Hello you lovely people - it’s been a long time since we’ve spoken, I feel. That’s partly because I’ve been a bit lazy with running, just chugging along with training idly, and I’ve not been testing things as often.
However, I’ve now started training for the Abingdon Marathon in October this year, and I really, really want to try to trickle under three hours for this one. Yes, that’s the Holy Grail for so many marathon runners, and it’s a bit jump for me (my previous best has been 3:09) but I feel it might be possible if I train correctly.
So I had a look through the various running gadgets and bits and pieces that I’ve been sent over the last few months, and there was one that I meant to use around the London Marathon but didn’t get around to: the Hyperice Vyper (well, technically the Hyperice Vyper 2.0).
This thing is unbelievable. It may look like a basic foam roller, but it’s one of the greatest bits of running tech I’ve ever used. You can just use it as a roller, but that avoids one of the best bits of it: the fact that this thing vibrates, delivering a deeper, more complete post-run recovery.
What is a foam roller?
If you’ve never used one before, a foam roller is a solid cylinder of foam that you place a tired leg muscle on, lower your weight onto said muscle, and roll it back and forth.
For the uninitiated, the rolling can make you cry with pain if you’re really stiff… but annoyingly does actually help release said muscles.
There are three levels of vibration, with the first a relatively modest rumble. This setting is good for beginners (as I found out when showing one new runner this) because the feeling of using a vibrating roller for the first time is weird enough, so simpler is definitely better.
Then you can crank thing up a notch and go to level two. This is like a deep tickle, the muscles getting jiggled around in a targeted way, and you can definitely feel the depth of the vibration going deeper.
If you ever own the Hyperice Vyper, you’ll never spend time in these first two modes after day one. Trust me, head to level three and you’ll be greeted with something like a bucking bronco fused with a recovery aid.
My god, it’s wonderful though. It not only delivers a really deep and refreshing release of the muscles, but it also seems to reduce the amount of pain a roller usually brings.
I think that’s more down to how distracting this thing is though, as it’s actually quite hard to keep it under control.
Turn it on before placing a body part on it, and you’ll find that it’s moving around a lot on the floor (watching it bouncing around a hard floor being quite entertaining to watch… it scares the living daylights out of a pet that’s just wandered in though).
Even when you’ve locked the Vyper under a limb, it’s still trying to escape, such is the power of the motor inside. I often had to readjust during a roll, and sometimes found I’d slowly made my way across the room trying to chase the bouncy cylinder.
It’s also so loud. Like, you can’t really use this with thin walls or floors - it can be heard so easily just by itself, and when you're rolling on it you're forcing the vibrations into the floor.
This was actually something of an issue as it limited the time I could roll - I sometimes enjoyed a night run and didn’t feel comfortable using it when I got in, lest I wake the neighbours.
I should probably mention the cost: the Hyperice Vyper cost is a rather high £150 / $199, which will seem eye-watering for some and is clearly a significant investment in your running recovery.
Here’s the thing though: if you’re training for a marathon or brutalizing your legs in some other way, it’s utterly worth it.
The reason I’m so effusive about this is that it makes my legs feel magical after each run - I actually look forward to using it at the end of a hard tempo run.
The only tough thing, when I’ve pushed myself hard, is the effort required to hold myself up while rolling it under my calf or thigh - but that aside, it feels wonderful.
It feels like someone has gone inside my legs and taken a cold hose to each muscle, freeing it from its tense prison - I’ve never experienced anything like it, even with a post-race massage.
Perhaps some of the feeling comes from the fact it’s such a novelty and it might be less cool in the future - but I can’t see that if it keeps my legs feeling good under heavy mileage load.
The battery life is pretty good too - it takes a few hours to charge the Hyperice Vyper up from dead, but I’ve been able to port it around with me and not worry about the charge level for days on end.
This feels like the ultimate ‘big gift’ for a runner at Christmas or on their birthday - yes, it’s an investment, but think of it the same way you might about trainers and it starts to make sense.
Perhaps try and have a go on one first though, because it really is a weird sensation…
- Gareth Beavis is TechRadar's Running Man of Tech, testing the latest in fitness technology in a never-ending quest to run further and faster and bringing you the results in this column.
- If you want to say hi, he's @superbeav on Twitter
- You can see his stumblings on Strava
- And for more data, follow him on Smashrun
- And if you want to get the full lowdown on the latest and greatest running tech, read the rest of the Running Man of Tech story here