Serial Racing

If you’ve been in the running/racing community long enough, you’ve heard about the special breed of runners that does a ton of races throughout the year. The people who race every weekend or even multiple times in the same weekend. And I’m going to be honest… whenever I have heard of these people I always think what a great adventure that must be and then I wonder “How do they manage that?” And when I think manage, I am literally thinking about the logistics… from finances and organization and traveling.  I suppose I should think about how they physically manage the accomplishment, but since I’m a tightwad I always think of the monetary side first.

Thus the book Serial Racing: Planning For And Affording A Lifetime Of Endurance Events intrigued me. (Disclosure: sent to me for free to review.) I have no aspirations to do this kind of endeavor at this point in my life, but this book helped me realize and appreciate all the effort that it takes to do something of this nature.

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The author, Andrea Herrmann, is speaking from experience here. She completed the 10 Moon/Sun level in the Half Fanatics club… doing 52 half marathons in 365 days… TWICE and wrote this book after doing so to share the knowledge she’s acquired on the subject.

She dives into information on how to make sure you are saving money on your race registrations (early registrations are key… which means planning your calendar out in advance is key!), tricks to get free flights, saving money on accommodations, how to find a variety of races and generally how to keep your self organized when you are doing this many events.

So what if you have zero interest in doing as many events as the author? Well… if you’re doing one race a month or so (something I know a lot of people can easily do locally) there are tips in here for you too. There is one that I don’t want to giveaway (you’ll have to check out the book) that has to do on saving money on an Active Advantage membership that I want to look into further.

The other really cool thing is the author volunteers with Medals4Mettle, a nonprofit that collects earned donated finishers medals and presents them to individuals battling cancer and other illness. A portion of the book proceeds are used to fund medal presentations.

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The book is available in paperback and kindle format on Amazon. Definitely check it out if you want to find ways to keep your racing habit in check or figure out how to take it up to a new level!

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

Clif Organic Energy Food

So… a little while back I was sent some pouches of the latest and greatest(?) from Clif – their Organic Energy Food pouches.

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The ingredient list impressed me… nice simple food ingredients. The flavors intrigued me… the fruit ones sounded decent enough and well… Pizza Margherita is definitely unique and deserves some kind of attention, right?

Let’s get to the fruit ones first, okay? I thought those were great. They tasted wonderful, they went down easily and they stayed down. The problem is the size of the pouch. It’s actually convenient so you can carry it and sip on it a little bit while running without worrying about it getting all over as much as a gel pouch might. But… it’s just big. And the cap is big. And the whole thing makes for a bulky bit of cargo. And it would be really annoying to try to haul multiple packs in a waist belt. (And seeing as how I’m running Boston soon and no back packs are allowed on course, I had to stick with a waist pack.)

This was consumed on my run today, I REALLY liked it! @clifbarcompany #organicenergyfood

A photo posted by Jill (@jillwillrun) on

So onto the other flavors… I admit, I was both excited and terrified to try these. The positive: they contain nice ingredients.

Now for the negatives… The pouch is even bigger than the fruit flavors. They contain a lot of fat which could be harder to digest, provided you get them down. Which I didn’t. On two separate long runs I took one of the savory flavors with me. On each occasion I tried them around the 15-mile mark. Each time I got one sip (bite) and promptly spat it into the rocks.

Soooooooo baaaaaaaaaad…….

I’m sorry Clif. I love you, I think you’re swell and I like many of your products. My daughter thinks your Clif Kids Zfruit+Veggie are candy. But these Clif Organic Energy Food pouches… I can’t even! (That’s what they say these days right? “I can’t even!”)

Apparently NPR can’t even either.

 

JVC Sport Headphones

If you’ve read my site or social media for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up that I take issue with runners blocking out the world as they run. And if you haven’t picked up on that… I HATE when people have headphones on and cannot hear the world around them. I have run past people and had them get startled as I passed them because they never heard me coming. I have had runners I coached not even hear me come up behind them, run next to them and start talking to them because they were looking straight down and had on headphones to drown out the world. That’s dangerous… don’t do that!

So when I was given the opportunity to check out a new pair of sport headphones from JVC that have features that help runners listen to their tunes but still be aware of the world, I had to jump on that.

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JVC HA-ETR40 features:

  • A soft, rotating rubber hook that holds them securely in place and
    can be adjusted to get the perfect fit;
  • Waterproof and washable;
  • Two sets of earpieces — conventional that seal out ambient noise (in three sizes) and “open type” (also in three sizes) that allow ambient sounds to be heard so runners can hear the sound of approaching vehicles, etc.;
  • Two-piece cord — Use the short cord if you wear your phone/music player on your arm, and so avoid the hassle of excess cord; use the extension if you carry your phone in your hand or pocket;
  • One-button microphone and remote control

Waterproof and washable are super cool. A remote/microphone is a fantastic feature. Two piece cord so you can have a shorter line when wearing your device on your arm is swell. But I want to focus on the different earpieces…

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I was curious how well the different earpieces would actually work. So I took all the little parts and pieces into my backyard. There is a fairly big road construction project happening just over the wall from my house (will be sooooooo nice when that is done!) and my backyard is fairly noisy right now. It scares my dog.

