Friday, May 6, 2011

Recovery Pump 'Review'

It has now been 4 months that I have been consistently and religiously using the Recovery Pump boots, therefore, I thought it was about time to do a little write up on why I am a believer in this product. *Disclaimer: My goal is not to 'push' readers into running out to purchase one, just because they are a sponsor of mine!* But I know there are so many gadgets out there on the market (to aid in recovery, make you faster...give you better balance...make your muscles bigger without doing anything...make you look better, get my drift) and in my opinion, if you were to looking to invest in something to ultimately help your performance (especially if you are training for longer events such as Ironman, where recovery is as if not more important than the training itself), this is an extremely useful product to consider.

First off, in simple terms, what is the Recovery Pump? The brief description straight from the website is: "An FDA approved, medical grade compression device with 4-chambered sleeves that inflate sequential from the toes to the base of the buttock. Device used for recovery in maximal, endurance sports. The Boots massage the muscles to improve circulation during use and help reduce swelling, soreness and fatigue." It was originally developed as a medical device to help patients to increase lymphatic flow and venous return. Doug Weatherby is the man behind these who you will see at many events this season, be it a WTC/Ironman event, Rev 3 event, and even a few others. If you see Doug and the Recovery Pump booth, walk on up, introduce yourself, and pick his brain a bit. He is extremely knowledgeable and if you want to know the science of it, ask him (or peruse the website). I, as the athlete, will tell you personally how I use them and why I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of them.

I started using these in January, upon training for the USA Half Marathon National Championships in Houston, TX. I would do as was instructed, which is simply sit in these post-workout for anywhere from 20 minutes up to 1.5 hour (time dependent). As you can see from the photos, set-up is extremely simple. You plug the device into an outlet (3-prong outlet), lay the legs out on a couch or an ottoman with a chair, sit down, zip up and turn them on. From taking them out of the bag to actually pumping my legs is maybe a 3 minute process. This is huge for us busy individuals; the ease of setup and usage makes it that much more practical. The event came and went, and I was fortunate to finish in the Top 20 with a 1:16.59, about a 30-second PR (mind you, I trained for about 3 weeks for this event, coming off of a nice long Christmas vacation!). Of course, some of this success can be attributed to fitness and solid training, but I cannot question the added benefit I had of even better recovery going into the Houston Half.

The season progressed into February, and this is when the cycling kicked up a notch in preparation for the triathlon season, and ultimately for Ironman Texas on May 21. The regular usage that I have continued is essentially using the Recovery Pump boots on all of my harder days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which entail a morning long and/or hard bike ride (2.5-4 hrs in duration) and an afternoon hard run (often times 8-12 miles with 4-8 miles of this at tempo to threshold pace). I will sit in the boots for between 45 min and 1.5 hrs post ride/pre run. I also try to sit in them on the lighter days when I find I am simply sitting working on my computer, simply to prepare for the next day. What 'results' have I seen? Almost every time I have these key sessions (bike/run days), I have nailed the run. For the past 4 months. I have hit the intended paces, and most of the time, exceeded the goal pace. You can ask my husband Derick; he has been with me and seen it. The interesting thing is, it is not as if I get out of the boots and suddenly feel amazing and not fatigued. Quite the contrary, my legs feel 'better', but I start my run thinking "Oh man, I sure hope the legs are there today... they still feel a bit heavy." Then we start the workout and bam, there they are. I sit in them between workouts or immediately after a hard workout and the next time I need the legs, they are there for me. So, my impression is that the boots are truly doing their work; increasing venous return, reducing swelling, soreness and fatigue in my legs so as to allow me to train stronger, faster, and more effectively. Period, that simple.

I know that many people are very busy with full-time jobs, families, etc. The one thing I can tell you is that, even if you can manage 20-30 minutes in the evening after a few key workouts that day, you can benefit from these. Training for an Ironman? Use a bit more time on the weekends post-long ride and run to sit in these for up to an hour. Having been a professional triathlete for a 9 years now, I have learned that recovery is an integral part of success. "Success" being whatever it is to you; it does not mean you have to be aiming to win the event, but maybe you are looking for that long-sought after PR in the half Ironman distance. Maybe you want to get through your first Ironman with a respectable time. What I can tell you with absolute certainty and total confidence is, the Recovery Pump boot is a useful tool to help you get to where you want to be in the sport. If you do not believe me, step into one of the booths at the next event! They will be at Rev 3 Knoxville, Florida 70.3, Ironman Texas... and that is just the next 2 weeks! Plenty of chances to try them out for yourself.

Until your next race, best of luck with your training and recovery, and thanks for reading...