to me without any solicitation, I want to briefly reveal to you that during my 3-5 runs each week around my neighborhood lake (Lake Merritt), I get talked to about 80% of the time.


1) There is this one guy who walk/runs around the lake almost every day.  I usually only see him on the weekends because he is out between, oh say, 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  He might not be all....there in the head.  I say this because whenever we cross each other while running, he stretches his arms out like he is an airplane and skips towards me, waving, and sometimes shouts things like "fast!"  At first he freaked me out, but after 3 years of rendezvous around the lake with him, I know his name is Robert, and he loves running unconditionally, and I smile and give him a thumbs up and go extra fast for him.

2) There are a few separate guys who walk in the weekday mornings and give me encouragement every time I run by.  "How many laps are you on!? Looking goooood girl. Go Kristen!" (Kristen's not my name, but at least one guy thinks it is).

3) Then there are the groups of 4-5 men who walk every morning between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m., they appear to be retired, wearing windbreakers or other sweatsuit outfits straight out of the 1980's.  They might smile but it's hard for me to acknowledge them because there are at least 5 groups of guys like this, and I'm embarrassed that I can't tell the groups apart, so I don't know who knows me and who doesn't.  But today, one group brought me to a halt.  "Hey -- hey! Are you on your second lap!?"

"yup.  I'll be starting my third soon."

"What?! Second lap?! We were all talking about how fast you are going!?  You must be under 30?  Are you a distance runner?  You've lost weight, you look like you've lost weight?"

That is what it sounds like when 5 guys ask questions at the same time.  All I got out was ", I've always looked like this", and then I ran on my merry way wondering which one of my extremities looked like it belonged to a weight-watchers graduate.  What in the balls?

4) And sometimes I just run into Merilee with her daughter.  Merilee caught this photo of her daughter, and me running around the lake in the background.

She's so lucky to grow up near this awesome neighborhood!

In conclusion AND in summary, most running encounters are very encouraging and friendly, and generally make me think that people in Oakland aren't used to seeing a white girl run hard.  Don't they know that Magdalena Lewy Boulet lives here?

Now onto my awesome football-less weekend.

If you live in the bay area, you may want to get thee to Commonwealth in Oakland.

Picture porn to show you why:

My curry egg-salad sandwich with mango chutney

Our shared "scotch" egg -- coated in sausage and crumbs

The Gentleman's shepard pie

Oh just the best scone I've ever had, with jam and clotted cream


Seriously great
Oh and I also got this trout salad.  I ate a lot.

After the above brunch, I managed to do something YOU have likely never accomplished: I bought two dresses while on a hike (see: above picture of me in compression socks for one of the dresses).

We walked about 8 miles round-trip to a mall in Emeryville so I could stop at See's candy, and to enjoy the beautiful day.  We popped into at Target to use a bathroom on our way to Emeryville...and...I walked out with two dresses for under $50.  I have more dresses than underwear.  Literally.  too much.

My...umm...See's candy stash.  Listen listen, See's doesn't sell stuff ANYWHERE but their stores, so when I'm at a store, I stock up.  I'm smart, not a hoarder.

Compression socks: Gimmick, or love it?

What's the most ridiculous thing a stranger has said to you while on a run?

Do you wanna come hang out and help me with my See's candy stash?


  1. How long was your run with the compression socks? I personally find that anything less than 10 miles, it doesn't make a difference, but when I ran my 20 milers with them, they helped sooooo much. They're also great for plane rides, leave your legs fresh, and they're helpful for post-long runs to recover (I tend to sleep in them the night after a long run).

    (Funny how I'm using the present tense a lot. I haven't run in ages. But you know, back when I used to run...)

    1. Elite custom customized tube crew socks for men women and kids. Cool colorfull funky funny vintage designs for every one compression socks

  2. I only wear my compression socks for runs 10+ miles. I wear them after speed work sometimes and long runs always. The brand, in this case and IMO, matters... My first piece of compression were zensah calf sleeves, and I didn't like them - the felt like leg warmers, they weren't compressy (and I bought the smallest size, and my calves are not tiny...). Then my friend bought me some bright ass pink CEP brand socks, and it was as if the heavens smiled down upon me and angels sang. Magic.

    I must look forbidding, all 5' of me, because no one ever talks to me on my runs...

