Lily Trotters compression socks review: great performance (and cute)

Lily Trotter

I rarely wear socks when I run, but I love socks. For years I’ve bought a new pair of great ankle socks before every 5K, just because. A couple of years ago I asked my family to give me nothing but fun, zany knee-highs.

So when I got an email from Lily Trotters offering to send me a pair of their proprietary 100% micro nylon weave compression socks to try, I thought, Sure, that’d be great. Then I saw that they were zany compression socks. Yes please!

I understand three things about compression socks:
• Traditionally, they are boring to look at.
• Some people, including long-distance runners, really rely on compression socks.
• At races, the compression socks I see tend to be really race-y looking: neon solids or black, and all business. Great for races, but maybe not so great in a non-running context.

So basically, everything I knew was from an indirect, observational point of view. Then I put on my polka dot knee-high Lily Trotters.

Lily Trotters compression socks

A little cray for my typical running look, but not bad.

First I wore them around the house for a few hours. They went on easy enough, then, girl — they held me tight, but comfortably so. I have to say, the material felt especially quality.

Remember when I said I asked my family to gift me with weird socks? That made me sound more personally interesting than I actually am. Normally I only wear knee-high socks in fall and winter, underneath pants and boots. Sometimes part of a colorful little stripe will peek out beneath a trouser hem if I happen to be wearing them with a low-top shoe. So crazy!

So, wearing hot pink and neon-green polka dot compression knee-highs, with the tiniest pink ruffle at the top, while wearing running shorts, was quite a first for me.

Know what? They functioned really well. I typically don’t need to wear compression socks while running, but they felt really good, as good as any high-performance sock I’ve bought for running.

Also, something I didn’t expect: My feet were just about daisy fresh after wearing them all day. I took a look at the materials, and it ends up that the socks are not just moisture-wicking, but they’re also antimicrobial.

There are women who deal with deep vein thrombosis, who sit at a desk all day, who chase kids, who travel a lot, or who just like a good pair of supportive socks. I can imagine those women would be tired of the same clinical-looking, medically-necessary aesthetic when going for a purchase.

Well, my pair is darn cute — and I’ve seen enough running skirts at races to know that cute is a big factor for some of you beastly lady runners when deciding what to buy. The creators say these socks are built strong enough for ultras, but they’re thin and cute enough to wear in a non-athletic context, too.

Lily Trotters launched a Kickstarter this morning (Tuesday 7/14). If you’re into compression socks and are tired of the same predictable colors and lack of patterns, keep up over at lilytrotters.com. The plan is for them to come in five designs with various color options. They’re also sourced and made right here in the U.S. of A.

Lily Trotters compression socks

Le sock options.

Food for thought on compression socks

Do Compression Socks Really Work?
Study: Wearing Compression Socks Post-Marathon Improves Recovery
Sports Science Update: Did Meb’s Socks Help Him PR?

5 first-time marathoner problems

Brooks PureConnect running shoes for the marathon first-timer: me

Five weeks out isn’t too close to the race for new shoes … right?

I’m training for the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, my first-time full. I’ve run three half marathons, but can I say something? I’m starting to freak out about this full-business.

The race is Dec. 14, which means five weeks to go. Am I ready? Will I have enough phone battery? Am I going to be able to complete it without blowing a ligament? Why does my training plan only go to 20 miles before tapering?

Maybe you’re training for your first, too, or you remember these concerns way back when you were a noob wannabe like me.

5. Is my phone battery going to last for 26.2 miles?

During the race, I won’t be using Google Maps to check where I am like I do on many of my runs. That’s my fault, because I usually insist on running willy-nilly style — taking off into streets and neighborhoods where I have no clue where I am. Mapping my location sucks up the most battery of anything else I do with my phone, including streaming music.

