Compression Socks – On the Cheap

They say accessories make the outfit. Running accessories will make you broke.

Confession: I wore $7 compression socks from CVS during last week’s run, and they were fab.

Why would I even need compression socks on a run, you ask? During last year’s marathon training, I discovered that at upon running somewhere over 12 miles, my feet start to blow up like helium balloons, with detrimental effects. Here’s a little cause-and-effect lesson for you, because you can never have enough marathoner foot drama in your day. You’re welcome.

  • Long runs (13+ miles) ———> Feet swelling
  • Feet swelling ———> Toes get pummeled
  • Toes get pummeled ———> Black toenails
  • Black toenails ———-> Pedicure colors are limited to the darks.

When this started happening last year, my Badass Running Coach Erin suggested wearing compression socks or calf sleeves for long runs, to stave off the swelling. I had only worn them after runs for recovery, prior to that. So I gave it a shot, and while my toenails were beyond help, they did significantly reduce the swelling.

The problem is, that most compression socks for running are not cheap. I have bought a couple of pairs from online discounters and I wash them on the super-delicate cycle and guard them like gold. In a particularly desperate moment when my toenails were about ready to fall off, I bought a pair of calf sleeves that have pockets for ice packs. Srsly. They were crazy-expensive (they even came with a cooler bag that you put the ice packs into while you’re racing). Running is the cheapest sport in which you spend a ton of money, and that buy proved it. Not that I don’t use them, I do use them often, and they are nice, but they are kind of ridiculous, they way that $40 balsamic vinegar is quite enjoyable but quite ridiculous, amIright?

Anyway, on a recent trip to the Jersey Shore, I forgot to pack a pair of compression socks for my 9-mile long run, the first long run of this training cycle. I thought it unfair to my poor little tootsies to pummel them right of the bat. (Let’s save that for the 20 milers, shall we?)

While I was at CVS picking up more sunscreen, I thought I’d see what they had in the sock section. In with the cheap pantyhose and cotton crew socks, were those dark, stretchy compression socks, that always seem to have a picture of a business travelers on the front.

compression socks marathon training

This is not the brand I got, but you get the idea.

They felt okay, so I spent the $6.39 and gave it a try. (Worst case, I thought I’d wear them under pants while I’m teaching. There are days where I often do not sit, even to pee, for 6+ hours. Hello, swollen, bulbous clodhoppers.)

I am happy to say that they were AWESOME.

compression socks marathon training long runs

Shhhh, ancient Chinese secret…

They were actually pretty soft, and just thick enough that I didn’t feel like I needed another pair of socks over them. The material breathed nicely (it was a fairly hot run) and I hardly noticed I was wearing them. Being they were unisex, they were a little long, but I just folded the top down a couple of inches. The best part? NO SWOLLEN FEET.

So if you’re willing to wear compression socks with no fancy logos (unlike when I was in 7th grade and had to wear generic Calvin Klein jeans – yes I’m still traumatized by it) and want to save some serious dough, get thyself to a Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, or your drugstore of choice and check out their assortment of compression socks pronto.

Your toes will thank you, and so will I for not having to look at your nasty black toenails. Paint over those things, already, will ya?

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One thought on “Compression Socks – On the Cheap

  1. So glad I came across this Web page. I was wearing compression socks from a surgery I had about 10 years ago. I was contemplating the exact same socks but someone gave them a bad review. You answered my question about wearing another pair of socks with it. Thanks Nancy!!

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