CEP Compression Socks Review

I had no idea why anyone would wear long neck socks. I thought soccer players wear them to protect their shins from accidental kicks. Or for some older runners or female runners, they wear them to make a fashion statement, albeit not my kind of fashion, I thought.

Well, it turned out that runners wear them for a reason. It was to speed up their recovery by helping blood flow better through stretched and tired blood vessels. Only after watching training and post recovery routine videos, I learned that all the colorful long neck socks were not just for the looks.

So after learning that they could help with recovery, I started looking at getting a pair for myself to test. And I discovered that there are many choices available.

Many claiming their medical benefits of wearing them, and even more with fancier graphics by dozens of manufacturers. Yet there were mainly 3 choices:

  • Compression sleeves
  • Compression socks
  • Compression tights

I figured that getting socks would make the most sense because it’s easier to put on then tights, yet would be more effective than sleeves without foot compression. So I started to look for the most reputable brand, and found CEP. From what I could tell, CEP has been making sports medical compression socks over many years, and considered as a gold standard.

So I got a pair of CEP compression socks. I got my pair around early February, and think I paid around $50 on Amazon. It comes in 3 sizes, and I ended up getting a middle one, size 4. As a reference, I am about 6-feet tall weighing around 172 lb.

A few things that I noticed right away.

  • The socks felt that they were made with attention to detail, and had a good built quality to them.
  • The socks had a sock for left foot and another for right. I think it was because of different compression points depending on the left or right foot.
  • At first it is not easy to put them on. They are meant to be worn tight, and there is a technique to putting them on easily. I saw many YouTube videos demonstrating the technique. Hers is one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdgT6-bc9Zk.
  • Although they were difficult to put them on, once they are on it did not feel restrictive on my legs. They were definitely tight, but they were not uncomfortable.

After the initial try, I must have used 3 or 4 times after my long runs. Most importantly, I put them on after my marathon to help with my recovery. I must say I do not have any solid evidence that the socks actually helped speed up my recovery, but the feel of having tight socks compressing my legs was nice after long race. Especially after suffering leg cramps on my both legs toward the end of marathon, they felt great on my legs.

I think for nothing else other than having a tight compression feel on the legs after long race, it’s worth trying them out.

From the description, CEP actually recommends running with the compression socks on. I haven’t yet tried it myself. If I try, I would have to pick early morning run. I still think that long neck socks are not a kind of fashion statement I want make, and would feel self-conscious if I get spotted by someone.



5 Weeks of Easy Runs

On April 18th, I have started running mostly easy runs at about 140 heart beats per minute. Watching my heart rate kept my pace at 9:40 minute mile. If you ask me earlier to run at that pace, I would have dismissed it thinking that I won’t be getting any training benefit. Compared to the earlier pace of 7:40 minute mile, 9:40 felt like a long warm up without a climax. But that was what my heart rate told me that I needed to train at.

Running easy meant that I could run more days. I used to be happy with getting 3 days of run each week. Running easy allowed me to squeeze in another couple of runs per week without feeling too tired. So by running easy, I could increase my weekly mileage to 30 miles per week over time. Over the last couple of weeks, I was able to log 30+ miles each week. That would not have been possible unless I have gotten most of miles from my easy runs.

It may be little premature to report the progress. But I feel a lot better about doing my 5-6 milers. I am more relaxed, and I do not have to dig in deep to finish the run strong. Even after finishing my runs, I feel as though I can go on for another hour or so. And all of that while increasing my easy running pace to 9 minute mile.

It’s very counter intuitive. I have been training all these time at much higher intensity, and remember running just as much as I have been training. But for whatever reason, easy runs are really allowing me to increase my easy run pace without getting tired as much. I did not see that benefit when I was training for my first marathon earlier in the year.

I can see how easy runs can improve my aerobic capacity and overall running pace. I just have to keep at it.


Dr. Philip Maffetone’s Magic 180 Rule

For the last couple of weeks, I have been training at 135 – 142 heart rate for most of my weekly training runs. With that heart rate range, I can maintain about 9:30 to 10:00 minute per mile pace for 5 – 6 miles. That’s about a minute and 15 seconds slower than my marathon pace. It takes a practice to maintain the speed as I have been accustomed to push myself to do 8 minute miles or into 7:45 minute mile pace on my previous long runs.

The reason was that I recently re-discovered the Dr. Philip Maffetone’s Magic 180 Rule. It’s about how low intensity aerobic workout is the key to increasing aerobic capacity. At about 70% of maximum heart rate, runners can build their aerobic capacity, improve their running mechanics, reduce the chance of injury, and allow for faster recovery time, hence making it possible to put in more miles. And these low intensity easy runs should make up about 80% of training.

The name Magic 180 comes from the fact that runners are to subtract their age from 180 to get their target training heart rate, and adjust it by their running history, illness, and physical readiness.

Dr. Maffetone originally calculated these numbers for individual runners, but eventually saw patterns in them, and created the Magic 180 rule. (You can read more about it here.)

For me, that meant I needed to train at about 135 – 140 heart rate range to optimally increase my aerobic capacity, which I have not been doing much. 90% of my runs were tempo runs at 8 minute mile pace. I haven’t been measuring heart rate on recent runs, but I bet that they were around 150 – 160 range.

So I decided to give the Magic 180 rule a try. I started running most of my runs at 135 – 140 heart rate range. It’s been two weeks since I dusted off my heart rate chest belt, and started wearing them for my runs.

Stay tuned to find out how the Magic 180 rule is working for an average runner.