Saturday, November 10, 2012

Searching For Hybrid Running Tights

It's been a little over 2 years ago when I bought my first pair of running tights—a 2XU compression tights. Before that I've always been running races in ordinary running shorts. But I had some issues running in shorts. Firstly, whenever I run any distance longer than a half marathon (21km), I'd become increasingly vulnerable to developing blisters between my inner thighs. Secondly, I'd also fall victim to severe cramps which would typically start around 30km into the race. 

It wasn't until much later, after discussing my problem with some experienced runners, when I was introduced to the running tights. Although there were several brands in the market, I was somehow drawn to the 2XU. And so in September 2010 I finally became a proud first-time owner of a 2XU Compression tights. The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the running tights were fairly exciting and amusing as reported here

To be very honest, I wasn't really convinced that the compression tights could do the things it claimed it could, but I reckoned that I had nothing much to lose anyway; there was no harm trying it out. Well, 2 years have since elapsed since that day, and I have since bought another 2 pairs of 2XU compression tights. Whenever I run anything more than 20km—even during training—I'd put on my compression tights. 

You may be wondering if the 2XU compression tights can really do what it says it can. Well, the truth is that after 2 years wearing it, I still can't be sure if it helps in preventing or delaying the onset of fatigue and cramps during a race. Neither am I sure that it helps in speeding up muscle recovery after a race. It's true that I rarely suffer severe cramps these days, but that could be because I'm better able to pace my run, or my legs are more conditioned for long-distance running now. However, one benefit that I can't deny is that I no longer get blisters between my inner thighs. I will only get the blister problem again when I run far beyond the 42km, such as the 100km ultra marathon. Nevertheless, I try to refrain from wearing the tights whenever I run shorter distances, not because I'm trying to make it last longer, but mainly because I'm not a big fan of men in tights!

I wore the 2XU compression tights in all 3 of the 100km ultra trail marathons I've done so far. And I'm planning to wear it again when I return to Hong Kong for the Vibram ultra trail marathon 100km in January next year. Last February, I've done the Vibram as reported here.

I'm not one who'd easily be intimidated by the challenge of the distance or terrains of a race course. I may be worried about the torture, of course, but as I have said to some friends many times before, whenever I join these races, I enter with the mindset that "failure is just not an option". Come rain or shine, I will see to it that I cross the finish line in the end!

But Hong Kong is a bit different—there is the cold temperature I have to reckon with; and cold temperature is my major weakness. I can train for the rolling hills; I can train for the ridiculous distance; I can come up with proper hydration and nutrition plan. But my body just can't deal with the cold temperature.

I'm expecting an even colder Vibram next year when compared to the one I had done last February, so I'm making early preparations to survive the cold. I'm trying to search for a running tights that is a compression type, but also a thermal type—a kind of hybrid tights, if you like. So far my search hasn't been fruitful. I'm wondering if any of my readers know of such tights in the market and could perhaps guide me to an online source where I can find out more, and maybe eventually buy a pair or two.


Anonymous said..., quite a bit thicker than 2XU, definitely warm enough for HK.

Cornelius said...

Thanks, Anonymous friend, for the links. Will check it out!

Fan Teck Tsen said...

hiya Cornelius;

Hope you can help me on this matter, I'm planning to buy a 2XU compression calf guards, but not sure about the size, according to the internet 2XU calf guard size chart it messure calf girth, and my calf girth size is around 37cm so it's fall into the size S, just need your advise if the size chart is accurate? thanks in advance..

Cornelius said...

Hi Fan Teck Tsen,

I must caution you that I'm not an expert on the subject of calf guards; and to be honest, I've never had one! But I have a few pairs of long 2XU compression tights which I've been wearing for my marathons and Sunday long runs, especially when the distance is more than 30km. I'm convinced the principle behind the long tights and the calf guard is the same.

If the size chart indicates you need size S, then I believe you can safely assume that that is accurate. In fact, some people may even recommend one size smaller! But I would not recommend that.

For my long tights, according to the standard size chart, I need size S, but when I bought my first pair, XS was recommended to me. I wore it without knowing what's the difference, but I did realise that it was kinda a little too tight, especially when it was still new. However, you can be assured that the material will hold. It is very unlikely that it will tear unless if subjected to rough or sharp surfaces.

After that first pair, my subsequent tights were size S. The compression element was still good, but I think it depends very much on your main purpose of the outfit. If you're wearing the compression for RUNNING, I would recommend that you buy according to the size chart. But if you're buying for the purpose of RECOVERY, I would suggest that you buy one size smaller.

Hope that helps.

Fan Teck Tsen said...

hi Cornelius;

Thanks for the advises and it certainly help a lot.