Thursday, December 25, 2014

Suunto Ambit3 GPS Watch Review

I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 610 for the past year.  I was curious how some of the other GPS watches compared.  I was excited when I got the Suunto Ambit3 Sport to try out.
The first thing that I will have to say is that I love the blue color.  Usually I like to have black gear and don’t go for the more flashy colors, but it looks good without being too crazy.  The watch is a little bulky (thicker) compared to some of the newer watches out there, including my Forerunner 610.  That is probably because it needs the extra space for its GPS components. 
The first thing that you do is go through the setup page.  It asks you some basic questions and then you are on your way.  The data that you see on the watch is customizable, but you will have to connect the watch to your computer to do that, which is not the case for the Garmin watches.  The Ambit3 is made to not only work for running, but bicycle riding and swimming too.  I did test out the watch on my bike, but not in the pool.  I will only review the running portion of the watch in this review though.

It comes with a Bluetooth heart rate strap, which pairs with the Ambit3, but you can also pair it with most of the newer smart phones as well.  This is a feature that I really like.  The heart rate strap is more comfortable in my opinion than the Garmin HR strap.

Another area where the Ambit3 excels is their charging cable.  I have always had problems with my Garmin charging cable that came with my Forerunner 610 (maybe they made changes with the newer Forerunner 620).  The Ambit3 cable is kind of like an alligator clip, but it keeps a good connection and charges quickly. 

I ran with the watch for quite a while (most of the time with my Garmin on the other wrist) and there are some definite advantages in comparison to the Forerunner 610.  The biggest advantage is that the Ambit3 is probably one of the most accurate GPS watches out there.  For more serious runners, this is going to vital.  It will give you better readings on your pace, distance, and other measurables.   I also found that the battery life on the Ambit3 was superior to the Forerunner 610.  I really like that the Ambit3 can suggest the amount of recovery time you will need after a workout as well.

The areas where I found the Garmin to be superior was the ease of use compared to the Ambit3.  Garmin had a touch screen and customizable data pages that you could change mid run, or right before a race.  The Ambit3 is all controlled by the buttons on the side of the watch.  I personally like the touch screen.

There really isn’t a perfect watch for everyone.  Both the Forerunner 610 and the Ambit3 are great watches, but are not for the runner who only runs once in a while, mainly because of the price.  The Ambit3 costs about $400.  The Forerunner is significantly less, but is an older model and does not offer swimming or a decent bicycle mode.

In my opinion, the Ambit3 is a great watch for someone who will be using it for multiple sports or are preparing for a triathlon.  It will also be beneficial for the more serious runner who is looking for extremely accurate data from their workouts.  I would recommend the Ambit3 as long as it would be a good fit for you. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Source Hydration Products Review



We are told that we need to hydrate before and during exercise.  There are so many options out there in regards to bringing fluids with you.  There are hand held water bottles, waist packs, and backpacks.  I have even seen shirts that have a water bladder built in.  Most hydration packs have the same basic features.  Source, a hydration company out of Israel, is adding some innovative changes to make your hydration experience better. Let’s look at some of the features that make Source’s packs great. 

Hydration Bladder: The hydration bladder has a glass-like film that protects against bacteria build-up offers an experience without that plastic taste common with most hydration bladders.  It is easy to clean and has a wide mouth, so it is easy to fill.  The hydration tubes have a quick connect to make cleaning easier and each hose has an insulated weave cover to keep your fluids cool.  It has a “helix valve” which offers a 360 degree mouthpiece so you don’t need to bite in a specific direction to get water.  The mouthpiece comes with a dirt guard (cover) to keep the mouthpiece clean and there are magnetic clips to keep the hose from dangling.

Special Pack Features: Some of the innovative pack features include a whistle that is built into the chest strap.  This is a great safety feature that would be great if you injure yourself on a trail run or if someone tries to approach you on your run around the block. The packs are light weight and well ventilated.  Their closed-strap system makes sure that you don’t have loose straps smacking your sides as you run.  Some of their packs have hip pockets for easy storage of your phone or energy gels. There are also insulated pockets, hiking pole straps, and detachable storage pouches on some models.  Let’s look at a few of the products that I tested.

The Dune hydration pack features “X-Fit” shoulder straps that allow a perfect fit for different body types.  You will feel less stress on your shoulders and an overall better fit with this unique design.  I am a big fan.  The Dune comes with a 1.5 liter low profile hydration bladder with the magnetic clips. There is a hip pocket on either side that I used to store my phone and energy gels. They are the right size and easy to access while in the middle of a run.  There is a sternum strap to keep the pack from moving around.  It has bungee cords for storing an extra layer of clothing and an internal pocket for storage.  This is a great pack that you could just as easily use during a race or a leisurely trail run.  The only thing I would change on this pack is adding a 2.0 liter bladder, which is easy to do later.

