SOL REPUBLIC Relays Headphones

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I was sent a pair of SOL REPUBLIC’s Relays headphones to review, headphones that are meant to be used for an “active life”. Meaning it has the benefits of a sports headphone but also a day-to-day set as well.

SOL REPUBLIC Relay headphones

They are made to just pop right into the ear without need for lots of adjustments, but then they stay there throughout use: from “streets to the trails, train to the slopes” they aren’t supposed to fall out. And they do stay in. I even tried headbanging with them in and they didn’t move at all. My head hurt after that, but the headphones were still in my ears!

SOL REPUBLIC Relays in my ears

I should consider wearing makeup when I take these pics, huh? LOL

They are water and sweat resistant and include a clip so you can position the cable to stay out of your way. They include a mic with phone controls built in, which allows you to take calls and change the volume/tracks easily. The audio quality is very good. Very good! I was really impressed with how sharp everything sounded with these.

The two things I didn’t like about running in them:
1) I’ve gotten used to running with Far End Gear Short Buds, as the name implies… they have a very short cord that runs from the phone in an armband to my ear.
2) My Far End Gear earbud is also just that, an EAR BUD… no plural. It keeps one ear open to hear the surrounding world at all times. Something I feel is essential for safety.

So for testing these, I wore both earbuds inside the gates of my neighborhood, but when I left I removed one, just to be safer.

They come with four different sizes of ear tips, so you can choose the size that works best for you. I found that the smallest size worked best for me, and it was smaller than most headphones I’ve seen with the changeable tips. The smaller size is also what made this the first pair of that type of headphones that feel like they fit me properly. And what’s really cool about that, they have an “Ear Tips for Life” program. So if you lose the tips, SOL REPUBLIC will replace them. They’re the only manufacturer with that promise.

SOL REPUBLIC tips

They retail for $79.99 at Verizon Wireless and will be available nationwide in Black & White, Horizon Blue and Lemon Lime at leading nationwide retailers in February 2014.

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

Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Sports Headset

Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Headset is a really long title for a product… but it’s also a pretty nice little gadget. Short and simple explanation: it is sport headphones that connect to your bluetooth enabled phone so you can listen to tunes without cords dangling around and take calls while you’re on the go.

(Not that I’m really into taking a lot of calls on the run. I was immediately struck by one of the Siri ads when it was first released that had a guy running and scheduling meetings via Siri. That didn’t look productive to me… that looked stupid to me! The run should be an escape from that nonsense!)

Photo

Messy ponytail run day... Hadn't planned on modeling the Jabra Sport this day, but then decided to snap the shot!

Likes:

  • Good sound quality
  • No cords
  • Quick easy pairing with my iPhone 3gs (Yes, I’m still on the 3gs… I’m so out of date!)
  • Easy to use buttons
  • Voice feedback letting you know the device is on, paired, turning off, etc.
  • Built-in FM radio
  • Works with Endomondo Sports Tracker to pause and get feedback on workout.
  • Comes with different ear gels to get a more customized in-ear fit

Dislikes:

  • I felt the over-the-ear part was kind of bulky
  • Having to charge my headphones. I’ve had a few times when I went to use these and found the battery was drained.
  • Wearing a bud in each ear while running outside… I just really feel that isn’t safe, makes it harder to hear the cars or weirdos approaching.

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Apparently these are “military-grade” rain, dust and shock protection. Not exactly sure what kind of testing that entails, but it makes them sound pretty tough. These are actually pretty useful for house-cleaning too. I actually find that I catch headphone cords on lots of things when wearing them around the house to clean. It’s no fun having your headphones violently yanked from your head by a cabinet as you reach for some cleaning chemical!

MSRP for this is $99.99, you can find it for various prices on Amazon (I found it for $79.99 in limited stock to $90.)

FCC Legalese: These were provided to me free of charge from the folks at Jabra. They didn’t give me any instructions on what to write, this post contains my own random thoughts.

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Review: One Good Earbud

One Good EarbudAfter I mentioned One Good Earbud in an earlier post, the folks there contacted me and asked if I would like to try the new prototype they are developing. This version is similar to the buds that come with iPods/iPhones. The one they sent me has an inline microphone as well, so I can use it with my iPhone (which is actually how I carry music with me when I run anyway).

Previously I would run with one earbud in and then I would tuck the other earbud inside my sports bra strap so it wasn’t bouncing around. But that’s annoying… I tried using a cord-keeper thing to wrap the excess cord and spare earbud around, but that ended up being an uncomfortable lump stuck inside my shirt.

So I think it’s probably pretty obvious that I LOVED the idea of having an option for running that is only one earbud right out of the gate. And when I put it into practice? Still love it! I use the earbud in combination with my YurBuds adapter and it creates a snug but comfortable fit that doesn’t fall out. Plus combining the two makes it seem like the YurBud is protecting the One Good Earbud from sweat so it hopefully has a long life.

Since mine is a prototype, there are features that the production model will have that are different from mine.  But I found the microphone worked great for taking calls and the button control to answer calls or advance tracks worked perfectly.

