Thursday, April 28, 2011

The North Face 2-in-1 Short = Compression Shorts + Running Shorts

As runners we are consistently torn in a love-hate relationship with our short shorts.

Based on function alone you just can't beat a light-weight, split-short. You can really stride out in those things! Nothing to hindering your stride or weigh you down... but not a whole lot covering you either.

We all try to remedy this problem in different ways; by keeping an extra pair of baller Basketball shorts or black sweat bottoms on top until the last moment, or maybe by doubling up a full length pair of spandex underneath. We try different combinations of polyster and spandex layers with hopes of finding something comfortable and potentially something that won't create any embarrassing or painful wardrobe malfunctions.

The Northface Mens Voracious 2 in 1 running short, is an extremely lightweight long distance running short. It has a breathable mesh material on both sides of the short, but the best part of all; built in compression shorts for optimal performance.

Simplify your selection with an garment that does the mixing and matching for you. The whole is certainly greater than the sum of it's parts when you experience in the comfort and functionality of this great looking piece.

It has an elastic waistband and drawstring as well as a rear pocket with zipper, and offers ultraviolet protection factor of UPF 30.

As one of our own Fleet Feet team members, Colin, has put it,

"Personally this is one of the most comfortable pair of running shorts I have tried. The material is very lightweight and extremely soft. The built in compression keeps everything in check (for lack of a better explanation) and also allows for circulation to keep the upper legs warm. I love the pocket in the back for its size (big enough for several GU’s or even a cell phone). Plus, it has a zipper, so there is no chance of possessions falling out when running. However, I have found that on longer runs the compression can lead to chafing, so you may need to consider using some Body Glide if you are susceptible to chaffing."

With summer coming there is no better investment that a great pair of running shorts that will keep you comfortable and running smooth through the warmer months. Come on in and check out our full selection of brands, lengths and materials, including The North Face Mens Voracious 2 in 1 running short featuring a compression short lining.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Compression: More Than a Fancy Tube Sock.

You are out on your favorite trail run, climbing hard up hill and flying fast down the other side. You can feel your heart pumping, lungs working and legs burning and you are loving every minute of it. This burn is caused by the lactic acid building up and the your muscles fibers tearing while you are breaking your systems down. Strengthening and improvement only starts once damage is rebuilt and the mess has been cleared.

In order for your system to get stronger it must first be broken down. This provides muscle the opportunity to rebuild, and rebuild stronger than before the damage. So only after you rebuild and recover are you able to run farther and faster, but first your muscles pay the price.

Vibrations are carried from the impact of the pavement through your body with each foot strike which causes tearing in your muscles. Muscles pull at connective tissue attachments to forcibly pull bones around pivot-point joints like your ankles, knees, hips and back. All this force, torque and impact damages your muscles, bones and connective tissue, BUT this damage heals stronger than before the break down and you grow stronger and your endurance improves over time.

By challenging the current capacity of your body and breaking it down by working at your current limit you provide your body the opportunity to recover to a point beyond its current capacity, and therefore improve.

In an ideal world you go into each workout fully rested, free of muscles tears and stocked with blood full of oxygen so you can really push yourself. However, as you work and break down your system your muscles become excessively inflamed from the many small tears. This causes fluids to pool in your limbs which prevents lactic acid from clearing and blood from flowing back to the heart for oxygen.

This is why compression is so wonderful! Not only does it minimize damage but it also speeds recovery; the benefits are double fold! Stabilizing your muscles decreases vibrations, tearing, soreness and fatigue; so less pain and more gain.

Working muscles squeeze vessels and forces blood upwards against gravity through channels to the heart. Compression provides the same pumping action as working muscles and assists in moving blood back to the heart and lungs to load up on oxygen. This is helpful not only for recovery after workouts, but also during a workout!

This same squeeze from compression also moves lactic acid up against gravity to be filtered and removed from the system; further minimizing the effects of delayed onset muscle fatigue.

The variety and diversity of the benefits of compression is almost as great as the products on the market that fall into that category. Fleet Feet Bend offers several compression specific products that I have covered in detail below to make them easier to compare. Please drop by the shop to test any of the listed products out or if you have questions that have not been answered. I am certain that we can find the right compression for your activity and recovery.

Zoot Compression
Zoot Compression Website

Products Reviewed:
CompressRx Ultra Active Calf Sleeve ($60.00)
CompressRx Ultra Active Sock ($60.00)

Benefits Claimed:
- Stabilize muscles.
- Accelerate removal of lactic acid.
- Improve circulation back to the heart to oxygenate blood more quickly.
- Reduced muscle fatigue and post exercise soreness when used during exercise.