Dune Hydration Pack
Dune Hydration Pack


Another great pack from Source that I tested was the Pulse hydration pack.  It provides more space for storage and a larger bladder at 2 or 3 Liters depending on which one you purchase.  It comes with two insulated vertical pouches (one for your hydration bladder and one for a spare water bottle or your lunch).  It also has a removable storage area and waist belt.  This is a great pack for trail running and hiking.  It also worked well on my long runs, but I liked the Dune better for use on race day because of the hip pouches.  The Pulse is a very well put together pack though and you wouldn’t be disappointed with the purchase.

Pulse Hydration Pack
Another innovative product from Source is their DVide bladder.  It comes in a 2 liter and 3 liter option.  Get ready for this.  It has two compartments each with its own tube.  That’s right folks, you can have both water and your electrolyte drinks on your run.  What an awesome idea!  The tubes are color coded (blue and orange) so you know what you are drinking.  I can’t believe that someone hasn’t thought of this sooner.  It is a great idea and it works perfectly.  The only thing that is missing is a color coded insulated weave cover.  
DVide Hydration Bladder
DVide Hydration Bladder
Source also came up with a way to refill your bladder while you are out and about.  Their UTA – Universal Tube Adapter works with the quick connect system on your hydration bladders and tubes.  You simply attach the UTA adapter and put in on a water bottle or water tap.  You keep the bottle or tap above the hydrations pack and that’s it, simple as that.  You will be restocked in no time. (50 seconds for a 1.5 liter water bottle or 2 liters out of a tap in about 45 seconds.    

UTA - Universal Tube Adapter
UTA connected to a water bottle

I was extremely impressed with all the innovative features and how comfortable the Source hydration packs were.  The products use cutting edge technology to deliver clean great tasting water at a decent price.  Check out their hydration products at www.sourceoutdoor.com.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Friday, December 19, 2014

IonLoop Review

There are tons of companies out there that offer wrist bands with holograms, negative ion technology, and magnet technology.  Do you know what the purpose of those bands are?  Could they help you to become a better runner?  Do you believe it is hocus pocus?  I will be reviewing the IonLoop bracelet with negative ion and magnet technology.  

First of all, let’s look at the technologies behind the bracelet (as stated on the IonLoop website).  The world is filled with atoms.  They can be either positively or negatively charged.  Positive ions come from places like computers, other electric devices, and the sun.  Our bodies absorb these positive ions, which can zap our energy.

What are negative ions?  Negative ions tend to have a positive effect on our thinking and sense of well-being.  Negative ions are found in places like rain, trees, grasses, and minerals.  Negative ions are thought to balance out the positive ions that zap your energy.  IonLoop gets their negative ions from a natural occurring mineral called tourmaline.  

As runners we tend to build up lactic acid in our muscles.  It is thought that the introduction of negative ions can reduce the recovery time for lactic acid buildup.  There are also reports that people that wear negative ion bracelets tend to have more focus and higher levels of performance when playing sports.  

Everyone knows what a magnet is.  The cells in your body create electrical charges and magnetic forces.  The human body requires magnetic fields to remain healthy.  Studies have shown that magnets may increase activity in blood flow, which may also help oxygen and other nutrients more effectively flow throughout your body.  Magnet therapy has been linked to helping facilitate the healing process. 

With that being said, I wanted to test out this technology with an open mind.  I don’t know if negative ion or magnet technologies are actually beneficial.  On the other hand, I feel that if you are not open to the possibility for these things to work, then you will not see the results even if they were present.

I will now share my experience over the past 3 weeks.  I have been using PowerBalance (knockoff) bands for over a year now.  While I don’t know if it works, I allow myself to be open to the idea of it working.  I got my IonLoop and replaced my fake PowerBalance band.  The band looks great and I did not notice that I had it on after a little while.  

I have noticed that I have been recovering from my runs faster and that my endurance has increase since I started using the IonLoop.  My shin splints have gone away and my IT band doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.  Now that you think I am nuts, let me put in my disclaimer.  My results could be just as much a placebo effect as effects coming from the band itself.  I am willing to accept that though and continue to believe. If it helps me to be a stronger runner, I don’t care if it’s a placebo effect or not.  

I really like the IonLoop.  They have several versions including ones for runners that have 5K, 13.1, and 26.2 printed on them.  They have 13 different colors options, a braided bracelet, and more.  IonLoop even sells a watch with magnets on the back.  You can go to www.ionloop.com to check out their extensive selection.  The bracelets sell for about $20 each.  I will be buying more as this one wears out.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Keep your eyes peeled as I will be giving away some IonLoop bracelets in my upcoming Running Without Injuries Giveaways.

* IonLoop makes no medical claims in regards to the technologies in their products.  They just relay the experiences of their customers.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hoka One One Huaka Review



Hoka One One (pronounced Ho-kah Oh-nay Oh-nay) is known for their cushion. Founders Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud started Hoka One One in 2009. Their vision was to create a shoe that would help alleviate fatigue, impact, and muscle strains so runners could just enjoy running. They produce light weight oversized shoes with plenty of cushioning. Some of their top sellers include the Bondi 3, Clifton, and Conquest.  If you want a shoe that feels like you are running on clouds, Hoka might have a shoe for you.  Today I am going to review the new kid on the block, the Huaka (pronounced Waaka).  