I put the conventional buds in place, popped them in my ear and turned on music. Sure enough, I didn’t hear much construction noise. So… they’re great at blocking out ambient noise. Then I switched to the open buds, they have little divots around them. And I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I could hear the offending construction noise.

Hanging out in the backyard = don’t want to hear that construction ambiance

Going on a run = necessary to hear the worldly traffic ambiance

Honestly, I was pretty impressed and I’m glad to have these JVC sport headphones as another headphone option in my arsenal of recommendations. Great sound and safety options!

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You can snag a pair for about $35. They come in two color options: red/black and gray/black.

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

No Cow Bars

I was really excited when I was offered the chance to try these new No Cow bars by D’s Naturals.

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Reasons to be impressed:

  • Things that are not included: Dairy, GMOs, Gluten, Sugars, Artificial Sweeteners, Soy
  • Fun Flavors: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: Mint Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Cobbler, Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • High protein: 20 or 21g of protein per bar
  • A story: The founder/CEO is an 18-year-old … that is pretty remarkable!

I was very intrigued when I read most of those stats… and when I got the bars I was pleased when the first bite had really good flavor for most flavors. The blueberry was kind of “meh” for me.

So… are you getting the impression that there is a BUT here? Cause there is one small caveat. But it’s also kind of a big caveat too.

The texture.

Even with a good flavor, I found the texture undesirable. It just felt dry and laborious to muster a will to want to keep chewing.

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I prefer my food-in-bar-form to remind me of actual food. I like seeing visual cues of familiar items like nuts and fruits and oats. So overall, these were not a success for me.

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

Rock My Run Giveaway

Putting a little music to your run can go a long way to improving your performance. If I know I’m feeling a little down, the right music on my run (or during work! or during a drive! or just while hanging out!) can turn my mood around. And sometimes, if I’m going out for a run and know I need to run slower (such as for a recovery effort) I’ll make sure I listen to either slow music or I will listen to a news podcast to hold me back. There are even experts who devote their lives to researching the power of music!

See: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music

Putting your device on shuffle can work, but then you may be running and end up with something really random that is on your phone only because you have a 2-year-old. (Or maybe that’s just me?) And making a custom playlist can be awesome… but it can also be time-consuming. Or that song you just love when making your list is a real downer when you start to run. (I had that moment years back when listening to Maroon 5’s Harder To Breathe. I didn’t need to be reminded that “it’s getting harder and harder to breathe!”)

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Rock My Run has worked out all the kinks so that you can have a “playlist” all built to perfectly mesh together and last your entire run. They build them based upon certain genres and tempos and lengths so there is probably a perfect mix for just about everyone out there. The coolest thing about Rock My Run? It’s a FREE service. FREE! As in…. zero dollars.

That’s pretty sweet, but there is also a premium version, or the Rockstar version, as it’s called. So what do you get if you upgrade? For as low as $2.99 a month you can have access to mixes that are up to 4 hours long, add-free content, continuous play in the app for workouts that are longer than just one mix, etc.

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I played with the app when they first released it, but I hadn’t kept it on my phone since I’m constantly rotating running-related apps in and out of my phone. One of the coolest enhancements they’ve made is the myBeats feature. You can manually change the tempo of a mix to match your running pace. But if you have an iOS device (coming soon to Android) you can use the accelerometer in the device to adjust the mix BPM or you can connect a heart rate monitor to adapt the beat.

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They offer a 7-day free trial of Rockstar status for anyone through the app, but 7 days isn’t that much time… right? So I’ve got a code to get one free month of Rockstar access on Rock My Run: RMR3I

What about a year? Want a year of premium access to Rock My Run? Yes, you do…. I’ve got a year to give away. And it comes with a sweet pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds. Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget, the giveaway will run March 3-10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweet Calcium

Taking a supplement in pill form seems so passé these days. You can get so many in a gummy format these days, even fiber… which seems very odd to me. But you know what is an even better way to get it? In chocolate form.

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I was sent a couple of bags of Adora calcium supplements to try and I decided it’s kind of fun to get calcium in a chocolate flavor… and not in those chewy, faux-chocolate chunks like other varieties. These even come in a milk or dark chocolate variety depending upon your tastes.

