Tuesday, December 9, 2014

But will it make me run faster?

Over the weekend, I was scrolling through my FB feed and saw an article on new shoes for 2015. These shoes caught my eye:


These shoes, the Ampla Fly, due out in February, have a midfoot carbon spring that is intended to give the runner an extra push on the toe off phase during running. The Ampla website describes it as a FORCEPOWER plate that "maximizes force application at big toe push off". Call me a cynic, but doesn't this seem a little gimmicky? Forcepower? And it kind of reminds me of a Seinfeld episode involving a certain pair of shoes that were purported to make one of the characters, Jimmy, jump higher. When George tried them...not so much...


Shoes manufacturers have been making promises of enhanced performance to runners for years! (Sounds like viagra for the feet, right? RD=running dysfunction?) 



Nike Shox anyone? Have you ever seen any elites running in these?

Reebok pump from the 1990s?


Remember the barefoot craze a few years back? Anyone jump on that bandwagon? 
As it turns out, minimalist running isn't for everyone. And running shoes aren't that bad for us.

Shoes are probably the most expensive items a runner can purchase. But there are a lot of products marketed to runners that claim to make us run faster, run injury free, run farther. I mean, who doesn't want to run faster? Run injury free? I'm not going to touch on nutrition in this post, because that is a topic for a whole separate post. Here are a few items, besides shoes, that make my skeptic flag fly: 

Compression socks are super popular right now. All the cool kids are wearing them in all different colors. I've considered wearing them too. After all, as a nurse, I am aware of the benefits of the compression sleeves we use in the hospital to improve blood flow in the legs and prevent the formation of blood clots. Seems like they could be beneficial for runners too, especially long distance runners. Makes sense to me...


But the inner skeptic in me turned to the research for confirmation of my hunch. It turns out that in 2 very small studies, compression socks were shown to mildly improve performance--but not significantly--by about 2%. This translates to maybe a 1-2 minute faster marathon finishing time. There was no improvement in recovery, although the runners in the study perceived less soreness after a run in which they wore the socks. If you look at the elites, some wear compression socks and some don't. I've never run in compression socks. They seem like they'd be really hot to me. Not to mention the weird tan lines I'd get. As if I don't already have those...

What about compression gear? Same story. I have a pair of CW-X compression tights and I actually feel like they slow me down. The compression shorts I have? Um, tried them a few times and for this gal, I'm not going to run in them again. Can you say chafing? I'm going to try them at CrossFit and see if there are any benefits there. Bottom line, don't expect dramatic results from compression socks. Or gear.

And what about socks in general? Running socks are pricey. And they are marketed heavily to runners. My internet search found these Stable26 running socks and wow! are they expensive. They have some integrated silicone pads in the rear foot, " to enhance stability, improve performance and comfort, resulting in reduced blister formation and improved blood flow". Well, if they really do that, then sign me up! I couldn't find many reviews on these socks, but Susan at FitBottomedGirls did one. And confirmed what I already suspected. These socks are...just socks. You know what socks I like? I like that pair of Balegas that Marcia gave me... a lot. And my Feetures are pretty awesome. My Soxy Feet makes some really fun socks that make my feet happy. SmartWool keeps my feet warm. And my Target C9 DuoDry socks perform just as well as any of their more expensive friends. Bottom line, if they stay up, wick away moisture, and don't make me blister, I'm happy.

Wouldn't these make you run faster?
I recently bought a super cute shirt from Athleta. When it arrived, there was a tag on it that said the top was UNSTINKABLE. Hmmm...again, my skeptic flag was flying. My research found that the odor repelling technology is silver salts (silver has antibacterial properties) in the fabric that fights bacteria and fungus. Athleta sprays the silver salts onto the finished product and claims that the silver coating lasts throughout the lifetime of the garment. Skeptic alert!!! According to an article I read on Rodale, these silver salts wash out after 1-2 washings, which makes more sense to me. And there is research to back this. So, if you like the top, buy it, but don't expect to come home from a hard run smelling like a rose. And at least they aren't marketing these shirts to make you run faster! Wouldn't that be something? 
From Athleta UNSTINKABLE--how could a shirt this cute ever smell?


Because there is no substitute for hard work. No shortcuts. No gimmicks.







30 comments :

  1. I buy most of my clothes at Target and I am just as fast as in my Lululemon expensive shirt.

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    1. I buy most of mine at Marshalls and TJMaxx. I get the name brands but on the cheap. I love Athleta...on sale. But I run the same in all of them!

