Adventure racing is a multidisciplinary sport where racers navigate through backcountry terrain – often without the benefit of trails – using map and compass, and all manner of transport from stand up paddle boards to mountain bikes. In September Austin Parker is tackling the Adventure Xstream Series adventure race in Glenwood Springs, CO to get a taste of this grueling sport. As part of his training, we are documenting the best gear for paddling, running, biking, and recovery, as well as keeping track of all the (mis)adventure along the way.
If we could, we’d be on our bikes, trail runners, or paddleboards all day every day. However, down time and recovery is as important for training for an endurance event as every minute of training is. With that in mind, you’ve got to plan for your recovery days to be filled with “active recovery” rather than simply lazing around on the couch with your favorite protein shake (although that is important too). Whether you get out for a slow run, believe in restorative yoga, or simply back off crushing it in the gym and on the trail for a day or two, these essentials will help you step up your recovery game and ensure you keep making improvements towards race day.
What if we told you that all compression gear is not equal? Creating a serious compression garment is not as simple as making it tight, and there are actually some complex medical reasons why. There are dozens of companies out there making compression socks and tights, but after a side by side test of a few brands, CEP is our favorite. Owned by a German medical device company that makes compression garments for surgery recovery and diabetic patients, CEP’s compression tights are biomapped to individual muscle groups and have their graduated compression tuned to you body’s needs. The result? CEP socks and tights mimic your muscles when they are under load, stimulating blood flow and oxygen uptake. Although the science is still out on exactly how much you need compression (and icing and protein for that matter), we know we feel much less sore after a few hours in ours. If you’re looking for the one secret weapon to fight fatigue and soreness, these tights from CEP are it.
This year we’ve been introduced to Hydroflask beer glasses and bottles, but what we really love are their commuter mugs. The 20 ounce capacity wide mouth hauls coffee on the way to the office, protein shakes to the gym, and even hot soup when our work outs take us up above the treeline before the sun comes out. It is the perfect size for a messenger or gym bag, and the flip top lid keeps your spare set of clothes safe in your bag. The wide mouth makes cleaning a breeze, so you won’t have an excuse not to stay hydrated all day long.
We stumbled on Gnarly at our local climbing gym last year, and have become converted to their Whey and BCAA formulas ever since. They source their protein from grass fed, hormone free cows in New Zealand, and the difference is evident after your first shake. We always used to feel bloated and tired after downing a scoop or two of protein, but Gnarly’s formulation tastes better, and is much easier on our digestion. If you’re feeling like giving the whole system a test, they’ve got a bundle of protein, pre-workout, and BCAAs available too.
We couldn’t figure out why they named it the Supernova, until we felt the pain on rolling our quads out for the first time. This little ball takes foam rolling to the next level, and we can’t help bu feel the designers at Rogue Fitness probably get a little kick out of inflicting that kind of agony. If you can push through the pain of working knots out of your overused muscles, then this massage ball will become one of your most important tools in staying injury free. The secret is in the design. Rather than spikes or foam like similar products, the Supernova’s ridges and structure are designed to create shearing forces in your muscles that penetrate deeper into soft tissue for more therapeutic benefits.
One of the things you should invest in whether you work out at home, hit up the local Crossfit Box, or work out at a huge gym is your own yoga mat. It will save your knees and back when doing stretches after a workout, and more importantly, you will know who has used it and how it gets clean – no more worry about catching ring worm from that sketchy dude in the lycra shorts from 1970 who sweats all over the mats at the gym. We like YogaRat because this little combo is perfect for any environment. Their mats are natually grippy and thick, and the addition of the towel keeps it sweat free even when you’re in that early morning hot yoga class. We also travel with the towel quite a bit, as it’s a good option for hotel room stretching and workouts when you’re on the road and space is limited.