ASICS Gel-Pursue [Shoe Review]

When I first started getting more serious about running and I went to a running store to buy shoes, I remember that the ASICS brand seemed to be what many of my new marathon-crazy friends wore. But when I went through the fit process, a pair of ASICS weren’t even brought out as an option, I tried shoes on,  I left with a different shoe, and I’ve never actually worn ASICS.

Until now… [Disclaimer: I was sent shoes in exchange for my honest review on the site.]

I was given the opportunity to try a new shoe, the Gel Pursue from ASICS, and I decided to give it a go. They didn’t fit the mold of the zero-drop shoes I’ve been running in of late, but they did receive the “Best Debut” honor from Runner’s World magazine in the September 2014 issue and I’m always open to experiment (for you, the sake of my readers!) with running products.

They’re attractive shoes, my 2-year-old was very impressed with the “purple running shoes” that arrived.

asics-gel-pursue-side.jpg

In fact, she insisted that we wear our “match shoes” out on a walk together.

That kid is so damn clever and cute.

Putting the ASICS Gel-Pursue on, I felt taller in them, as if I was wearing heels. That’s probably due to the roughly 9mm heel-to-toe drop. But they also have a nice amount of cushioning to them and they’re SUPER comfortable. I haven’t gotten a lot of running miles in them due to a weird pain in my hip (I’m unwilling to say it’s due to product experimentation, just a circumstance of life.) but I’ve worn these shoes for a lot of walks too and they felt great for that.

Some details:

  • They’re pretty lightweight, 8.7 oz for the women’s shoe, 10.6 oz for the men’s version
  • Support level good for a wide-range of runners (from a more neutral foot to a mild-moderate pronator)
  • They look nice without being overly flashy. My husband HATES all the bright colors all over shoes these days, these would be a good option for someone like that.
  • Standard price point for quality running shoes: $110

asics-gel-pursue-top.jpg

They’re comfy and well-made running shoes. They may not become my go-to, all-the-time running shoes, it still feels strange to me to have a heel/toe offset after 3ish years in pretty minimal shoes… but I’m also willing to rotate them in to my training cycle and give them a solid try. Or maybe if I ramp up for marathon training, I’ll want to revert back… I’ve never done a marathon in zero-drop! The cushioning definitely felt nice without feeling like a clown shoe and overall I liked these shoes quite a bit.

And remember, if you are running the 2014 NYC Marathon, visit ASICS Mini Marathoner site and get a statue version of yourself running!

One more… Check out the My ASICS website where you can build a training plan for any race distance. It’s kind of cool that you can set a date for a race way in the future and it will help you with a free plan. I think it’s kind of fun to play with, even if I would end up tweaking the schedule anyway. It’s just great to get new ideas.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Multi Flask

I was sent a Multi Flask by Precidio Design to test and review on the site. I was kind of intrigued by the description so I was willing to give it a go.

This newly, launched all-in-one system makes it easy to bring all kinds of healthy drinks on the go — without cluttering up the cabinets with eigth different bottles.

Simply enjoy your favorite drinks in one easy to carry bottle.

This complete drinking system allows you to create healthy, delicious fruit-infused drinks, power shakes and sports drinks, filtered drinks and all forms of hot & cold beverages in your best flavors. Equipped with a glass inner for hot beverages, a plastic inner that can be insulated or not for cool drinks, an infuser and a novel agitator cap for powder drinks, Multi Flask is the purest way to drink healthy.

The one-flask-six-functions system is dishwasher safe, making it easy to create drinks on the fly with minimal clean up.

One of the most exciting features of Multi Flask is that you can enjoy the benefits of glass safely with its patented inner glass design and protective, silicone shock-absorbing base. Enclosed in an indestructible Tritan outer shell, Multi Flask is the one bottle you need today.

multi-flask-box.jpg

I unpacked it and was a little overwhelmed with all the parts. I had to go to the Multi Flask website to figure out what each one was and how they all worked together. It’s not often that I need instructions to figure out how to drink from a vessel.

multi-flask-parts.jpg

And after having it for a month, here’s what gets used regularly:

multi-flask-parts-used.jpg

That’s the Tritan Outer, the Agitator and the Sport lid. The agitator is useful for shaking up powdered drinks and helping them get mixed up well.