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  2. Wendy, these socks are cracking me up! I can't stop looking at them! Now I'm curious as to how much they cost; I'm going to have to actually click the link and check them out. I have some CW-X capri tights and, well...hmm. Let's just say I'm not "sold" on their effectiveness, other than a slight placebo effect. I have run a couple of long runs in compression sleeves (calf sleeves) and have also put on compression socks AFTER a long run while I'm hanging out around the house; I think the sleeves help with post-run stiffness and soreness, but I don't really think they help me during the run. They've got to keep selling us stuff, though, right? HA! What'll be next?

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    1. I've heard from a lot of runners who wear compression socks after a long run...I may have to try that. I do have a pair of Feetures PF compression sleeves and they helped my plantar fasciitis a lot. So there's that...

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  3. I found myself nodding along with this whole post. My inner skeptic rolls her eyes at most products that make any sort of xx% bigger/better/faster/more claims. I do like to wear compression calf sleeves after a long run (not during), but have often wondered if I feel better because I want to believe that I feel better. :) Those socks look... wow.

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    1. Shoes and socks. Why not market to us? We all want to run faster!

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  4. I wonder if "buy new shoes after X miles" is a marketing ploy. I believe they last longer than X miles!

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    1. I agree. You really have to listen to your body. This time, I didn't and I'm paying the price for that! But I'm wearing new shoes now.

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  5. I recently was able to try out the Airia shoes. They claim that they can help you run up to 7% faster. So far I am not seeing a difference. I never run in compression socks either, though I do wear them for recovery. I think it helps after my long runs. Maybe it's all in my head. -L

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    1. So fun that you got to try them! I can't wait to hear your review. As far as the compression socks, I do think compression helps with recovery. I may have to try them for that purpose.

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  6. Ok so how does the Athleta shirt smell now?? I wear compression socks bc I am prone to shin splints and soreness in that area. They help me on long runs-or at least I think they do :)

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  7. Companies are just looking for an "edge". I think it's whatever works for you. It amazes me how the shoe trends have evolved. Glad you like the Balegas!

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    1. I found a pair of Balegas at Marshalls this week too! $3.50? I snatched them up!

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  8. There is definitely a lot to be skeptical over. With that said, I don't run in compression socks unless they are part of an "outfit", but I do wear them for recovery, especially my Bioskin and they actually do help me in recovery. AND they helped me with my achilles issue. But overall I totally agree, especially in the shoe department!

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    1. With my recent onset of shin splints (WTH?) I've thought about using compression for recovery. I did use compression sleeves for my PF and it helped a ton.

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  9. You are a woman after my own heart!! I am such a skeptic and prefer to just run vs putting on or trying a hundred different things just because! I have compression sleeves but wear them after running vs running in them and that's only when I remember. Call me old fashioned but I just want to put on a skirt and a tank and run. :)

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    1. Me too!!! I do love cute running clothes tho...but no promises of speedy performance, please...

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  10. Ha, ha--love this! It's so true…all these crazy claims are out of control sometimes. It really can be simpler than we think and as with everything, there's no magic bullet for results.

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    1. So funny, because I tried new shoes and it caused an injury and sent me running back to my Asics gel nimbus. I should have known better. I do know better!

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  11. I am not a barefoot fan for sure, i do need some cushion! Some of the trendy shoes do make me chuckle...I will admit I love the look of the Ampla Fly and the color. That is a really cute shirt! but i can make anything smell ;)

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  12. This totally cracked me up! I had to stifle my laughs over lunch at work today ;-) I am kind of a skeptic, also (geeze, maybe we were sisters in a previous life?). I refuse to pay top dollar for name brand stuff, and I'm always leery about the latest and greatest gizmo or gadget. It took me awhile to come around on the compression socks/sleeves thing, but I do believe they are great for recovery (much less swelling after a long run and NO kankles!)...the jury is still out on whether or not they make a difference for me while running, though (but, they are comfy and look oh-so-cute!)

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    1. The more I hear from people, the more I think I should try compression sleeves for my shin splints!

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  13. This is great! I wear compression socks on longer runs and I think they help with the soreness. I wear them at work also (yay nurses!) I don't like to run in compression tights though. I agree they feel slow.
    I won a pair of those stable socks and I tend to run in them without the silicone thingies. but they aren't good for off road because little rocks and dirt get stuck in the little silicone thingy pockets.. not good! I have yet to find a shirt I that can stay stink free. but I am also pretty cheap.
    Thanks for checking out my blog, love finding other runner nurses!

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    1. So are there any benefits to running in the Stable sox without the silicone pads?

      I added your blog to my list of blogs I follow! And I didn't even know you were a nurse... :)

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  14. Hhahah unstinkable?! That's the best one I've heard so far!

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  15. Great post! I too often wonder the same thing. Are these gimmicks or is there truth to the marketing?

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    1. I always look to the research. It's the scientist in me.Of course, if it's too good to be true....

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