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Let Red Venom give your hamstrings a cuddle

by Paul Hayward
Tuesday 7th July 2015
Tags  Red Venom   |   Compression

Product review: Our obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward puts some Red Venom compression clothing to the test

Red Venom review

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) maybe somewhat of a niche market at the moment compared to other sports such as running or cycling, but that does not stopped competitors looking for kit to improve their comfort or their performance. From Dryrobes to specialist OCR running shoes from Reebok and inov-8, the sport is quickly attracting a lot of different kit options.

One option, that is greatly discussed and desired, is compression in the form of shirts, shorts and calf guards. However these pieces of equipment do not come cheap and can range from £50.00 upwards for a tshirt or £20.00 for some calf guards. So when I was approached by Red Venom, a company that offers compression at half the price of other retailers, I was instantly interested.

The beauty of compression is that it is designed to offer marginal gains to all of us by “enhancing aerobic threshold, increasing VO2max, and clearing lactate from the muscles more efficiently”, by using it during and after exercise / racing.

With this in mind I set about testing their compression t-shirt and compression shorts across a number of OCRs, including the OCR UK Championship Qualifier, the Reaper OCR (HERE) and the Suffering (HERE) to see if they could perform and actually add anything to my performance.

Red Venom review

Initial thoughts on design and feel

The feel of the shirt and the shorts are smooth; like a superior tech shirt that gives the impression of silk. Luckily they are not made out of silk but they do fit very well and your body feels very comfortable within them. I sometimes worry that compression gear can choke you or make your body feel restricted but fortunately this is not the case with Red Venom compression and I did not feel hindered at all; I could breathe easily.

I felt comfortable from the start with the shorts comfortably cuddling my hamstrings and the t-shirt supporting my whole chest and back nicely.

Stepping up the test to an OCR

I decided, in the style of Team inov-8 OCR’s newest member, Thomas Blanc, to wear my compression shorts and shirt under my shorts and race shirt for my OCRs. I had imagined that this would feel strange or for some reason it would not work, but like another layer of skin it accompanied my race kit perfectly and importantly did not restrict me.

During the Reaper we were treated to sunshine and a number of water based obstacles, such as skips full of ice and rivers, and I feared for my comfort, due to wet heavy clothing, or being too warm and overheating. Red Venom’s compression gear performed in both of these areas and did not absorb any more water than normal OCR shirts and shorts would. Importantly it drained and I did not feel weighed down or hindered as I jumped in and out of water with the extra layer. In the heat it breathed well and I did not feel dehydrated or an urge to rip it off at any point during the race.

The Reaper was a UK Championship qualifier and I decided to push quite hard and go for qualification. I ran harder and faster than I normally would and the compression shorts hugged my hamstrings and allowed me to feel competitive. I felt that I could push more so than I normally would. Although my fitness has improved a lot over the last few months with my Ironman training, the addition of compression has enabled me to feel stronger come race day and I certainly felt some form of gain as the race went on.

With this in mind, I decided to test the kit across the Suffering Legend weekender and run without it on the Saturday, taking on a 5k (actually 5 miles) and a 10K (actually 9.8 miles), and then using it to aid my completion of the last race, the 10 mile (actually 13.8 miles). The theory behind this was that my body would be broken from Saturday and if compression was going to prove helpful then it would need to do so on Sunday.

On the Sunday morning my body was in pieces. Despite a hot bath, regular stretching and an early night on Saturday, my hamstrings were screaming and my chest ached beyond belief. On getting dressed, and wrapping myself in Red Venom, I actually asked myself if I was crazy taking the final race on when Saturday had taken such a toll.

The pain continued through the warm up and for the first few miles, but as the distance started ticking away my body began to come alive and feel more responsive. I fully appreciate that it could be as my muscles had warmed up but my hamstrings did not feel tight and my arms / chest did not ache when called upon to hoist me over walls or up a frames. The Red Venom compression enabled me to push through these obstacles, the running and the hills to make the finish line, in some form.

Depending on the science and your view, compression can add marginal gains to your running and your ability to compete. I certainly believe it has allowed me to run harder and faster for longer and Red Venom’s range has offered this 'gain' at half the cost of other suppliers, without compromising on quality or performance. I certainly notice the difference in running without it now and when I am aching or struggling, Red Venom offer a way to hinder these issues a little and make the finish line more achievable.

If you are looking at getting some compression gear, then Red Venom should figure in your plans. It may not be as brightly coloured as other brands but it delivers where it is important, by allowing you to push through and supporting you when needed - at a fraction of the cost. 

Red Venom review

More information on Red Venom can be found here: redvenom.co.uk  or on their Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/RedVenom.co.ukLtd


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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