Odds are you would never use this bottle while running, unless you really don’t mind holding on to something. It would work fine for sitting at a desk or in the car or around home or even while using some kind of cardio machine and keeping it in the drink holder.

I suppose if I lived somewhere with more humidity and I had drinks that sweat a lot, I would use the Tritan inner and outer in combination more or when winter comes I would actually consider using the tea strainer/glass inner for hot drinks… but those haven’t been useful to me as of yet. And the idea of fruit-infused water sounds pleasant, but it also ends up being too much bother. I’ll just drink my water straight from the fridge dispenser. (Well, I’ll put it in a bottle or cup first, I’m not THAT uncivilized.)

And while the marketing-ese says it replaces 8 bottles cluttering the cabinets, you essentially end up with four bottles/bottle-ish-objects to store and some random littler pieces to stash… which is kind of harder to figure out where to put everything than if I had 8 different bottles.

So it still seems like a cool theory in concept, but I found that all the “features” aren’t really useful for me. It retails for $26.99 online.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Wahoo’s TICKR Run Heart Rate Monitor

wahoo-tickr-run-1.jpg

Wahoo Fitness has introduced TICKR Run and they sent me one to try! (Full disclosure, the device was given to me for free and the thoughts here are all my own.) TICKR Run is the first heart rate monitor with activity tracking that provides real-time analysis of a runner’s form, helping to improve efficiency and avoid injury rates. The device pairs with iOS and Android smartphones and other devices and retails for $79.99.

wahoo-tickr-run-1.jpg

Want the official lingo on how it works?

Using a triple axis motion sensor, TICKR Run contains an accelerometer that measures a runner’s form in three planes: vertically, side-to-side and front-to-back. Those sensors and Wahoo’s fitness app for iOS and Android (update to be released in the coming months) produce a measurement of each runner’s form called Running Smoothness. Developed exclusively by Wahoo, Running Smoothness is a sophisticated algorithm that assigns varying levels of importance to each axis and combines them into a single, easy-to-understand index. Using Running Smoothness, athletes can improve their form to avoid unnecessary body motion, which improves efficiency and reduces the risk of common running injuries. Using Wahoo’s app, runners can even track Running Smoothness through their workout history to see improvements over long periods of time.

The TICKR Run review in Jill-speak… It paired really easily with both my iPhone and my Garmin Forerunner 220 watch. Using it with the Forerunner alone you get a solid and consistent heart-rate reading, one of the most reliable I’ve ever used. Used with the app, you get the added benefit of Running Smoothness, which I don’t use all the time because I’m content with my Garmin, but when I’ve played with it I’ve been impressed. It usually has pretty comparable stats for stride rate as my Forerunner, but there’s also the added information about side-to-side motion and ground contact time. There is a treadmill mode as well, so you can use your connected device, TICKR Run and get all the same data.

wahoo-tickr-run-2.jpg

If you don’t want to use a new app for tracking, it pairs with over 50 of the most popular fitness apps out there (including Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, etc.)

An additional perk from Wahoo is they offer BURN & BURST heart rate training plans. The BURN plan is designed to optimize fat burn and the BURST works on your speed and performance. This is a nice benefit for those who want to use the power of tapping into their heart rate for training optimization but aren’t quite sure how to approach that.

wahoo-tickr-run-3.jpg

I’ve been impressed with the strap. It is comfortable and easy to put on, the closure is controlled by hooking on the sensor, so no reaching behind to blindly fiddle for a little hook closure. Once on and after it’s been paired, I’ve not once had a problem with it losing the connection or failing to recognize my heart rate.  Since it has the bonus of being able to pair with your phone and various apps, that frees you up to use it for a multitude of sports/fitness activities, which makes it a more universally appealing option.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

BE REAL Shoes (minimal shoe review)

bereal-shoes-1.jpg

These BE REAL shoes were sent to me for the purpose of review. Opinions are my own. And also… I owe them a huge apology because I have been really slow in getting this posted!