  3. I bought the calf sleeves to wear after marathons. I tried running in them once, and they made my calves hurt so bad! I took them after a few minutes, and it took my legs a good 10 minutes to feel normal again. The past two months I've been dealing with shin splints, and quite a few people have recommended wearing calf sleeves after running. Since I was dumb enough to spend $35 on the darn things, I've been wearing them. Do I honestly think they do anything? Ha, of course I don't. I think people who run in

  4. I have a pair of Zenzah socks and I use them more as recovery. I just love the way my legs feel like they are getting a hug after I made them run further than they wanted.

    I haven't had anything ridiculous said to me during a run just the occasional you go girl or when I ran RnR Vegas half a drunk guy (I'm assuming) was commenting on my looks and saying something about running his way.

    Mmm See's candy.

  5. I wonder if a guy would look silly running in compression socks. Now, I want to try them to form my opinion of them, but I need them with five fingers.

  6. Nobody really knows what these compression socks or sleeves are doing. I can give you a personal testimonial though. A few summers ago I strained my calf muscles repeatedly while running due to muscle imbalances caused by too many steep climbing angle elliptical workouts during the winter. I bought a pair of calf sleeves and have never had a problem since. Placebo? Perhaps but I doubt it. Mine fit tightly enough that it is a challenge to pull them off after a run. They make me look tough too.

  7. I don't ever run in compression socks, but I do frequently wear my thigh-high anti-embolism (not that I am in danger) compression stockings après run (you can get them at CVS). I enjoy the compression all the way up my whole entire leg. And I have the opposite calf situation :( I hate that Emeryville feels too automated or something.

    I used to play on that same play structure...40+ years lie. Seeeeeeeee's....yummmmmmmm...

    Ridiculous more...I am old and invisible now. But I used to get lots of boob remarks...very annoying.

  8. I have no experience with compression socks.

    Strangers don't really say anything to me while I run. If they do, I probably don't hear it. I did get an egg thrown at me by some kids (I assume) driving by recently. It hit me and it hurt. Assholes.

    And yes, I love See's butterscotch lollipops. I haven't had one since a former co-worker brought them in as favors after his son was born. I didn't know anyone else did that outside my family. I think lollipops are better than cigars.

  9. Compression socks are absolutely pointless, at least in my experience. They did nothing for my shin splints, and seem to make me get cramp in my feet for some bizarre reason. Plus, I really don't need any extra layers of coverage when I sweat like a fat man in a cake shop anyway.

    One old bag where I live used to love yelling 'skinny freak' at me whenever I ran by her house. Now I'm twice the size she seems somewhat nonplussed at what to say. I'm sure she'll think of another insult soon.


  10. I've got some regular walkers i pass (and i think it's fun to give 'em nicknames...there's Betty White and White Glove Man and Man with Dogs, etc). These two 60ish? men used to say "zoom, zoom, zoom" as I would run by so now when they see me, it's "Hi, Zoomer!" It's kinda nice, actually, like i have my own lil park friends who don't know anything about me, except that they think I run fast.

  11. I'll answer the last question first. Yes - I will come help eat See's. I love See's way too much for my own good. I have a full 1 pound box of california brittle that I got for my birthday, and I am not sharing.

    I don't know that I've had anyone say anything strange to me. I probably don't hear it because the wind from my speed blocks all noise. Or maybe my iPod is too loud. Yeah - it would be the latter.

    I am vain enough to admit that I don't want to do compression socks because I look like enough of a doof when I run already, no need to add on. I have a friend that sees me sometimes when I run. I barely control myself from telling her to please avert her eyes when she sees me.

  12. First of all, “Fuck you, puny calf boy”, LOL. Funniest thing I have read on the old blogosphere today. Congrats.

    1. Compression socks can do one as far as I’m concerned, I think they do zilch. That said I am a failed runner, so my word should probably be considered anti-gospel.

    2. “Where are you shorts from?”. This may not seem OUT THERE ZANY but bear in mind I was red-faced, sweating like a manic and clearly in no fit state to be communicating with inquisitive fellow human beings. Think I managed to mouth JJB Sports before collapsing in a heap.

    3. I am guessing that is an American thing, but considering it involves the word candy and is thus my idea of a good time, YES.