I’ve done 18 miles while listening to music, running the Nike Run app but not checking Google Maps, and I’ve ended with a good 20 percent battery left. But I have yet to know what 26.2 miles will leave me with. I’ll likely leave the earbuds at home because I love experiencing the sights, sounds and energy of the day. So, not listening to NPR or music will help save battery. But I’ll be using my phone to locate friends before the race, and I’ll want to locate my husband easily among the throngs afterward.

I can only guess what my battery situation will be, so I’ll just have to see.

But hey. What did runners before smartphones do? They planned meeting spots and guessed as best they could at a meeting time.

4. What all am I going to carry on race day? How am I going to carry it?

I can’t believe I’m still futzing around with this juggling act.

This entire time, since April, I’ve had the carry thing down so pat that I can mindlessly “pack” in 30 seconds flat: Put ice in hand-held Nathan water bottle, then add water. Pop a gel or two in the pocket, along with a credit card. Dig my earphones out of my bag and grab my phone. Done.

But now that I’m reaching higher mileage, what I’ve been carrying this whole time isn’t quite adequate.

The amount of water is fine; cooler temperatures have me drinking a little less. But I not only need to consume more gels now, my body is dying for protein about halfway through, too. A few times lately, I’ve stopped at gas stations to grab beef jerky and Snickers or Butterfinger Bites to shove in my mouth. It’s a disgusting combo that I would normally never put together (or eat at all, at least not on a regular basis). But my body needs it. I can feel all sorts of magic happening on my insides when I eat it.

Does that mean I’m not intaking enough gels up to that point, causing my body to need it so badly at mile 14? That’s another first-timer mystery I have to work out.

Thing is, Dallas Marathon isn’t going to have beef jerky stations. They’ll have Clif Shot stations, but I have my own gels I want to bring. I’m new at this, I’m fussy with my gels, so I’ll have to tote my own. I won’t bring my water bottle on race day, so there goes the little zippered pocket I typically use. I’ve seen runners clip gels to their clothes with those office wing-clip things; I might do that. I’ll have to tote some protein with me as well. I guess I could have a beef stick flopping around, clipped to my waistband.

I bought a FlipBelt recently, and it holds a lot. But when I’m wearing shorts with slick fabric, the belt slips up toward my waist, which is no good. That’s another thing I have to get figured out before race day: make sure the tights I want to wear jibe with this new FlipBelt of mine, so I can carry all my Stuff.

Yes, I’m a needy newbie who needs her Stuff.

3. How close to race day can I buy that new pair of shoes/tights/bra?

I just bought a new pair of Brooks PureConnects, and I’m pretty certain that five weeks out is enough time to break them in. But I need a new pair of long tights, and I probably won’t get a chance to shop for any until a couple of weeks from now. If I get a good couple of runs in them, it will probably be fine. … Or will it? Do I need several long runs in a key article of clothing to know for sure that I’m not going to quit in agony because of Bloody Blister or Fire Crotch? That might be a little dramatic.

Speaking of buying new things close to race day, I also bought a slew of new protein energy goodies from Luke’s Locker to try — more than I have long runs left, actually. But they looked so tasty. I need to decide if one of these is my protein solution, but again — we’re getting close to race day. Bah.

The new shoes were something I needed. But honestly, everything else I’m tempted to buy this late in the game is really just a big spaz-out attempt at feeling like I have a little extra edge.

2. What is that pain about?

We runners know a thing or four about aches and pains. I wrote about my current ankle pain recently here. Unless pains are obviously serious, they’re usually no big deal. We’ve learned our bodies well enough to know when a body part is just protesting a bit and when it’s sending a warning signal. But new pain anywhere close to race date is scary. We don’t know if it’s just a protest pain or if it’s the beginning of an actual issue that could sabotage all our hard work.

1. Is my name going to end up at the bottom of my age group results?

Am I going to bonk? Blow? Embarrass myself? My training plan only goes to 20 miles, so I’ll be going into the race totally untested at 26.2.

Logic says that if I’ve put in the work, and no unlikely funky factors come into play, I’ll be fine and complete the marathon. But my nervousness about this is more fundamental than, how badly am I going to suck?