Be Real Shoes collection

Photo from berealshoes.com

Minimal shoes aren’t as “hot” right now, there seems to be a maximum cushioning trend going on. But I also think that we are in a new era of running shoes, where we’ll have more options available to us. Several years ago (maybe 2009?) I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. And I liked how they felt. I would run a speedy one-mile loop around my neighborhood in them and they were great for strengthening my calves. I wore them during my pregnancy to walk the dog. But I tried them on again about 5 months after my daughter was born and they didn’t feel good anymore. While my feet didn’t drastically change, they did change in subtle ways. Yet another weird way you can be forever altered by having a kid!

When I tried on the BE REAL shoes, I felt that same connection to the ground that I got from the toe shoes, but there were a couple of really great differences:

  1. My feet didn’t feel squished/pinched/constricted
  2. They’re easy to put on.

I don’t run far in shoes this minimal. Just some strides up/down my street and walking the dog, things of that nature. They’re good for developing strength in that regard, but I don’t want to or intend to use them for distance.

bereal-shoes-1.jpg

The shoes have an all-terrain sole and I have walked across rocks and it’s never bothered me. This gives them traction in a variety of conditions: trail, grass, wet, streets. Oh, and the sole is a patent-pending 100% recyclable sole. Interesting, huh? The company is committed to domestic and eco-friendly manufacturing.

But….

BUT…

BUT…

To be gentle, they’re not the most attractive shoes in the world. I know, we don’t pick our running shoes by how they look. (Well, not first and foremost. We should focus on fit/feel. But if looks come into play… that’s alright.) And when I wear them with running shorts I feel like they really stand out. It’s weird how I can feel self-conscious in these but not in neon orange/yellow shoes, huh? C’est la vie.

bereal-shoes-2.jpg

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Apera Sling Tote

apera-bag-1.jpg

I was sent an Apera bag for the purpose of review. All thoughts are my own.

Apera Bag - Sling Tote

To go to baby swim class with Alex, I usually just shoved swim stuff into the diaper bag. It worked alright, but it wasn’t ideal – especially once we had the wet stuff to bring home. So when I had a chance to try a new gear bag from Apera I was excited. The bag can easily be used for the gym, yoga/barre/pilates class, overnight trip or even in place of a diaper bag for day-to-day life!

The bag has a lot of pockets and I was able to easily fit my wallet, phone, diapers, wipes, swimsuits, towels, water bottle and baby clothes/shoes in the bag. (I’m going to admit, after swim class… we often leave with Alex in just a diaper and a shirt. She’s usually starving and ornery, wasting too much time getting completely dressed just prolongs her agony, thus prolonging mine!)

Apera Sling Tote - full of swim class gear

Apera bags are made with an antimicrobial protection inside and out, which makes it so the bag resists bacterial odor. Thus, they don’t stink! There are vented compartments, which allow the bag to breathe and you don’t trap in a funk if you put your sweaty running shoes in there. The linings are all wipeable for easy cleaning. You can keep wet and dry stuff in the bag separate and it won’t soak across barriers, including special padded sections for electronics.

apera-bag-3.jpg

The bag feels kind of large on its own, but I think that as it gets used some of the initial stiffness will loosen up and it won’t feel quite so big.  Plus it just looks nice!

Another cool thing about the company? For every 3 bags they sell, they donate one to a Special Olympics athlete. And they don’t just donate bags, they also promise to share their time, energy and resources with local Special Olympics events.

apera-bag-2.jpg

Apera Bags website
Apera Bags on Twitter
Apera Bags on Facebook

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

SportRx – Prescription or Not!

