Compression clothing is one of the hot topics among runners these days, whether the discussion centres around compression shorts – and whether to wear other shorts over the top of them – or the pros and cons of compression socks. The latter are supposed to be great for supporting leg muscles during long runs, but I have a running friend for whom they caused all sorts of problems. And then there are compression tops. Both my running partner and I wear these, my friend’s being short sleeved Nike gear, whereas I opted for a lesser known brand, and went with the long sleeved Time To Run compression shirt. These are widely available in the UK, including Amazon where I got mine from. And there are several reasons for wearing one, ranging from increasing your performance, to just pure comfort.
Why Wear Compression Shirts?
All compression gear is designed to enhance performance by preventing muscle oscillations which can lead to fatigue and even injury. It is alleged to speed up recovery after exercise too, by facilitating the removal of lactate from tired muscles. Often it is hard to find any plausible documentary evidence which proves the benefits, and so it remains – for me at least – a case of try it out and experiment with it.
When I first started running I was overweight and flabby, and found that the flab bounced around when I ran. Wearing the Time To Run compression shirt that I’d bought held everything together for me, and this made me feel faster and increased my performance, as there was less ‘wobble’. Nowadays I still wear the compression top under my regular technical running shirts, but it serves a different purpose now.
Something else I found when I ran on longer, hotter routes – or when running in pouring rain – was that my usual shirt would become waterlogged, either with sweat or rainwater. This then proceeded to grind away at my skin causing terrible soreness on my nipples – the dreaded Runner’s Nipple! You only really need to go through that once or twice to decide something needs to be done about it. For the record, it’s not overly painful, but just stingingly irritating, and getting the blood out of the running shirts is always a pain. My solution was to use Vaseline for shorter runs (eg 5K) in good weather. But for bad weather or longer treks, I was using the compression top, which fitted fairly tightly to my chest and didn’t rub my skin, even though I did still get wet.
Overall, I feel I get great benefits out of this type of clothing, even if it is, partially at least, a placebo effect. I definitely have never had a recurrence of Runner’s Nip while wearing my base layer.
The Time To Run Compression Top
Compression for running and cycling is big business and most of the well-known brands have their own offering, whether they are more general ones such as Nike, or whether they are specialised companies like Under Armour, 2XU or Skins. I was just feeling like bargain hunting when I chose my top, especially as I wasn’t so convinced about the benefits. I decided to get the lowest priced product I could find in order to try it out. This happened to be the Time to Run Python Long Sleeve compression shirt, and I have to admit I’m really pleased with it.
I already wear a lot of Time To Run gear, mainly running shirts, both long and short sleeved, again because they are somewhat technical but are low priced. I have tried other shirts, for example Asics, and have found that none of them wick moisture as fast as I can produce it! So I’m always wringing wet after a run, and it makes sense to go for cheap and comfy rather than expensive and comfy, given that none of them keep me dry.
The Time To Run base layer, like all compression base layers, took some getting into. They are designed to be seriously tight, but are very stretchy, so once you are in and used to it, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or interfere with your breathing. It does mean you have to ensure you choose the correct size though.
I found it comfortable underneath my other shirts, and that it stayed in place perfectly with no rubbing and no need for any other form of anti-chafing, such as Vaseline or Bodyglide. So it did the job that I wanted perfectly. It definitely got wet during 10K runs, and I found that the shirt channelled the sweat downwards so it ended up pouring from my shorts – not a pretty look, but that’s the only downside and frankly, when I’ve got my race face on, I don’t care about things like that.
For the price, thoroughly recommended, though if you are reading this review from outside the UK, you might need to find an alternative brand or pay extra shipping and buy this via the UK version of Amazon. You can check out the official website here, to see what else they have to offer, and although subject to change, at the time I’m writing this, the Python compression shirt is on offer at £14.99.
If you prefer the bigger brands, or are US-based, you might consider these alternatives:
Under Armour Compression