Like many first-timers, I know it’s smart to simply focus on completing the race and not on pushing through it like it’s my 400th and I’m getting paid. But still, deep down, I’m attached to this thing. I’ve put in so much time (so much time). I’ve pushed my body’s previously-known boundaries. That pushed the limits of my mind. Which shifted my self-perception.

We new marathoners have hated our training, uttered “I’m SO over this” countless times during long runs. We might have cried (no, not me — I’m just asking for a friend). Then we’ve loved it again, uttering thanks to God for the ability to move and breathe and feel.

For some of us, this hard physical work has beat demons, given us answers, made us new.

We’re emotionally attached to the process that’s brought us to this point. If that process culminates in defeat, failure or disappointment, it will feel like my body has betrayed me. Like I’ve betrayed myself.

The stakes feel so high. Not because anyone is betting on us, but because we’ve put in some really hard work.

So let’s do this: Remember when we got one season of half marathon training under our belt, then one race? After that, we totally knew what to expect and could relax for subsequent halves.

We just have to do the same with our first full. We’ll make mistakes, but we’ll learn.

33 thoughts I always have before I go on a run in Dallas

Yes, BuzzFeed is already doing the dickens out of this blog post style, but I’ve yet to see one about running, and I definitely haven’t seen one about running in Dallas.

I’m an afternoon/evening runner, so this is a sampling of thoughts that ping my brain throughout the day leading up.

1. Good lord, it’s too hot to run.
2. Do I have any clean running tights? Gross.
3. I need to eat an extra piece of peanut butter, banana and flaxseed on spelt toast so I don’t bonk.
4. All I’ve had to drink today is coffee. That’s water, right?
5. Do I run the Katy Trail or run to Bishop Arts or run the Jefferson bridge into downtown and to Deep Ellum and back or run an out-and-back at White Rock Lake or …
6. Running tights are dirty. All dirty.
7. I could wear running shorts but I haven’t shaved my legs in a week.

Larabar

8. It’s spring and it’s in the 90s. Why did my ancestors drag their covered wagon to this godforsaken toaster oven.
9. Ooh, a forgotten Larabar in my cubicle drawer. I’d better eat this so I don’t bonk.
10. Crap, left my Nike Frees in my husband’s car.
11. Don’t want to wear my Brooks PureFlows. No way to keep the tongues in place. Stupid design.
12. Don’t want to wear my specialized-and-really-ugly Asics I got when I was dealing with sesamoiditis.sesamoiditis
13. My trail shoe it is. Maybe I should go to Cedar Ridge Preserve.
14. My RunKeeper training plan says today is a tempo run. I can’t tempo-run in what-passes-for-mountains-in-Dallas.
15. Mountains. In North Texas. Hilarious.
16. Why did my ancestors come here, again?
17. Great, my sports bras are all dirty.
18. So what, sports bras are supposed to be dirty. Dried sweat ain’t never hurt nobody.
19. I can’t deal with all the cyclists at White Rock today.
20. I can’t deal with all the street dogs in Oak Cliff today.
21. I can’t deal with all the 2-abreast walkers, jogging strollers, and cyclists on Katy Trail today.
22. Katy Trail Ice House is on Katy Trial. There are margaritas there.
23. I can’t stop in the middle of my run for a margarita. Alone. Pathetic.
24. That’s it; I’m running around Lake Cliff Park. It’s flat. Feral dog-free. Relatively.
25. Is it hot enough to drag around a hand-held water bottle already? Ugh.
26. Is it so hot that I need to bust out the CamelBak? Ugh.
27. If I wear underwear with these running tights, that’s basically like they’re clean.
28. I love Texas heat, I really do. God bless Texas. I love you.
29. I need more sports bras. Good ones.
30. Good sports bras are expensive.
31. Running is expensive.
32. At least I’m not a cyclist. Now that’s expensive. Right?
33. Wait, I did fartleks yesterday. Screwed up my schedule. I’m taking a rest day.