SportRx - the best prescription eyewear

SportRx - the best prescription eyewearSportRx… whether or not you need prescription lenses, they’re a pretty awesome company. It’s run by optician athletes. Or athlete opticians. However they prefer it… According to their About page they are:

SportRx is a Southern California based company created by opticians who ride their bikes, run their races, push their jogging strollers and bomb down slopes. We love glasses and enjoying life and want to help you see better while doing the things you love.

I was given the opportunity to receive a pair of shades from the company for use during running. And even though I don’t wear prescription lenses anymore (PRK baby! One of the best decisions of my life. Elective surgery FTW!) but when I did always wore my contacts while I ran. I disliked/hated/loathed/despised wearing my regular spectacles while running. Plus they didn’t provide any sun protection and it’s bright out here in the desert! But also during this time my contacts were increasingly causes my problems and my eyes were constantly irritated. And getting salty sweat in the eyes with contacts is a big annoyance cause you can’t even rub your eyes as vigorously to try relieving the pain. But I wore the contacts and cheapo sport sunglasses for each run.

So when I chatted with on the phone with them, in addition to the casual banter about our kids, I learned some tips about shades and a pair of Oakleys was recommended for me. I knew that you wanted to make sure your sunglasses provided UV protection, but it was good to be reminded that you want the glasses to be dark enough to shield you but not so dark you lose the nuances of the world around you.

So once we narrowed down the frame, it was time to choose the color. My first inclination was to do like I always do… go as neutral, not funky as possible. But then I had a change of heart, I’m realizing more and more that life is too short to not have fun, even with your shades. So I chose a white frame with purple lenses!

sportrx-oakley-sunglasses.jpg

And I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. They are so lightweight and feel great, but I’m also not really aware of them while I run. I guess I did have a moment of being aware about them when I first ran in them, simply because I kept noticing how much lighter they seemed on my face, how much more visible the world seemed and how they didn’t bounce around or slide off. They’re just great shades.

This recommendation all came by them chatting with me about where I live, what my primary sport is, when I’ll use the shades and in what conditions. They know their stuff, I was impressed!

If I still had to wear prescription lenses, knowing what I know now… I would probably not have suffered through the years of contact wearing and just bought a good pair of prescription shades. My mom bought a pair of prescription sport sunglasses from her eye doctor a few years ago and I think she was a little sticker-shocked at first, but now thinks they’re 100% worth it. Plus if you have money in flex accounts or something like that, it may be a good way to use that cash. Yes, SportRx works with that.

The website is easy to use, with ways to narrow down frames by sport/brand/gender/category. They have an analyzer tool that you can answer some questions and they will help you pick the right frame. And they have live chat on their site, if you need help. If you’re in San Diego, you can visit their showroom for help. I’m really impressed with the company and was glad to be introduced to them.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

BSX Athletics Awesome Kickstarter Campaign

BSX Athletics

BSX AthleticsHow long ago did I meet the crew at BSX Athletics? It’s been a while… probably a year now! [Read the interview with me on their site] They introduced a pretty cool app called runBSX. I really liked the test that could tell you your target training zones and then it would alert you to speed up/slow down so you were in those zones for greater gains in training efficiency. But they closed down the app to focus on the real meat of what they’ve been developing and now it is getting SO SO CLOSE. They were kind enough to share a little information about their plans and how it could revolutionize how people train.

How would you describe BSX Athletics is one sentence?

We’re a sports technology company that combines real-life coaching and wearable technologies to help athletes train smarter not harder.

You guys launched a Kickstarter campaign today. Why Kickstarter and why now?

[For those of you who are overzealous, come back to the interview in a few minutes and view BSX’s Kickstarter page]

One of the primary reasons we chose a Kickstarter campaign is because we wanted to better connect with the endurance sports community to truly understand how we can enhance their lives and help them shatter personal records.

We’ve connected with a lot of local (Texas) athletes along the way who’ve helped take part in our validation studies. Their support has been truly awe-inspiring. We continue receiving emails from thrilled athletes in our community who have set new PRs after adjusting their training based on the data from their LT test. We’re hoping to extend that goodwill to triathletes, cyclists and runners all over who want to join us on this journey.