Listed Features
- ZoneRx: muscle specific zones of compression with differing amounts on compression on muscle belly of calf compared to front of shin.
- CRx: Graduated compression from more compression low at ankle to less compression at top of calf to aid in pushing against gravity and moving lactic acid and blood through the legs back towards the heart.
-SynchroRx: Functional moisture management, temperature regulation & odor protection because no one wants a soggy, stinky sock.
- Circumference Sizing: Products are sized according to the circumference of your muscle and your body for the best fit rather than group sizes according to shoe size like other companies.
- Knit not Sewn: Zoot products are knitted as one unit rather than cut out into smaller pieces and then sewn back together. This means there are no weak spots or chance for irratation from seams.
- Compression above 40 mmHg: Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury and Zoot offers the greatest amount of compression available without a prescription.

If you are looking for some serious compression then this is the product for you. Although many customers are very comfortable working out and doing intense exercise,
even competing while wearing Zoot products I personally found them to be a little too intense of compression for use while being active. I may just be sensitive to compression but that degree of pressure on my calf muscles and arches while working hard periodically left me with the sensation that I might crap or my toes my curl under. However for recovery, travel and casual wear around these socks can't be beat. They really get the job done and left me feeling much more prepared for my next workout and I didn't feel overwhelmed by the level of compression what so ever in a less demanding environment.

RecoFit Compression
RecoFit Compression Website

Product Reviewed:
RecoFit Calf Sleeve ($45.00)

Benefits Claimed:
- Accounts for both of the body's circulatory systems; lymphatic or immune system and the circulatory system of the heart pumping blood.
- Aids squeeze of muscles to reduce pooling and accelerate blood's movement back to the heart and lungs.
- Improve circulation to decrease inflammation and the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Fatigue

Listed Features
-GreatFiT (Gradient Recovery Exercise & Activity Technology): Differing amounts of compression which corresponds to the needs of specific areas of the leg. This results in more compression on the shins and less compression on the muscle belly of the calf.
-Resistex (Negative-ion circulation assistance): Carbon yarns have been added to the technical fabric for a ribbed fit which increases breathability, adds compression and provides massage effects. In addition to moisture management. Again, no body likes soggy, stinky apparel.
-Flatlock seams, fine fabrics & cross grain cuts: for added compression and comfort.
-Circumference based sizing: Sizing is determined by measuring the calf rather than group sizing according to foot size for an ideal fit.

The Recofit Calf Sleeves are great because they give you the compression you desire to support your shins and calves but still allow you to wear your favorite Balega or Drymax technical socks on your feet. The Recofit are a happy medium between the intense, medical grade compression of Zoot Ultra-Actice Sock and the familiar, cotton-like feel of the Balega Performance Enhancing Compression Sock. Recofit products are cut and sewn together and don't offer quite as much compression as Zoot products. Recofit still sports quite enough compression to make it a great product for recovery and travel, as well as high-intensity work-outs. I find that is the niche that the Recofit sleeves fit for me. They are enough compression to really minimize shin-soreness if I wear them for speed work on the roads without the threat of being so tight I feel like my calves are having to work to push and shove against them. I can then leave them on for recovery while I stretch out and make dinner after my workout at home. However, they certainly can't compare to the Zoots for pure recovery and the Balegas for pure comfort.

Balega Compression
Balega Running Socks Website

Product Reviewed:
Balega Performance Enhancing Compression ($40.00)

Benefits Claimed & Listed Features:
- Quicken the reabsorb lactic acid.
- Reduce muscle strain.
- Improve circulation.
- Keep muscles compact to reduce fatigue and shorten recovery time.
- Sizing is based on foot size

Not nearly as technical as Zoot or Recofit, also not as expensive. The Balega Performance Enhancing Compression socks do offer more compression than it appears. When you first put them on and take a look in the mirror you feel that you are in a knee-high, tube sock and should be headed out to shoot some hoops instead of headed to hit the trails. However, you do feel the compression from the socks and I even found this level of compression much more comfortable than the Zoot or Recofit on longer runs. I like the familar, soft feel of Balega socks on my feet and toes while I am running. The Balega compression also has more warmth to offer than Recofit or Zoot which was nice keeping my muscles warm during excercise throughout the winter. Although the Balega compression is far from medical grade it is very well suited to long runs where a little extra compression and warmth is appreciated and the familar feel of high quality Balega socks is also desired. If you are looking for comfortable compression for the long run Balega is a great product. If you looking for a more intense compression Zoot or Recofit may be a better fit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some Suggestions for your Summer Race Schedule.

As the weather slowly but surely comes around and the sun stays out longer it has got us all thinking about (and wishing for) summer. The brand new RaceCenter NW has made it's appearance in the shop and it's time to start making some race plans for the upcoming months. Here is a little summary of what's coming up...

Local 5ks & 10ks All Summer Long...

We are lucky to have such an abundance of local fun runs and fundraiser 5ks and 10ks. These events are great community builders and support an array of local causes and groups. Events are scheduled all summer long, especially once the weather gets warm. Take a look at this summers ever growing list of local events:

Saturday, May 7th - SolAire Salmon Run 5k & 10k: Run from Riverbend Park to support The Environmental Center and raise awareness and education about local sustainability.

