Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Midweek Motivation! The Old Me

You know those people who make everything a competition? You have them in your life almost everyday...that neighbor who has to cut his lawn just a half inch shorter than yours, that co-worker who just must get the last word in at the staff meeting, that Mom who's kid starting walking at 8 months when your kid started walking at 9 know the people I'm talking about! Well, I hate to admit it, but I am kinda one of those people, and I apologize if I've ever tried to "one up" any of you...I do it almost unconsciously, like it's an ingrained instinct, I really thrive on competing, even if there is no ultimate prize to be had.

I don't know that this one of my better qualities, but I'll tell you where it comes in handy for matter how off the rails I might go with my commitment to a healthy lifestyle (Hello Halloween candy and being "too busy" to exercise for the last week), I am so focused on not losing the position I have achieved through focusing on health and fitness that I will be in constant competition with myself to maintain where I am. In the past I'd have periods of time where I would exercise, eat well, lose would last a few months, and then...BAM..."old me" would creep right up and pass "new me" and I'd quickly be right back into my old habits, with the same excuses, feeling bad about myself but not caring enough to try to "win". As I approach the two-year anniversary of when I started running, which has been the latest catalyst to become the "new me", I will remind myself that the excuses "old me" used to use have been proven false; I have found the time, I have had the energy, I have made the efforts to keep beating her for two years, by doing something I told myself I would never to...becoming a runner!!

If you are not a naturally competitive person that is okay, you know what fuels your fire, you know what you need to do to "beat" her. Always keep that "old me" always in your sights. There may be days she gets a little bit ahead of you, but you'll pass her again, you know how to do it, you will win in the long run!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Product Review: SLS3 Compression Socks with a GIVEAWAY!

SLS3 provided me with a free pair of compression socks in return for this review, but rest assured the opinions and reviews expressed here are my own.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may know there are a few items I cannot live without…like Strawberry Lemonade Nuun, the Strava app, and my old reliable Saucony Guides! Well, I might just be adding compression gear to that list now too!
A few weeks ago I was approached by SLS3 to try out a pair of their Butterfly Compression Socks to review for you all. I was pretty excited to get a chance to write up my first official product review, when I realized…I really didn’t know anything about compression garments…time for a quick tutorial!
First, SLS3 is a small company based in San Diego. It was started by a husband/wife triathlete duo, which is important to me…I want to know the people making my gear know the sport I am using it for! They are also German, so you know they know about engineering stuff (as my Grandpa would say “Germans make everything better!) They have wide range of compression socks, sleeves and other gear for runners, triathletes, and cyclists; from beginners to professionals. I had seen some of their tri suits before, but again, I was pretty ignorant on how compression gear works, so while their stuff looked cool, I didn’t really know what to think. 
So, I did some research and was excited to see so much positive information on compression! Studies have shown that wearing compression during exercise can:
·         Improve strength, sprint performance and jumping height
·         Influence your oxygen intake and lactate concentration (aka IMPROVE ENDURANCE!)
·         Increase your stamina
And wearing compression for recovery can:
·         Allow lactate concentration to go away more quickly
·         Reduce muscle pain and swelling
Pretty much everything on my “wish list” for being a better runner was accounted for. So, I sat by my mailbox anxiously awaiting their arrival! I did a couple runs in the days before I got my socks, trying to pay close attention to how my legs felt during, and after for comparison. My right ankle usually feels sore and weak when I run, so I tend to use KT tape on it. I did a run with tape and without and really noticed a difference in how much stronger I feel with the tape on. My biggest hope for these socks was that I could run tape free and feel the same confidence and strength!

My daughter texted me after school on the day they arrived “Mom, there’s a package in the mail with your name on it, is it a present for me?” This is the same question I get every time there is a package in the mail. “No Kayley, it’s a present for Mom!” I was pretty excited to give these things a go! I tore the envelope open and found the pink and white box. My first impression, it kind of looked like the packaging for a feminine hygiene product…if I have one suggestion for SL3S it might be to modernize the packaging a bit, but that was quickly forgotten about when I took the socks out…they are super cute!

Not the most striking packaging...but all the essential info is right on the front!
I love the purple, they also come in teal, pink, and light blue
I immediately noticed how lightweight and soft they felt. I guess I was expecting them to be really stiff and heavy feeling, so this was a nice surprise. I was ready to put these beauties on and give them a spin. I planned on doing three trials with them before writing this review. First, a short tempo run to see if they helped with speed fatigue. Then a long run to see how they helped with endurance, then I planned to do a mid-distance run without the socks and wear them after, to see if there was a significant difference in wearing them for recovery only. Here's what I think: 

Short Tempo Run:
I did a three miler with my BRF a few days after my half marathon. I wasn't sure that this was the best time to do a Tempo run, but I was feeling confident with my fancy new socks. They went on much more easily than I thought they would...I just had to bunch them down a lot to get my ginormous feet inside, but once I got them over my heel, they pulled up over my calves without too much protest. They felt snug, but not uncomfortable. It was a nice enough day that I had shorts on, so when I walked through the Rec to meet up with Brandi, my socks were on full display. I got no less than four compliments on them before I had even ran a step...while looking good on a run is never my goal, I gotta admit that I was feeling pretty fly right about now. When we got outside and I realized how warm it was I was worried I was going to get too hot...but SLS3 claims the socks are made with special cooling material, so I thought, "we'll see!" We were off and I actually felt a little like I had springs attached to my legs. Instead of feeling weighed down with such long socks on, I felt somehow lighter. We took our first mile out in an 8:52...much faster than we had planned, but I felt great. We dialed it back a bit for miles two and three, but still managed to hold right around 9-minute miles...and my legs didn't complain once! I also never felt like they were making my legs too hot. My feet definitely got sweaty, but the material was really good at wicking that moisture away, so my toes didn't get that slimy feeling they sometimes do with other performance sock material. For me, this was a big "thumbs up" on bullet point #1 -   Improve strength and sprint performance!