I honestly hope that the company sees continued success, because I don’t ever want to go back to running with a two earbud set of headphones AND I honestly think that everybody should consider getting a pair because it is SOOOOO much safer to keep one ear open to your surroundings. My sister-in-law recently left me a voicemail saying she took the advice about only using one bud after seeing it here on my blog and said that it really works, she felt better knowing she was improving her safety that way.

I did receive this product from One Good Earbud for free, but the opinions here are my own.

Headphone Innovations

I’ve written about headphones/earbuds on here many times. It seems like so many of us are looking for the ideal pair of headphones. And I have some definite ideas about what I feel would be the ideal set-up for me. Recently I’ve found two things that seem pretty cool and just wanted to share them with you.

(Note: I’ve not tried either of these… just found them online.)
(Note: since posting this originally, I have had the opportunity to try the One Good Earbud – and I love it!)

ZipBuds

ZipBuds
These looked like the good solution to keeping headphones in my purse. Usually when I keep a pair in my purse, when I take them out to use them they are a tangled mess. On Zipbuds the cord has a “zipper” on them, so you just pull the zipper up to keep the cord together. They include a sport clip that is detachable so you can choose whether you want or need that during use.  They come in cute colors (like pink! and blue!) with black or white accents. The downside of this pair is that when I keep headphones in my purse, I usually want them to have a microphone integrated for use with my iPhone, and these don’t have that as an option.  Also, they’re kind of pricey at $39.99, for headphones that don’t have a microphone feature.

One Good Earbud

One Good Earbud
When I run by myself outdoors, I usually like to have something playing on my iPhone but I never NEVER wear two headphones in at the same time. It’s just not safe, I like to be aware of my surroundings. So when I saw these I was really excited… this is something that I have envisioned as part of my dream headphone set-up for running. It’s just a single earbud… but it still delivers good quality sound (so they say). And they have several different options, from a single bud to a wraparound style to one with a built-in microphone. (People always seem to call me when I’m running, so yeah… I’d take the microphone version! I do choose to ignore some of those calls, but sometimes I feel compelled to answer.)  These range in price from $19.99 to $27.99 and are not cute colors (the microphone one is a goldish color… I hate yellow gold, even on my headphones!).

What do you think about these, do they look like features you’d be interested in? Leave a comment and let me know. (Bonus points if you’ve actually used these before and can give me some feedback!)

Tuning in vs. Zoning out

Nothing irritated me more as a coach than running up next to someone to ask, “How’s it going?” and receiving no response because the runner has headphones in and their music turned up so loud they weren’t even aware of me coming up next to them. The reason it bothers me so much isn’t because they’re oblivious to the pearls of wisdom I’m about to share… it bothers me because it is SO UNSAFE!

So here are a couple of my own tips:

A picture showing out-ear earphones. This part...

Image via Wikipedia

Zoning Out (aka, using headphones)
I admit to it… listening to headphones can be a great motivator. Training for my first marathon completely on my own I listened to numerous audiobooks while training.  Knowing that I could find out “what happens next” by going out for a run helped me get going on hard days. And having fun music is a great way to keep yourself moving. Lately I’ve been really enjoying listening to All Day by Girl Talk while I run.  But these shouldn’t come at the expense of hearing things around you.

Pop one of the earbuds out and only use one. This will keep one ear open to monitor your surroundings.

Keep the volume low. If others around you can pick up the song and sing along with your tunes, it’s too loud!

Have a friend or family member ask you a question before you head out when you have your headphones in. If you can’t hear them, you can’t hear anyone around you while you’re running.

Tuning in (aka, no headphones)
Running without headphones every now and then allows you to tune into your body, to really focus on what is happening. The other day I went out for a 4 mile run without any technology, just me and the run. This is such a good experience! The first time I did it I was a little flustered by it, I have gotten really good at tuning myself out (not just in running, but in many facets of life). Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge and do a whole run without the headphones, try removing them for 5 or 10 minutes.

Notice your footfall, is it heavy or dragging?
Notice your breathing, is it labored or wheezing?
Notice your posture, are you hunched over or leaning back?
Notice your hands, are they up too high or too low?
Notice your body, after a quick scan does everything feel alright?
Notice the world around you, have you ever paid attention to it?

I’m not saying that one way or the other is the ONLY WAY. I think there is room for both. But if you are running with a group or running with a coach, try to make yourself a little more available for communication and try “tuning in” rather than “zoning out”!

Product Review: Yurbuds

A while back I was offered a pair of Yurbuds to test and review. And then I got busy doing so many of my runs while coaching, that I never had the time to just chill out with headphones and do a run on my own! But I’ve taken a few opportunities lately to do a little solo running, thus I’ve had the chance to bust out some headphones.

First things first, Yurbuds are not headphones… they are “earbud enhancers”. They are a silicone cover that fits on top of most standard earbuds. You can actually buy the headphones from the Yurbuds site, but you also have the option of buying just the Yurbuds enhancers.
Yurbuds

To buy them you need to take a photo of your ear, either with an existing earbud in place or with a quarter next to your ear for comparison. I’m an overachiever, so I did both!
Yurbuds example photo Yurbuds example photo 2
You send your comparison photo to the company and they’ll give you feedback on what size would best fit you. You place your order, then wait for your Yurbuds to arrive (don’t worry, it was fast).