  13. Moreeeeee Target dresses! Just can't stop.

    Although, I actually have slowed down my impulsive target dress purchasing streak...

    I don't like when people talk to me when I run because in downtown RIchmond, it's usually creepy scary looking unstable homeless people.

    And then the snobby people in the other part of town don't even both to say hi. I do always do a little wave to fellow runners as I pass by.

  14. Compression is new to running. Diabetics and people with poor circulation have been using them for years. Also, post suregery patients wear them to aid in recovery. They do work. They wont cure things like people want (read shin splints above?? etc) but they are great for recovery. I don't like running in them, but I do wear them for recovery. Bummer you didn't like them. Try them after a tough workout.

    And what's up with the random people talking to you mid run. I kinda think that's rude to interupt somebody's workout....A nice hello, good morning, or acknoledgment nod will do just fine for me.

  15. I bought a pair of compression socks at the expo of my first marathon. They are tighter than my other knee socks, but...I've never noticed any difference in recovery or performance, so now they just sit in my drawer.

  16. I have compression socks that are tighter than a mofo and I love them for recovery. Running in them? Not sure if they do much because I have never used them in a race. I also have compression shorts that I love after a good lunge/squat workout. If nothing else the compression feels good on sore muscles.

  17. Yeah, that weight comment was a little weird! That would be tripped me out a bit.

    I like compression socks and it might just be placebo, but it seems to help a bit. I mean, even if it's just psychological, it's something.

    I have that same dress in the navy blue color - Target special! I love it's slightly 40s feel. I wore it with boots (brown knee high), too.

  18. I always thought that they were a gimmick until I spent the money for some nice ones. I got the CEP brand and I am seriously in love with them. Any time I feel sore or if I go on long hikes I have them on. On your 1-10 scale I would probably rate them a 8 to get on.

  19. Ha, while I was running, some girl (who looked overweight and had a CIGARETTE in her hand) yelled at me from her car window "HEY, we are all gonna die one day anyways!" and drove off.. It accomplished nothing other than proving she is a complete idiot.

    I wear compression socks when I fly. I have poor circulation, so the doctor recommended I use them!

  20. who was the big man on campus basketball player?? I want to know. hehe.

    I wear my compression socks a lot to work when I know I will be standing, walking a lot of the day and don't want to get swollen. It does make my legs feel good after the end of the day. I have never used them to run.

  21. Hahaha I love the random things that people will say to you on your runs! Sounds like Oakland to me ;)

  22. compression socks are amazing...and I wear them at work...and xsmall only comes in hott pink so I look like a fool. Love that people hassle you on your jogs...I get pathetic "good job" from old men who OVERLAP me while I huff and puff.

  23. I just linked to your blog from Jess @ almostovernow and came across this entry. I have never run in compression stockings, but I'd be willing to bet that the ones you can buy online are probably just expensive socks. I can tell you from experience selling compression stockings (yes, I sell them where I work) that they are useful for pregnant women and diabetics with edema. HOWEVER, people who really need compression stockings for severe edema usually get prescription strength compression stockings that provide more compression -- those ones actually work!! The main thing that we sell them for is to treat edema or to help prevent varicose veins in people who are on their feet for a long time everyday (maybe they would also work in that aspect for distance runners?? though how are we to know if compression stocking prevented the varicose veins or the runner just didn't get any!). Just thought I'd add my two cents :) Hope you won't mind if I read your blog!!

  24. "Compression socks: Gimmick, or love it?"

    In my own experience, compression socks as well as running socks are not for gimmicks but for real. Maybe you happened to wear the wrong brand and size. As for me, I often choose between Drymax socks and VitalSox socks and buy them online at Legs Therapy. :)

  25. I do wear Compression socks. Love your review. You are doing great on your training. It doesn't matter how slow we are we just have to cross the finish line. Keep it up.

  26. My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller which i use before and after i run, wow what a difference!! Everyone needs one,night and day difference!

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  28. I do not know if the guy wearing the compression stockings as this is how they look?Probably slightly feminine reasonable?

  29. If your work requires you to sit or stand in the same place for extended periods of time, wearing compression socks are extremely beneficial. The graduated pressure provided by compression socks helps bring relief to tired, achy feet and legs.

    Compression Sleeves


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