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Electro-Bites from Fuel100 – Innovative Fueling Option for Endurance Athletes

Electro Bites
Fueling myself for running is the bane of my existence. Or… at least one of the bigger challenges of my endurance running career hobby.  I had recently seen Electro-Bites by Fuel100 and was eager to try them. When the opportunity arose to get some and post a review, I was completely on board. (FTC Disclosure: that means I was sent one free package of each flavor to test/review.)

The bites are a 100 calories per bag and they contain pretty simple, yet unique and different, ingredients. I say unique and different because they’re not straight sugar. So…. What’s in Electro-Bites?

Ingredients

  •  Organic Coconut Oil
  •  Organic Agave Syrup
  •  Potato Starch
  •  Sodium (190mg) , Magnesium (46mg), Potassium (55mg)

 

electro-bites-nutrition-facts

Why those ingredients in a product that is designed as nutrition for athletes? Why not a variety of sugars? The creators were pretty focused with their research and development. Some details in particular I found interesting:

  • Coconut Oil: reduces inflammation, digestive aid, improves utilization of blood glucose (and more)
  • Agave: faster acting sugar, rapidly absorbed, healthy bacteria that are good for digestion (and more)
  • Potato Starch: It’s a good carbohydrate source

Flavor

Electro-Bites come in 5 flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Salty Vanilla, Simply Salty and Salty Vinegar.

Wait, what? Vinegar?!

Yeah, I was a little apprehensive about that one. But you know what? It’s good… the vinegar flavor is hardly there at all… it’s not like you’re eating a pickle juice bite. But I think my favorite flavor of all was Salty Vanilla.

electro-bites-salty-vinegar-bite

 

Effective

I used Electro-Bites to train for the half marathon I ran in May. In terms of fueling, they were great! I never felt like I had some kind of sugar overload and they tasted good. They dissolve pretty quickly in your mouth so they are easy to chew up and they didn’t bother my sensitive gut. I didn’t like the actual package they came in, because I didn’t eat the entire pack at once (that would have been too much to chew) and preferred to pull a few out and eat them, then grab a few more about 10 minutes later. So instead, I dumped them in a small snack-size zip-top bag. I carried them in the shoulder pocket on my Orange Mud pack, so they weren’t too squished but jamming them into a tightly packed waist band could potentially leave you with dust if you’re not careful.

electro-bites-in-bag

 

Electro-Bites Final Notes

Electro-Bites were created by two women, both mothers and both super speedy… you can read their bios, see their times and learn more about how the product came about. Hint: It involved one of them losing a crown during a race due to a chewy fuel. They are based out of Mukilteo, WA… they should bring samples to runners at Ragnar Northwest Passage! (I say this because I’m going to be at that event! LOL!)

They retail for $13.20 for a 6 pack via the website. So that’s about $2.20 a pack, pretty much in line with some of the more premium fuel options I’ve seen.

I would buy these for future races, it was a different form of fuel but it works for me. I like that it’s a potato-based product, something I’ve considered due to popularity at ultra aid stations, but in a more convenient form!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Fuel100 Electro Bites for free from Fuel100 as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for gear review publication.

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

RestOn Smart Sleep Monitor from Sleepace (Review)

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I haven’t been wearing an activity tracker regularly at all in 2016. I love playing with wearable tech, but I’ve been disenchanted with many of them of late and while I have played with other devices, none have stuck. And you know what? I don’t really care if I’m missing out on my step counts. That was never my most favorite metric anyway. Want to know what I liked to see? Sleep data.

Boring? Perhaps… but I liked to see the ups and downs and the vindication that says “SEE! See how many times I had to get up last night? No wonder I’m tired!” or the flipside of “What do you mean I got 8 solid hours of sleep with most of it being deep sleep? I feel like I didn’t sleep at all! Did you hear my husband snoring all night, sleep tracker? I think not!”

So I was excited when I was given the opportunity to test the RestOn Smart Sleep Monitor from Sleepace. (Disclaimer: Yes, that means I was given one for free to use, abuse and review.) “I can get sleep tracking without wearing a bracelet? Cool! Sign me up!”

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It’s super easy to setup. The box contains the unit, a charging cable and a tiny manual. You basically lay the strap for the unit across your mattress (under your sheet) and then put the cover on it on the side of your bed (on top of your sheet) to keep it in place.

reston-instructions

After that, you sleep on it. The end.

Oh wait… there’s a little more.

You need to install an app that communicates with the device to crunch the info and display that data back to you. You get an overall sleep score as your main reading as well as a quick overview of your heart rate, breath rate and how long it took you to fall asleep:

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Scrolling down it gives you a little more information on how your night played out. Deep sleep, light sleep, heart rate, breathing and even shows you how many times you turned over at night. I never remember to log into the app and stop the sleep recording, so it usually does some weird stuff in the graph for a while after my wake up time, even if it records an accurate wake time.