I was a little apprehensive when I first saw the Yurbuds. I’ve bought a different pair of earbuds that had some kind of rubbery part that was supposed to go in the ear that were horrible. And these were even weirder looking, with a longer funnely end. But the material felt soft and squishy, so in they went.

Another funny thing, they come with instructions on inserting them. I love it when seemingly common items require instructions. (See: pants) But to get them to “lock” into place, you have to put them in at an angle that isn’t the intuitive way to insert them, then do a little twist. It’s not like you’re screwing them into place… but it is. Just a small twist and you can feel it pop into place.

And then it stays there while you exercise. No wiggling out, no moving… it really was quite impressive at how solid it felt, but it also seemed non-existent in my ear. No irritation at all. Also the sound enhancing qualities weren’t so overwhelming that it drowned out the world around me, I could still hear things fine. (Granted, I only use one earbud when running outside.)

These are sweat-proof, designed by a marathoner and triathlete, so they’re made to withstand endurance training. Plus they could be slipped over the headphones for a phone (iPhone headphones anyone?) and you’ll still be able to have functionality of the built-in microphone/controls without as much risk of sweating in the earbud and shorting it out.

I’m pretty happy with these. This is an element that would be included in my dream running headphones. Thank you Yurbuds for giving me this opportunity!

Giveaway: Sony Walkman MP3 Player

Want to win the Sony NWZ-W252 Walkman MP3 Player? You know you do…

Sony Walkman MP3 player
Recall, I mentioned this device on my blog a while back when it was first introduced. Well now Sony has offered to give one to a lucky Jill Will Run reader! [Read about the Sony Walkman MP3 Player]

Sony is one of the sponsors of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series, so if you are running one of those events coming up be sure to check them out. I’ll be participating in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll by coaching the Las Vegas Team Challenge group, so if you’re doing the Las Vegas race make sure to look up both Sony AND me!

We’re going to go with the same rules as the last giveaway…

1. Comment on this post.

2. Get an additional entry if you tweet about the contest:
I’m entering the Sony MP3 Walkman giveaway from @jillwillrun http://ow.ly/1SMl0 You should too!

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3. Get one more entry if you post about it on your blog and link back to this post.

The giveaway closed on Friday, June 4 at 6:00 PM Pacific time!

Bits & Pieces

Headphones:
During Monday’s run doing speed intervals on the treadmill, there was one moment that kind of stunk. The right earbud on my headphones died, it was a weird sensation of suddenly losing hearing in that ear. So now I have to find new headphones. Unfortunately, many headphones drive me nuts when working out. A lot of them have 4-foot cords. Why? That’s just 1 foot and 5 inches less than my entire height. Considering the cord just has to go from my arm to my head, that leaves a lot of excess to wind around or jam under the strap on my arm band. Plus, when I’m running outside or with friends, I often just leave one earbud in (the right earbud!) and the other one out. I like to be able to hear my surroundings or hear conversations with other people. So if anyone has a recommendation for a great pair of workout headphones, please leave them for me in the comments!

Tuesday Night Fun Run:
I went to the usual fun run hosted by our local Fleet Feet store last night. I love this run purely for the social aspect it provides. When I got on the freeway I suddenly realized that I forgot my Nike+. That bummed me out, I have a compulsive need to keep a log of all my runs. I just had to resign myself that I wouldn’t get to post these miles to my online account. Clouds were rolling in, the winds were picking up, and raindrops were beginning to hit my windshield as I drove. It looked like the run might be in a storm, but that didn’t really happen. The rain stopped and the winds calmed a little. My friends were all there for the run and we started out on the path. For some reason, the whole run felt hard on me. I felt like a slug, like I was dragging and slogging through mud. My lungs were having a hard time functioning the whole time and I wanted to stop for much of the run. But I didn’t let that negative thinking stop me. I just kept repeating to myself, “You are stronger than this.” And I did the whole run and felt good about finishing. Of course, my mind was a little bit shot at the end as well. I had a slight panic attack when I thought I had lost my car key on the run, fearing I’d have to beg everybody to go around the whole loop with me to look for it… only to realize it was IN MY HAND. Sheesh… I drove straight home and replenished with chocolate soy milk, some scrambled eggs, and leftover lentil sloppy joe filling I made the other night.

Hundred Push-Up Challenge:
I have not been feeling the love for this challenge lately. It just seemed like I maxed out at Week 5 and couldn’t progress. That left me frustrated and apathetic toward the whole thing. But last night I received an e-mail from the creators of the challenge saying that after receiving a lot of feedback about the incremental jumps being too difficult, they’ve retooled the challenge to make it more effective. So here’s my decision on the challenge: I’m going to give it a rest for a week or two. Then I’m going to start the whole thing over with the new program. I’m going to focus on form in the early weeks since I’ve already built up a fair amount of strength. Hopefully that will make the later weeks easier.