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I think I actually preferred the dark flavor over the milk chocolate, although both were good. These aren’t going to be knock-your-socks-off, “Did you visit a chocolatier for these?” morsels, but they’re tasty and make a nice post-meal treat. If you’re a real chocolate connaisseur, you’ll still want your splurge favorites. (BTW – got a favorite kind of fancy chocolate?)

Plus, it’s nice to know you’re getting some additional nutrients in with them. An average adult would need 2-3 disks a day to get the RDA and they also contain Vitamin D3 to help the body absorb the calcium. Each disk is 30 calories with 2g fat and 2-3g carbs, depending on the variety. They’re non-GMO, gluten-free, and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa.

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You can pick these up via Amazon, the Adora store, or look for a retailer near you.

The one issue I have with the candification* of supplements/meds is that it makes them seem like treats and something to snack on more than some kind of specific fuel for your body when you may be lacking in a nutrient due to dietary difficulties/deficiencies. And it makes kids want to snack on them more… back in the day the kids vitamins were made to be flavored, but there was still a medicinal aspect to them.

* I totally made up the word candification, but I kind of like it!

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

Red Fox Edge Wireless Headset

Do you use bluetooth headphones? I have tried a couple of pairs but most haven’t “stuck” with me. They are decent enough, but they just don’t work for my lifestyle most of the time.

I was recently sent the Red Fox Edge Wireless Headset to test. They were named the “Best Cordless Headphones” by Runner’s World magazine last year and I was pretty impressed with them.

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The wireless headphones are pretty lightweight and they don’t bounce around. Full disclosure, the first time I paired them I ran around my house and bounced up and down trying to see if they would flop around. I run very scientific tests around these parts! They have an “IPX nano coating” which matters because that gives them protection from sweat and moisture.

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They have a 32 foot range, so you can move about a lot with them on. I listened to a conference call with them on and it was nice to be able to pace around my office and not have to worry about carrying my phone every step of the way too, I could just leave it on my desk and “enjoy” my call.

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I did find that if I had my ponytail in the slightly wrong place then it kind of annoyed me against the back of the headset, that caused it to bounce around! And I would recommend it for indoor exercise over outdoors, just because I’m such a stickler about blocking your ears while running outside.

Also, I haven’t gotten really smooth with the buttons on the side. I sometimes skip tracks when I’m trying to turn the volume up or I activate Siri on accident (but at least I know Siri is very responsive via the Edge Headphones!) but I think with more regular use I’d get better! Practice makes perfect or something. But it’s just not intuitive to me, I have to really think if I was supposed to be tapping on the left or right side of my head to accomplish a task.

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Features include:

  • Built in microphone with single button call answering feature
  • SIRI and Google Voice integration
  • Easy-to-use controls on headset for play/pause and track forward/backward
  • The lithium ion battery provides 9 hours of continuous use and requires only 1 hour to recharge.
  • IPX4 Nano Coating provides sweat and moisture protection
  • Includes a custom case for protective storage

Time will tell if these actually become part of my regular routine. I still need to try talking on them in the car. My car has built-in bluetooth phone controls, but I’ve found the road noise makes conversations difficult so perhaps these would be better. But then, I don’t talk on the phone in the car that often anyway.

Buy on Amazon for $119.99

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

KT Tape: My Experiences

I have friends who show up to every race looking like an intricately designed tapestry of KT Tape across various parts of their body. I’ve always wondered if it makes that much of a difference to apply it for every run/race and if they do all that themselves. Have you seen some of these patterns? And do they get funky tan lines from it?

(KT Tape is a brand name of a kinesiology tape used to help support and provide pain relief for muscle, ligament, tendon pain. They have two varieties at this time: KT Tape made out of a cotton fiber that is meant to stick for up to 3 days and the KT Tape Pro which is a synthetic fiber, lasts up to 7 days and is waterproof.)

I’ve tried the regular KT Tape in the past on spots that felt a little twinge-y (technical term there) and I’ve not had any luck with the stuff. No matter how much I try to make sure my skin is perfectly clean and my hands don’t touch the tape, the stuff just peels off within a short time, sometimes nearly immediately. Maybe my skin actively repels the stuff? ;-)

But a little while back I was sent some KT Tape Pro to try. When I had my knee pain that prevented me from running a couple of weekends ago, not only did I rest and apply cold compression, but I taped it with the KT Tape Pro.

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Nobody is giving me any awards for “beautiful taping” any time soon, but this stuff actually stuck! And when I took a shower with it the only parts that came unstuck were the areas where KT Tape was stuck to KT Tape. The direct contact with my skin stayed firmly adhered.

Right now I don’t feel the need to tape up anything every single time I run and I have no desire to do so. I would like to do what I can to strengthen my joints and supporting muscles so they don’t need extra supports. But when there is a little twinge-y, KT Tape Pro could actually help.

