After Receiving a 50% discount code via @ukrunchat and @absolute360 I decided I would treat myself to a pair of IR (infra red) calf sleeves. Several runners within my running club wear compression calf sleeves either during training runs or as a recovery aid and I was very curious to see if these IR calf sleeves would provide any benefit to me.
I ordered via Absolute360 website on a Saturday afternoon and by Monday I had received my order. The speed of processing the order and delivery was very impressive!
As soon as they arrived, I read the brief leaflet that accompanied the product and tried on the sleeves. Their sizing guide on their website was very accurate and the calf sleeves fit well. The company state that these sleeves are not as tight as your usual compression garments and as such, you should be able to wear them longer. This claim held true. Although there is clearly a compression effect felt, it is not as tight as other brands such as SKINS.
I thought I would sleep in them overnight as I was still experiencing muscle soreness from Sunday’s long hilly run; the 1st long run I had done in over 4 weeks. The following morning I awoke and removed the sleeves to reveal patterned legs – expected from overnight wear of slight compression gear. In addition I no longer felt any muscle soreness.
As I was unsure whether this was do to my normal recovery time of 30-38 hours for a steady long run of 17 miles, I decided I would try them out on my next race: Shugborough Relays, a 2k sprint in a team of four.
A bit of background information: I tend to avoid training for speed and I certainly do not like entering sprint races. This was my 1st so I felt completely under-prepared for this event. I did complete the 2k in 16.28 but the effort for this pace felt far too hard and as such, my legs (and lungs) felt like jelly. I have no idea why my pace was as slow for such a hard effort. One of those mysterious runs I suppose!
After a 35 minute drive home, I showered, foam rollered and wore my calf sleeves, again overnight. Upon waking the following morning, no muscle soreness was felt. At this point I started to think that these calf sleeves may be of benefit to me. The ultimate test was still to come.
Three days after the Shugborough relays, I was to take part in a 12 hour relay race: Trailblaster 12, in a team of 3. I had never undertaken such a race before and I was expecting to feel significant soreness in the days following.
This endurance event consists of 5k undulating trail loops across terrains such as grass, gravel and some tarmac. the aim was to complete as many laps as part of a team in 12 hours. In our team of 3, we completed a total of 110k with 2 members completing 35k each and 1 member completing 40k. I completed 35k with an average pace of about 10.40.
After my final lap I felt tired with some muscle fatigue and a slight calf tightness. Overall, I didn’t feel too bad. This may be because I did a full stretch session after every lap. Once the event had finished I wore my calf sleeves immediately and prepared to drive the 90 miles back home. The drive home felt relatively OK and no additional muscle tightness/soreness was felt.
After arriving home, I showered and wore the calf sleeves overnight. Upon waking, no muscle soreness was felt in my calves and very little was felt in my glutes/hams. I managed a whole day at work (at a desk) with no issues. As the effects of a hard run can often be seen 48 hours after an event, I wore my sleeves overnight again. Again, upon waking no soreness was felt and I was completely ready to head out for another run feeling fully refreshed and raring to go!
So after a 17 mile hilly Sunday run, a 2k sprint replay race and a 12 hour endurance relay race over the course of 7 days, I have suffered no muscle soreness or tightness.
Do I think these calf sleeves helped in my recovery? I certainly do! However, I do believe that to feel as good as I have done over the past 7 days, a good diet, stretching and foam rollering should also be incorporated into any recovery regime.