I’ve been with Zoot since 2008, originally on their Ultra Team and then progressing to an individual sponsorship in 2010. The cool thing about being with a company for 5 years is that you can really see the changes in the products. I’ve been able to grow with Zoot as a company, and likewise they have seen me progress as an athlete. It has been one of those very ‘easy’ relationships vastly because I have always believed in their products, love their clothing and shoes, and most of all respect and enjoy the people that make up the company.
Zoot has got a bit of everything: Apparel, Wetsuits & Speedsuits, and Footwear. Their apparel has been the longest running in the company, dating back to 1983. Their motto is “Born in Kona” and for a good reason … Christal Nylin lived in Kona and upon watching Ironman Hawaii noticed the athletes needed more functional clothing; that which would stand up for swim, bike and run. She began experimenting and in 1996, Zoot moved to the mainland and started expanding the company. Zoot does something great; they combine function & fashion. The apparel is practically speaking functional and durable. Sports bras, running shorts, tanks and tee’s, cycling shorts, cycling tanks, jerseys…it’s well-made, fits true to size and keeps me comfortable for a workout of 30 min or 6 hours. I live in Austin, TX and with the extreme conditions here (sun, heat, wind) I still find that after one or two seasons, the Zoot apparel I have is still going. Impressive given that I spend 20-30 hours a week in this stuff. Any woman who is an athlete would be lying if she didn’t tell you that she likes to ‘look good’ when she works out! There’s no shame in that, and I’m just like anyone else. It is fun and motivating to slide into your running shorts or tank and get excited to head out for a run. Without a doubt, they have the nailed the ‘fashion’ part. Eacy year I have seen their clothing get better and better, and I’ve also gotten more compliments on the apparel; much of which I will wear casually as well as for training.
They have done wetsuits as well for quite some time, and having grown up a swimmer, I can be pretty picky about what I wear in the water. The sleeveless wetsuit as well as the full are both extremely comfortable for a swim of 20 minutes or an hour; good shoulder mobility in the full suit and overall comfort in the legs. They have started with the SpeedZoot just in 2011 and in my opinion have already nailed it. It is a thinner material, which is great for hot weather swims, and the quick release zipper eliminates the need for having to fumble around to find a string to get out of it.
The most recent (significant) addition to Zoot is their footwear line, which has grown by leaps and bounds the past few years. I’ve used the Ultra Kapilani for a few Ironmans, but will lighten it up this year to the Ultra TT 5.0 for Kona (which is also my typical Half Ironman shoe). I use the Ultra Kane and the Ultra Kalani for trainers, with the Kalani also being the shoe I wore for the 3M Half Marathon, which helped propel me to a 1:14.42 (January 2012). I find this shoe extremely cushioned yet supportive enough for a longer distances without being heavy. The Ultra Race 3.0 is what I’ve used for Olympic distance triathlons as well as 5k’s. Recently they came out with the Ultra Kiawe, which fits more like a true ‘racing flat’ and has a different feel than most of the other Zoot shoes. I love how they branched out with this one.
Bottom line: Zoot seeks feedback from athletes, addresses what people want, and they make it happen. They are a passionate bunch who care about the sport of triathlon, and seek to make quality products. They were born in 1983 in Kona and almost 30 years later, they’re still going strong.
It has now been 4 months that I have been consistently and religiously using the Recovery Pump boots, therefore, I thought it was about time to do a little write up on why I am a believer in this product. *Disclaimer: My goal is not to ‘push’ readers into running out to purchase one, just because they are a sponsor of mine!* But I know there are so many gadgets out there on the market (to aid in recovery, make you faster…give you better balance…make your muscles bigger without doing anything…make you look better, …you get my drift) and in my opinion, if you were to looking to invest in something to ultimately help your performance (especially if you are training for longer events such as Ironman, where recovery is as if not more important than the training itself), this is an extremely useful product to consider.