It's hard to make runner legs look cooler than they already are, but the purple butterfly socks take it up a notch!
Long Run:
My tempo run was on a Wednesday and I planned to do my long run that Saturday, but a lovely stomach bug decided to travel through my running for me that weekend. So I had to modify a bit and instead of wearing them for a 10-miler, I wore them for an 8-miler the next week. After a wash (hang to dry) the socks looked and felt good as new. I pulled them on, with a little more skill this time around and headed out. It was another unseasonably warm day for fall in Minnesota, but again, my legs didn't feel stifled by the socks. I had planned to try to negative split this run so I started off easy. The socks were comfortable and really do feel like buttah on my feet! I was really happy to hit the halfway point feeling so strong, especially after a few days of being off my feet thanks to illness. It was about the 6-mile mark when I felt a little bit of pinching on my right knee. I noticed the sock had rolled down a bit and was bunching right behind my kneecap. I quick tug on them put them right back in place and they stayed put for the rest of the run. I was tired, but I certainly felt like I had a little more in me after I had finished. I think that any other run after being sick, especially one more than three miles, would have kicked my, I'm calling bullet point #2 -  Influence your oxygen intake and lactate concentration (aka IMPROVE ENDURANCE!) - a success as well!

The band sat right below my kneecap, which worked fine on the short run, even though it rolled down a bit on the long run.
Recovery Day:
My last test for my socks was to wear them AFTER a mid-distance run for recovery only to see if I noticed a difference in how my legs felt the next day. I hadn't put tape on my ankle for any runs since I got the socks, and so far, it was feeling good. While my ankle was still a bit sore, it was noticeably less so than normal when I run without tape. I went out for a five mile run in the morning so I could wear the socks all day if I wanted to afterwards. It was an easy run, no tempo or negative split miles, just a nice steady pace. My knee and ankle gave me their normal moans and groans during it, but that was what I was hoping for, just another testament that the socks likely helped eliviate some of my joint pain on my previous runs. I finished up, took a quick shower, and put my socks on...two washes in one week and they were as vibrant and smooth as when I first took them out of the box, no pilling at the ankle like a lot of my other performance socks! I put them on and immediately felt that feeling of cool, lightness that I had felt previously, they just somehow make my legs feel stronger when I am wearing them. I went about my normal day's activities, making breakfast, reading to the kids, playing endless hours of know usual Saturday stuff. About two hours into wearing them, my 'bunching below the knee" problem came back, so I pulled them up again and continued to feel like I had super-legs! I wore them for about 5 hours total that day. It was kind of like having an extended massage on my calves. When I took them off, it was like I hadn't even walked on my legs all day, no fatigue, my legs really felt refreshed. I think the mixture of the fabric and the tightness are really kind of perfect with these socks. They don't feel pinchy or hot, I could wear them all day if I wanted! So bullet point # 5 - Reduce muscle pain and swelling - is confirmed!

I get that you might be reading this thinking, "Come on Linda, no way are these socks so perfect!" So here are a couple things I would say would fall into my "cons" category:
  1. Sizing: When deciding on what size compression socks or sleeves to get you want to measure the circumference of your calf. That and your shoe size determine which size socks you'll order. My calf is 15" and I wear a 9.5-10 shoe, so I fall right on the cusp of being a S/M and a M/L. I got the M/L and I think that is what caused the issues with the knee bunching on the long run and recovery day. If I had the S/M they probably would have sat a little better under my knee to eliminate that. But, they would have probably been much harder to get on. So I would say that initially, if you fall right on the edge of sizing, opt for smaller, it might take a little more effort to get them on, but I think they'll feel better when you are wearing them.
  2. Cost: Now, you all know that if I can squeeze a penny out of something, I'm going to do it, so the thought of paying $54 for a pair of socks is a bit daunting to me. I don't think anything but my bike and my shoes cost me more than $54. That said...if they hold up to washing as well as they have so far, and if I can eliminate the need to use KT tape on my ankle every time I run, I actually think that $54 would turn out to be a bargain!
Other than that, do I think you should run right out an get yourself a pair of SLS3 compression socks or sleeves? YOU BET! I am so happy to have found out about compression and that I had the chance to try out these amazing socks. I'm really excited to keep testing them out and seeing how much I can improve my running with their help. I also know it's about to get crazy-cold around here, so it will be fun to see how they hold up to Minnesota Winter Running!

I also can't say enough about how awesome SLS3 has been to work with. Travis, the rep I have been talking with has been so helpful with my questions. You can tell right away when you are working with a company that takes a lot of pride in their product and wants to get things right, and SLS3 is no exception. They are passionate about the sport and it shows in their customer service.

You can check out their full line of socks, sleeves, and all the other awesome compression gear at their website at Also, check out THEIR blog...they have a ton of expertise and share some great tips and tricks.

Now, if you got this far into my post, you deserve to be does having your very own pair of SLS3 Butterfly Compression socks or sleeves sound? If you are ready to change the way you run, then click here to enter our giveaway!

AND if you don't want to give it up to fate? How about a monster discount? I thought you might like that. Head on over to and check out their online store...use code MRTT40 for 40% off your purchase...seriously 40% off, how cool is that!

If you have any specific questions about the socks, or want an update later this winter, let me know!

Giveaway details: Giveaway starts November 3, 2015 and ends Novmber 9, 2015. Open to U.S. residents only. The winner will be announced on my blog, via Twitter, and will be contacted by email.