Friday, May 8th - Lapine High School Congrats Grads 5k: Support Lapine HS Grad Night with this 5k run/walk that starts and ends at the Lapine HS track. Call Jenifer @ 541-610-6355 with any questions.

Saturday, June 4th - Three Sisters Marathon, Marathon Relay & 5k: Join in on the first annual Three Sisters Marathon with a loop around Eagle Crest Resort in the mild early summer sun. Proceeds benefit the Run for Eva Trust Fund and the Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon.

Sunday, June 5th - Heaven Can Wait 5k: Help raise funds for Sara's Project and raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer with this run/walk through Drake Park.

Saturday, June 18th - Redmond Dry Canyon 5k/10k: Funds from this run go back to support our local youth and inspire future runners through the Redmond High School Track & Field Program.

Sunday, June 26th - Pacific Crest 5k & 10k: Join in among the 4,000+ athletes for the racing, expo and live entertainment during Pac-Crest Endurance Weekend at Sunriver.

Monday, July 4th - Spark Your Heart 5k: Before you head to the parade downtown start your Independence Day off right with this run that raises awareness about cardiac health in our community.

Saturday, July 9th - Smith Rock Summer Classic 5k, 10k & Half Marathon: Smith Rock isn't just for world class climbers, it's also a trail runner's paradise. Make the drive out to Terrebonne for this Summer time classic.

Saturday & Sunday, July 16th & 17th - Deschutes Dash 5k & 10k: Join the swimmers, bikers and runners as part of the Deschutes Dash Sports Weekend held in the Old Mill District for the 10k on Saturday and the 5k on Sunday.

Saturday, August 13th - Running is for the Birds 5k & 10k: Support the Sunriver Nature Center & Conservancy with this event run along the shaded paths in Sunriver.

Wednesday, August 17th - Deschutes Brewery Twilight 5k: Break up your work week with this evening race from the Deschutes Brewery and enjoy a Twilight Ale on your cool down.

Something a little different, but just as local...

If you are looking for something that is a little longer or has an extra twist on the average fun run. Try these great events scheduled for this summer.

Thursday, May 5th, 12th & 26th - May Race Series presented by COCC: This three week series will keep you on your toes and coming back for more with a different challenge each time.

  1. 6 Mile Relay Create a 2, 3 or 4 person team to alternate every 400m and cover 6 miles on the track as quickly as possible.

  2. Jungle Run A challenging four or two mile trail run that is full of mud bogs, steep ascents and log crossings. Catch a snake along the way and get a prize.

  3. 16th Annual Storm the Stairs Climb 300 stairs over 2 miles and then enjoy a post race BBQ lunch.

Saturday, May 28th - Happy Girls Half Marathon: Ladies, prepare to be pampered at this great new event. The turnout will be huge, the pacers will be handsome and the race medals are sterling silver and as cute as can be. You don't want to miss out on this one!

Saturday, June 4th - Three Sisters Marathon: Take a loop around Eagle Crest Resort and beyond as you enjoy the snow capped skyline in this early summer marathon.

Sunday, June 12th - The Dirty Half Marathon: This summer time classic is turning ten and gets a route-change to celebrate. Confirmed as the USATF Trail Running National Championships. This race is sure to fill up fast since it is capped at 800 participants... so get your entry in today.

Friday & Saturday, August 5th & 6th - Cascade Lakes Relay: Call in 11 of your running buddies to create a running teams or 5 of your ultra-running buddies for an ultra-running team and cover the 216 beautiful miles from the Cascade Lakes to Bend over two days.

Sunday, August 7th - Haulin' Aspen Marathon, Half Marathon and 7 miler: Race through the summer heat and dust in this summer time favorite at Shevlin Park.

Take a trip outside Central Oregon...

A road or trail race can be the perfect inspiration you need to head out of town to try a new adventure. Check out these trip worthy events:

Sunday, May 1st - Lilac Bloomsday Road 12k: Road trip up to Spokane for the 35th running of the Bloomsday 12k and enjoy the on course performers that line the entire course.

Saturday, June 11th - Helvetia Half Marathon & Drop Top 10k: This homegrown event features a surprisingly hilly and challenging course that dips and rolls through the pretty country fields outside Portland.

Monday, July 4th - Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon & Full Marathon: Get yourself a nice PR on this flat and smoking fast course. Plus fresh strawberry shortcake at the finish line.

Saturday, July 9th - Siskiyou Out Back (SOB) 15k & 50k: If you are looking for a challenging mountain top trail run make the drive down to Southern Oregon and up 6,500 feet to the top of Mt Ashland for this sky high treat full of dust, rocks and warm, thin air.

Sunday, July 10th - Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon: Nothing complements 13.1 miles like a fine Pinot Noir from the great Northwest and the scenic views from the Dundee Hills.