Every once in a while, someone comes up with an idea that makes you go

Duh! Why didn’t I think of this? How has this not been invented before?

These guys made me say “Duh” big time.

That happened to me last December when I was in Austin for “The Running Event.” For those of you who don’t know, the event is basically an annual expo/showroom for all the new running products that will be coming out over the next year. It’s a great place to discover new innovations, and each year has it’s product trends. This year was flush with compression sock companies, all fighting for market share. As I walked past booth after booth of compression stuff, I couldn’t help but think that in two years time, most of these brands would be goners, especially since they were all doing pretty much the same thing: compressing.

Paula Radcliffe in knee socks

Paula Radcliffe always rocks the squeezers, shown here in white person skin tone.

Despite the fact that one of my idols in the sport popularized them, and every single triathlete I’ve ever met can’t seem to take them off, I never really took to compression personally, other than for long flights, or after the occasional leg-abusing long run or track workout. I’ve read the science, and yeah, it gets you thinking, but there is always a lot of science in sport that I don’t bother listening to. Science recommends so many freaking things, and changes it’s mind so frequently, that I tend to buffer what science says with some good old fashioned “what works for me” and “what’s worth incorporating into my already full life.” Something has to provide a lot of value for me to add it into my program.

I digress…So during my company-spying in Austin, I walked past the 110% Play Harder booth and saw something unexpectedly different. There were compression socks hanging everywhere, as usual, but there were also these funny little calf sleeves connected to them, and what looked like ice cube trays made out of fabric and plastic, and capri tights full of kangeroo pouches, and silver insulator bags that looked like they could keep your sub sandwiches cold for days. What in the hell was going on here?

I had to ask, of course.

Rachel was a sprinter in college, before she took up a new sport: destroying pregnant pro athlete’s confidence.

Rachel, (pictured kicking my slightly-more-luscious-than-usual-butt last week on a run in San Francisco,) kindly walked me through the product line and explained what the deal was: compression + ice, or heat. No more wrapping a ziplock baggie of ice to my injury with a kitchen towel or never-tight-enough saran wrap. The booth was full of products that make self-maintence easy. Gone is the excuse that you don’t have time to heat or ice something…you can do it anywhere, anytime, while doing anything else. And that was my “Aha” moment. All I could think was, Why hasn’t anyone invented this before? I really could have used these for the past 15 years. And then of course my next thought was, I wonder if she’ll hook me up with some free stuff?

She did…under the condition that I let her win all our runs together. And for three months I’ve tested the products, both as a runner and as a pregnant person, and confirmed that they rock on both accounts. Lucky for me, 110% thinks I’d be a great addition to their athlete roster of “Playmakers” so I have the opportunity to bring them on as an official sponsor. Check them out online and you’ll see that they have been featured in like a zillion publications recently and won some cool innovation awards. I’m very grateful to have their support this year.

I assume by now the suspense is killing you and despite the fact that your coffee is getting cold while you read this, you simply HAVE to know how these products caught my eye, and how I plan to use them. Well, wait no more. In six photos, you will see what the fuss is about, and will probably also smack your forehead saying, Why didn’t I think of that?

1. The Socks

Socks + Overdrive

Here is one compression sock shown alone, and one with the Overdrive sleeve over the top.

 2. The Inserts

Inserts that you can cut to size, and either freeze or microwave.

 3. The Unexpected

Slide that little bugger onto a trouble area with heat before exercise to warm it up, or ice afterwards. This piece is perfect size for plantar fasciitis, or inserted upward through the heal slot instead for achilles problems. The Overdrive sleeve holds it on tight, while the bottom compression sock protects your skin and keeps the blood circulating.

4. The Obvious

Sore calves? Boom. Or if you’re me, you put 4 x this amount of ice in when your ankles get swollen and fat from carrying around an unborn child.

5. The Flexibility

Ideally, you kick back and relax when stuffing your capris with ice or heat, but in case you just can’t stop…In seriousness, these “juggler knickers” are what I was most impressed by because they have pockets to treat any other area a runner could possibly hurt that the socks don’t cover. Specifically for me, I can ice my knee and heat my achy low back at the same time. Plus there’s pockets for my tots. (Picky Bars and cleavage not included).

 

6. Portability

And finally, they come in a thermal zip pouch that keeps your ice cold for like six hours, or something crazy like that. You can basically pack your recovery with you on your way to your race, or Sunday long run, and then get your recovery on while you eat brunch with your friends. WHAT?! Yeah, I know.

And The Best Part:

110% is bringing me out to Boston Marathon to hang out at the EXPO and see the race, so for all my readers who are going to be there, COME SAY HI! I’ll fill you in one more details later, including where I’ll be and when, and info about a special discount for my “Homeboys” (that’s you), and other fun stuff on the horizon.

I’m 90% of the way through another blog with a more thorough update about life due out Friday, but since a press release was going out today about 110%, I wanted to make sure you knew what the deal was from my fingertips. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think about compression. I’m particularly interested in how other athletes incorporate compression successfully into their routine, and where you draw the line for use, i.e. it’s ok to wear compression gear at a restaurant, but not ok to elevate your legs on the table…