BSX sensor

As for the timing, we’ve come a long way by ourselves. From the miniaturization of the bench top device in 2010 (left) through multiple rounds of validation studies to the device you see on the right.  We’re almost there, but we need a little help from the endurance sports community to finalize further miniaturization and prepare for volume manufacturing so that we can start getting BSX Insight in people’s hands in the Fall of 2014.

What exactly does BSX Insight do?

BSX Insight is an all-in-one sensor that pairs with your sports watch to measure heart rate, pace/speed, cadence, calories and for the first time ever, your lactate threshold – all from a single device.

Unlike most activity trackers (think Fitbit), Insight goes beyond just passively tracking your activity to actively transforming it. Insight “looks inside” your muscle during exercise to measure real bio signals and determine how hard you’re actually working, compared with how hard you should be working. Through paired communication with your sports watch it lets you know, in real-time, whether to speed up, slow down, or even rest.  BSX Insight is best used both during training as well as on race day to help you finish your perfect race.

Who is BSX Insight for?

The device’s ability to measure lactate threshold non-invasively is its true differentiator and so in that respect endurance athletes who understand the importance their lactate threshold and the implications that has on their training will likely see the most initial benefit.

That said, because the device measures so many other performance metrics, we genuinely envision it to be a training tool that a relatively novice athlete can grow into as they transition from training to complete to training to compete.

How can Someone Show Support?

  1. Check out our Kickstarter page and consider contributing to our project.We have several pledge levels, each with big savings on great gear (Including up to $60 off retail price for the runner’s edition of Insight).  Every contribution brings us one step closer to our goal!
  1. Take just a minute to help us spread the word.
    – Tweet: The @BSXAthletics Kickstarter campaign is LIVE (heartrate/lactate/pace/cadence measured) http://ctt.ec/S59vd+
    – Share on Facebook

I recently read an article about how taking on a GPS watch is like taking on a lover. (It’s a fun read… check it out. “If you are lucky enough to have a healthy relationship … err, GPS … then you already understand that these things are not surgically attached to you. Every once in a while, let out your hair and go alone.”) Well, I am about to add another member to my harem because I’m backing this project!

I really hope they succeed with this, not only does it sound fantastic but they’re just GOOD PEOPLE over there. Really, truly… I’ve been so impressed with all my interactions with them. If I am ever in Houston, TX… I’m showing up at their offices to give them a big high five!

Thirty 48 Socks

thirty-48-socks3.jpg

There are 30.48 centimeters in a foot, and for every foot there’s Thirty 48.

That’s the tagline for socks I was recently sent… and if you can’t figure it out, they’re from a company called Thirty 48.

thirty-48-socks3.jpg

I like that the socks are foot specific, meaning you have to put them on the right foot (or left foot) in order to have them fit properly. Obviously, since they’re a sport sock, they are made of a wicking synthetic blend of fabrics to keep your foot from feeling like you’re traipsing through a swamp.

thirty-48-socks1.jpg

The specifics from the company:

  • Right & Left foot specific for a better fit and blister prevention
  • CatalystAF ™: Design which allows increased airflow
  • COOLMAX ® fabric to move moisture away from the feet, keeping them dry

We are the socks geeks because we are obsessed with sock technology so our customers can focus on their active lifestyles.

The socks seemed a little loose to me, and loose socks are a recipe for blisters. Due to this I washed them on hot to try shrinking them a little to see if they would fit better. They did fit a little better after the hot wash and after running in them they don’t seem like they’ll be a source of friction. The tops of them come just up over my ankle bones, I usually wear socks that go just below my ankle bones. For some reason, that makes me feel a little like I’m wearing socks that are too tall! I’m sure nobody looking at me is going to think, “Her socks look 1 inch taller than normal!” but they sure feel conspicuous to me when I put them on. But while running, I obviously forgot about them. And I guess that is the mark of a good sock… if you’re not constantly aware of it during the run, right?

thirty-48-socks.jpg

The socks are available for purchase on their website for $15.99, as well as cycling socks and compression calf sleeves. For the most part, they felt like any other specialty running sock I’ve tried on, I didn’t feel anything that was amazingly WOW! about them, they were just a well-made running sock. (I almost said they didn’t knock my socks off, but that would have been a terrible pun, even if it was unintended!)