And for those of you who use it regularly and actually get KT Tape stick to your skin… fess up… do you use an adhesive?

Arctic Ease

Arctic Ease - Red A couple of months ago I was sent some Arctic Ease to try out. And I looked at it, but wasn’t quite sure how best to evaluate it when I didn’t feel that I needed the product at that moment. So I kind of sat on it and pondered it… until this weekend when I had my sudden spat of knee pain and I realized that “TA DA!!! Now I can test things that were meant for situations like that for my site!”

Arctic Ease wraps are reusable wraps that require no refrigeration and stay in place on their own. Suitable for minor aches, sprains, repetitive motion injuries, arthritis, bruises and muscle cramps, they are safe for any body part.

Benefits:

  • Provides instant cooling relief for up to 3 hours
  • Uses dual action cold and compression therapy to treat aches and pains sustained by active adults and athletes
  • Enables active recovery; unlike ice, the Arctic Ease Wrap conforms to the body and does not inhibit movement
  • In a recent clinical study Arctic Ease® was shown to be as effective as ice therapy in reducing pain, swelling and improving mobility, and because it was more comfortable and convenient, patients kept it on longer.

How It Works:

  • Arctic Ease® wraps are a two-in-one solution, offering cryotherapy and compression. The fabric’s elasticity creates therapeutic compression. Simultaneously, the gel coating absorbs and evaporates heat energy from the body, providing hours of targeted cold therapy.

I did check out the smaller wrap just before Christmas to see what it feels like, it’s got this weird gel like substances on it which I worried would be messy all over the place, but it’s really not. It can flake off a tiny bit, but nothing that really concerned me.

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But with legitimate pain, I was able to wrap it around my knee this weekend and put it to a real test. I know there is some research saying that cold therapy isn’t as effective as once touted, but I still think it has its place. Arctic Ease combines the cold therapy with compression in one easy treatment… and it also has the added benefit of allowing me to still be somewhat mobile. I’ve tried sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my knee and you know what happens these days? My daughter comes over, picks it up off my leg, tosses it aside and asks me to come help her with something.  At least this way I can still play the role of “Mom” and get some soothing comfort for a trouble spot.

I found it kind of immobilized the joint some, making it hard to walk up and down the steps. Thus it would be impossible to run in it… although I don’t know why you would want to run with an “ice pack” on your knee anyway. It’s a recovery mechanism and it’s fine to slow down some for recovery!

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The fabric is a blend of cotton and lycra, Arctic Ease wraps are odor free, and contain NO latex, fragrance, sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil or menthol. You can reuse a wrap up to 5 times, just add a tiny bit of water to the container and shake it around to reactivate the cooling gel. They come in two sizes: 4” x 60” Full Size that sells for $14.99 and the 2.75” x 36” Small Size, at $9.99. That is kind of expensive for icing when you can buy a reusable ice pack for the same or less (or a bag of frozen peas for even cheaper) but those also limit your mobility a lot more. I don’t think that these would be the forever alternative to more traditional ice packs, but they sure add a lot of convenience. Not requiring a refrigerator or freezer is a big benefit, especially if you’re traveling to an event and know you might need something like this. Post marathon – perhaps wrap the legs up for recovery? I might do this!

Available in Red, Blue, Black and Pink and can be purchased at CVS, Vitamin Shoppe and online at ArcticEaseWrap.com, Arctic Ease seems like a pretty decent tool to have in your recovery arsenal!

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

Egg White Chips – Protein snack food

Remember I said I was going to try to eat more protein this year? (If you don’t, it doesn’t matter… here’s an update: I’d like to try eating more protein this year.) Anywho… I was excited about the possibility of trying a chip made out of egg whites. Sounds kind of weird, huh? But that’s exactly what ips All Natural chips are made from! (ips = rhymes with chips = intelligent protein snacks)

ips All Natural Chips

These egg white chips come in four flavors and each bag has 130 calories and 6 grams of protein. They don’t have much fiber, all of them have less than one gram. They are non-gmo, preservative/artificial color-free and gluten-free.

I liked the story about how they came to be: The founder, Sean Olson, makes breakfast for his kids and they always liked the crispy edges of fried eggs.  So he thought he would try to make a healthy snack that incorporated that good source of protein.

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All of those aspects made me want to love them… but I didn’t love every flavor. I found the Sea Salt and Black Pepper flavor to be too peppery for my taste buds. And the cheese flavor was just so-so. My daughter ate a couple of those and then stopped and told me to “Put them away.” The BBQ is decent and the Cinnamon Sugar flavor was my favorite. And even though they have “sugar” in the flavor name, there are only 3g of sugar so it’s not like they’re super sugary.

You can look for them in a store near you (they’re at a lot of Vitamin Shoppe stores in Vegas) or you can order online.

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