First off, in simple terms, what is the Recovery Pump? The brief description straight from the website is: “An FDA approved, medical grade compression device with 4-chambered sleeves that inflate sequential from the toes to the base of the buttock. Device used for recovery in maximal, endurance sports. The Boots massage the muscles to improve circulation during use and help reduce swelling, soreness and fatigue.” It was originally developed as a medical device to help patients to increase lymphatic flow and venous return. Doug Weatherby is the man behind these who you will see at many events this season, be it a WTC/Ironman event, Rev 3 event, and even a few others. If you see Doug and the Recovery Pump booth, walk on up, introduce yourself, and pick his brain a bit. He is extremely knowledgeable and if you want to know the science of it, ask him (or peruse the website). I, as the athlete, will tell you personally how I use them and why I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of them.
I started using these in January, upon training for the USA Half Marathon National Championships in Houston, TX. I would do as was instructed, which is simply sit in these post-workout for anywhere from 20 minutes up to 1.5 hour (time dependent). As you can see from the photos, set-up is extremely simple. You plug the device into an outlet (3-prong outlet), lay the legs out on a couch or an ottoman with a chair, sit down, zip up and turn them on. From taking them out of the bag to actually pumping my legs is maybe a 3 minute process. This is huge for us busy individuals; the ease of setup and usage makes it that much more practical. The event came and went, and I was fortunate to finish in the Top 20 with a 1:16.59, about a 30-second PR (mind you, I trained for about 3 weeks for this event, coming off of a nice long Christmas vacation!). Of course, some of this success can be attributed to fitness and solid training, but I cannot question the added benefit I had of even better recovery going into the Houston Half.
The season progressed into February, and this is when the cycling kicked up a notch in preparation for the triathlon season, and ultimately for Ironman Texas on May 21. The regular usage that I have continued is essentially using the Recovery Pump boots on all of my harder days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which entail a morning long and/or hard bike ride (2.5-4 hrs in duration) and an afternoon hard run (often times 8-12 miles with 4-8 miles of this at tempo to threshold pace). I will sit in the boots for between 45 min and 1.5 hrs post ride/pre run. I also try to sit in them on the lighter days when I find I am simply sitting working on my computer, simply to prepare for the next day. What ‘results’ have I seen? Almost every time I have these key sessions (bike/run days), I have nailed the run. For the past 4 months. I have hit the intended paces, and most of the time, exceeded the goal pace. You can ask my husband Derick; he has been with me and seen it. The interesting thing is, it is not as if I get out of the boots and suddenly feel amazing and not fatigued. Quite the contrary, my legs feel ‘better’, but I start my run thinking “Oh man, I sure hope the legs are there today… they still feel a bit heavy.” Then we start the workout and bam, there they are. I sit in them between workouts or immediately after a hard workout and the next time I need the legs, they are there for me. So, my impression is that the boots are truly doing their work; increasing venous return, reducing swelling, soreness and fatigue in my legs so as to allow me to train stronger, faster, and more effectively. Period, that simple.
I know that many people are very busy with full-time jobs, families, etc. The one thing I can tell you is that, even if you can manage 20-30 minutes in the evening after a few key workouts that day, you can benefit from these. Training for an Ironman? Use a bit more time on the weekends post-long ride and run to sit in these for up to an hour. Having been a professional triathlete for a 9 years now, I have learned that recovery is an integral part of success. “Success” being whatever it is to you; it does not mean you have to be aiming to win the event, but maybe you are looking for that long-sought after PR in the half Ironman distance. Maybe you want to get through your first Ironman with a respectable time. What I can tell you with absolute certainty and total confidence is, the Recovery Pump boot is a useful tool to help you get to where you want to be in the sport. If you do not believe me, step into one of the booths at the next event! They will be at Rev 3 Knoxville, Florida 70.3, Ironman Texas… and that is just the next 2 weeks! Plenty of chances to try them out for yourself.
Until your next race, best of luck with your training and recovery, and thanks for reading…
This is very cool! Check out the article below, which recently came out of Mens Fitness. I used to work at The Colorado Running Company in Colorado Springs, an excellent running shop, specialty and did a great job of fitting people for the correct shoes… plus, we had fun and drank beers after every Wednesday night run. I really only ran so that I could get free beer post-run!
Ya’ll keep up the good work, and say ‘hi’ to Pikes Peak for me.