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Tapping on your sleep score breaks things down a little more and tells you why you got points docked where you did.

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Don’t know what they mean by one of those? That’s covered, tapping on it will give you an explanation.

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The bradycardia one irks me… If you scroll down on that explanation (that I don’t have in the screen grab) it says “physiological bradycardia which is very common among those who regularly exercise…” Oh… so my low heart rate at night is normal for me and I shouldn’t be worried. So maybe I shouldn’t be docked? Maybe, maybe, maybe? 🙂

And for the most part, the data seems to be pretty accurate. Except every now and then it has a freakout and returns wildly inaccurate information. Take, for example, the night before my recent half marathon:

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I woke up at 3:40am for the race. It does seem to reflect that I got up, but then it shows I’m kind of up/down/up/down until a little after 4:30 and then I drop into a coma until after 7am. Which is interesting because I was on a shuttle bus to the race start line and then I was running a race during that time. Maybe it was picking up movements from my husband’s side of the bed? The RestOn strap doesn’t extend to his side of the bed, so I have no idea what was going on there.

Speaking of husbands… I’m kind of intrigued to put this on his side of the bed and see what’s going on with him. His snoring is super annoying sometimes and he’s always had an extremely high heart rate, even at rest. I’m just curious. But then, he would be an intriguing test case for me to slap a HR wrist-based tracker to see that data. Not that he would care to know all that information.

The battery lasts for about a month. Then you just plug in a micro-USB cable, charge it up and you’re set for another month. My sheets don’t fit very well (I think a king-size Sleep Number bed is not quite exactly the same as other king size beds? Or the sheets I bought were mislabeled.) so I usually have to straighten it out each night before I lay down, tug the sheet down some. But then, I have to do that every night anyway.

If you’d like to get your hands on this, I have one to giveaway! Sleepace has generously offered up one RestOn ($149 value) to one of you. Earn entries via the Rafflecopter widget in this post:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to residents of the US and Canada and closes on May 25, 2016.

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

Octane Fitness Zero Runner

Zero Runner
I first started to hear about the Zero Runner from Octane Fitness about one year and 2 or 3 months ago. I was immediately captivated by the concept and idea of the machine and I started to mention it online a lot. When I ran the Boston Marathon I was hoping to find Octane at the expo so I could get the chance to try it, I knew they had debuted it at the expo the prior year. But I didn’t spend much time at the expo and didn’t find them.

But then in the summer, I got a bonus at work for being named the employee of the year and I used that to cover part of the cost to buy a Zero Runner ZR7. Let me repeat that…. I put my bonus toward purchasing a Zero Runner myself.* The Zero Runner was so handy to have during the summer months when I couldn’t get outside to run due to the heat. I put in lots of miles on it during those months.

A on the Zero Runner
My kiddo thinks the Zero Runner is fun too, and it’s a great upper body workout holding her on it!

Then I started the Runner’s World challenge to do a streak of at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Every additional day when I wouldn’t have normally run to complete this streak, I ran on the Zero Runner. And then I just kept going with my streak and I did 118 days (stopping due to some glute pain, general fatigue).

Here are my favorite things about my ZR7:

  • Quiet, I can use it when my kid is asleep without worrying about waking anyone up. There isn’t a motor in this thing.
  • No impact
  • Very close to running outside motion
  • You actually use your own muscles to move it (see no motor) so it’s a good workout.
  • Solid, well-built machine.

That said, there were some oddities:

  • The foot pedals seem a tiny bit too far apart.
  • The handles make for an arm motion that is NOT like where you hold your hands when running outside.
  • App quirks… which I will get into in a minute.
ZeroRunner ZR8
The ZeroRunner ZR8 (at Pacific Fitness Equipment in Las Vegas)

So when Octane asked me if I wanted to go try out a new ZR8 at a local fitness equipment store, I was excited to take the opportunity. I took my lunch hour and drove over to Pacific Fitness Equipment here in Las Vegas. (They are, incidentally, the place where I bought my ZR7!) They were all ready for me to hop on and give it a test. Here are the ZR8 improvements that resonated with me the most:

  • Foot pedals are closer together!
  • Lower grip handles that make for a 3rd option for your hand placement. These new handles are lower and allow for a motion that more closely mimics what you do with your arms when running. The thing I noticed the most about these are that you engage your core a lot more when using them, which is a good thing.
  • The leg joints are a different color. (Okay, that doesn’t matter… just something to notice!)
  • The legs are engineered differently and are a lighter weight aluminum than the original, which makes the movement even easier.
  • The price! The Zero Runner is not a cheap machine and the ZR8 is about $1000 MORE than the ZR7.

Still… It would be awesome to upgrade, but I can’t justify the cost of another $1000 when the ZR7 is pretty amazing.