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Cool off with the AMBI™

ambi1.jpg

One of the worst things about intense physical activity for me, especially when it is warmer out, is the way I get flushed and my face just stays red. Hours after I run my face can still be much rosier than I’d like. But if I take measures to cool down by putting something cool on my forehead, the red glow usually calms down much quicker.

Also, I’m pretty sure that most runners are familiar with the power of icing injuries or sore spots!

I was sent a device, the AMBI™, which provides instant cooling relief at the flick of a switch. Basically, it’s an electronic ice-cube!  And if you want to sound really cool (or nerdy) you can say that you’re cooling your injury using the same technology that NASA used to chill the shell of the space shuttle! There’s no risk of frostbite or melty puddles.

ambi1.jpg

It comes with a plug-in wall adapter but also runs off 4 AA batteries for portability.

In addition to the muscle strain/sprain relief, you can use the cooling to calm bug bites, soothe bumps to the head (Hi, I have a toddler!), cool down a hot flash, or help with migraines. Positioning it on the injury site is one way to use it, but placing it on body thermoreceptor points (back of neck, forehead, wrist) is another way to bring your body temperature back in check.

ambi2.jpg

It’s a cool little device, but it’s almost startling how cold it can feel against the forehead. Honestly, it’s helped bring my temperature back in check after a hard run, but I can only hold it against me for a minute or so before I start to feel like I have an ice cream headache or something! Holding it against the wrists is more manageable though. Either way, it is impressive at how quickly it can bring the body temperature back down.

It comes with a protective sleeve, but the plug/cable don’t fit in that at all… that’s kind of weird, it seems like you should be able to keep all components together.  I think the vision when it was created was for you to be able to carry it around in your bag with you, thus it would be running off batteries and you don’t need the cord.

ambi3.jpg

It retails for $49.99 and can be purchased online. find AMBI™ on Twitter @My_Ambi.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

MooMotion

MooMotion tank

I got an email a bit ago asking if I wanted to try anything from MooMotion, a new company that makes tri-gear. I replied that I wanted to be clear that I’m not a triathlete (fear of the swim, yo!) but they said they want anyone to be able to workout in their apparel and they would be willing to send me a tank for review.

I’ve heard some people say that triathletes get the good gear… and well, that’s true in this case! Tri stuff has pockets, pockets, pockets! Including a boob pocket (as I put it… although, it’s officially called a “hidden cleavage pocket”.

MooMotion tank

It has a built-in shelf bra, but since the top felt a little loose to me, I wasn’t ready to count on that fully for support. Even when you aren’t well endowed, you want to make sure you’ve got the right support! But everything else about this top fit great and I felt comfortable in it, as well as feeling cute!

Even though it was a chilly day, I put it through a test run… for the sake of science. Or this blog, which is hardly science! I just wore tights and arm warmers that day! It was great, and having pockets on the back was handy. I didn’t actually use the boob pocket, but in a race it would be great for stashing a gel.

moomotion-tank-3.jpg

Here are the “official” specs on the top:

  • Lycra® SPORT Fabric: Moisture wicking and quick dry comfort through water and land
  • Constructed mesh bra with brushed elastic allows for maximum support and breathability.
  • Features a scoop back with feminine criss-cross straps
  • Flat seam construction for next-to-skin comfort
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Multiple back pockets with a hidden cleavage pocket
  • Extends past the hip with a longer back hem for extra coverage
  • Performs through chlorine and salt water
  • Reflective piping for low light visibility
  • Made in USA from Italian technical fabric

moomotion-tank-2.jpg

It kind of makes me wish I were a triathlete, so I could have the full kit! However, I still don’t want to swim. And I don’t have a bike. So I’ll stick with running in my cute MooMotion top!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.