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The latest addition to the Zero Runner family that was announced is the ZR8000, the commercial model made for gyms. So if you have a gym membership, give your gym manager a link to this machine and encourage them to buy some for the gym! Then you can try one for the cost of your monthly gym membership that you already pay!

On to the apps… there are two apps for the Zero Runner. The iOS app talks to your Zero Runner via Bluetooth and allows you to setup a training program for how often you want to run it, start a workout that is based on time/distance, or do a circuit-training program where it walks you through cardio time on the machine with strength intervals using the included Cross Circuit resistance bands hooked onto the 7 different attachment points on the machine. The iOS app can keep track of your whole history so you’ll know exactly how many miles you’ve put in on your machine over the lifetime of ownership. There are some quirks in the user experience of the app where things could be designed a little better, but overall it’s effective.

The other app is part of the Garmin Connect IQ store and it’s supposed to let you start a run inside on your Zero Runner and then pause your Garmin and continue it outside. (Or vice versa). I was super excited to try this functionality. HOWEVER… when I tested a Garmin Vivoactive for a couple of weeks I never got the app to work right. And when I upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 235 earlier this year, it doesn’t work because that’s not listed as a supported device because they haven’t updated the app. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope they update it, make it available to all Connect IQ devices and just make it work in general because that is my biggest disappointment in this. I kind of purchased a new Garmin with the assumption that all Connect IQ devices would be supported. Not the case.

Still, I love my Zero Runner and aside from setting up the time for me to visit Pacific Fitness Equipment to test the ZR8, Octane has never paid me anything to write this. This is a 100% honest review based on my own experiences. Although, if they wanted to send me a t-shirt or something, I’d accept that! 😉

Visit Pacific Fitness Equipment

10830 W Charleston Blvd
Ste 130
Las Vegas, NV 89135

*I got a pretty grumpy message after one social media post about a Zero Runner workout where the person said something about how it’s so unfair that “bloggers get all the free stuff” and how we “flaunt it in everyone’s face.” Yes, some bloggers get some pretty huge perks but they usually have to do work to promote the brand online to earn that. And in the case of this, I was just posting about a product I like.

Epsoak Epsom Salts – San Francisco Salt Company

Do you soak in Epsom salts? I was recently sent some Epsoak, Epsom salts from the San Francisco Salt Company, so I gave it a shot.
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Epsom salts are not salt, it’s magnesium sulfate. And based on some things you read online, it’s veritable witchcraft the amazing things it can help with! Here are the purported benefits one can get from Epsom salts:

  • Ease stress and improve sleep and concentration
  • Muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use
  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins

Epsoak comes in 3 varieties:

  • Sleep: Epsom salts with lavender essential oil to encourage deeper sleep
  • Muscle Soak: Epsom salts with eucalyptus and peppermint for soothing muscle pain
  • Epsoak: just plain old Epsom salts

epsoak epsom salts san francisco salt company review

I took a soak in the tub with Muscle Soak Epsom salts and I did find that it was relaxing. I could feel an added buoyancy to the water, which was nice. (Have you heard of float centers? They have float chambers and apparently people lay in them for a while to relax. They have A LOT of Epsom salts in the water in these tanks. You can also float in the Great Salt Lake due to the high mineral content… but floating there is stinky.) The scent was nice, not too strong and overpowering but enough that you could definitely tell it was there. I emerged from my soak feeling calmed down, but taking the time to relax in the tub can almost always do that. Provided you can block out the “ambient” sounds of spouse/kid/dog. The sore spot I’ve had in my hip/glute/IT band/leg in general felt better… but it wasn’t magically healed.

You can also use Epsom salts as a scrub, so I tried that. I mixed some into a bowl with some oil and used that in the shower. It’s a great exfoliant, but so far I’ve not ever experienced magical release from muscle knots by targeted application of an Epsom product.

So do Epsom salts work? This is one of those areas that I feel is kind of gray. Some people swear by them, some people dismiss them entirely. I think there can absolutely be placebo effect in play. If you’re hopeful and optimistic, outcomes are usually going to be better. (That’s why I tell myself “You’re not going to get sick.” whenever my daughter comes home with a cold. I’m sure that 50% of the time when I don’t catch whatever she had it’s all due to positive thoughts! LOL!)

That said, I have purchased a little milk carton-y thing of Epsom salts in the past at the drugstore and the contents were super compressed and almost had to be chiseled out. Maybe I got a dud. But that wasn’t the case with the San Francisco Salt Company’s product. Epsoak poured out of the bag easily. I liked them all well enough to use again, although I can’t say with any certainty that it was healing physical ailments. But it was definitely relaxing and that’s worth looking at in itself. I don’t find very many moments to just relax and be these days.

PS – They also have gourmet culinary salts for sale. If you’ve never sprinkled fancy salt on a salad or sandwich, you’re missing out. I’ve not tried these, but they sound good.

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