The Huaka is a lightweight, low heel drop shoe that is fast and comfortable.  Many of Hoka’s shoes have a high stack height and tons of cushion.  I tried the Rapa Nui Tarmac in the past and found that it had too much cushion for me.  I didn’t feel like I had a connection with the ground, causing me to run with bad form once I got tired.  That was not the case with the Huaka.  This is one comfortable shoe!  

The Huaka has a 2 mm heel drop.  I am used to the zero drop Altra shoes and I love that this has a lower heel drop as well.  It allows me to run with better posture and I can land mid to forefoot easier.  The Huaka also has an early stage meta-rocker which guides your foot during your stride, from heel strike to toe off.  

The shoe has a stack height of 25mm at the toe and 27mm at the heel.  I don’t feel like I am too high off the ground and the shoe felt very stable.  They use a very light cushion allowing the shoe to remain light and stable.  The Huaka weighs in at only 9.3 ounces for a men’s size 9.  Not bad for a cushioned shoe.  The best part of the cushioning is that your foot sits down in the midsole, which accommodates different types of feet and running styles.

The Huaka is just as good on groomed trails as it is on the road.  I am not sure if you would have enough traction in muddy conditions, but they worked great on the dry trails that I used.  I felt like I had great control and it really helped stabilize my ankles.  I think that this is Hoka’s best shoe yet.  If you are looking for a great training shoe with some cushion, give them a try.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Road ID Review

Wrist ID Elite

When we go out for a run, we have our normal running gear, but what would happen if you injure yourself or even worse, you get hit by a car.  Would the first responders know how to get a hold of your loved ones?  Would they know if you have any allergies to medication?  I always run with my phone, but the screen is locked and the first responders would not know my password.  I have my emergency contact information on the lock screen just in case, but there is another option. 

Wrist ID Slim
Road ID produces various bracelets and bands that go on your wrist, ankle, or shoelaces.  Each of the bands has a metal plate that is laser engraved with whatever information you would like.  I put my name, the city I live in, my wife and father’s phone numbers, and that I have no known medical allergies.  Here are some of the more popular products.

The Wrist ID Elite is the bracelet that I got.  It features the metal plate, a .75 inch silicone band, and a watch style buckle.  The band is adjustable and is easy to take on and off.  The silicone band comes in 15 different colors so you can customize it to fit your personality.  I didn’t cut enough off of the band and the metal buckle rubbed against my skin at first, causing irritation.  When I got home I cut a little more off and the bracelet fits perfectly now with no irritation.  
Wrist Sport ID

The Wrist ID Slim is similar to the Wrist ID Elite but is .47 inches wide and does not have the watch style buckle.  There are 14 colors to choose from and you can choose from 5 different sized bands.  With both the Wrist ID Elite and Wrist ID Slim, you can get different badges, which have various race distances, sports, and other symbols to further accessorize your bracelet.
Shoe ID

The Wrist ID Sport is a comfortable fabric bracelet that has a Velcro enclosure and has 3M reflective stitching to help make you more visible.  It comes in 7 different colors and comes in three sizes.  They also have the Shoe ID, Ankle ID, and Shoe Pouch ID.    

Ankle ID
One other feature that Road ID offers is their interactive bracelets.  This is where you put some of your information on the metal plate, but instead of putting your families contact information, it would have a phone number and serial number.  The phone number connects the first responders to an operator that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  You can change your information without having to order a new bracelet.  This costs $9.99 per year but the first year is included with the purchase of your Road ID product.


Shoe Pouch ID
This is a great product to help you get the medical attention that you need if the unthinkable ever happens.  We always think that we are safe and that nothing bad will happen.  If you couldn’t speak for yourself, would the first responders know how to get a hold of your loved ones?  With Road ID’s products, they would.  This would make a great holiday present for the runner in your life.  They are running some great holiday deals, so check them out.  Go to www.roadid.com to order yours today. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Running Buddy and Runnin' Buds Review

The Running Buddy was created by Julie Bradfield.  Julie wanted to create a belt-free storage option that she could put more than one energy gel in.  After spending over two years and over 1,000 miles of testing, the Running Buddy was created. 

The Running Buddy is worn on the waistband of your shorts or pants.  It is held together by powerful magnets and has a dri-fit material that is comfortable against your skin.  The pouch is water and sweat resistant and has a separator so you can keep your cash/cards separate from your phone.  There are several sizes to choose from.  I got the Galaxy Note version for my Samsung Galaxy S5 with a case and it fits great.

I had initial concerns about comfort and if the pouch would stay in place when I first received it. My concerns quickly disappeared though as the magnets are very strong and hold the Running Buddy in place very well.  The dri-fit backing is very comfortable as well.  I took it out for my first test run and freaked out for a second after about a mile.  I usually run with my phone in my pocket, which I hate.  I didn’t feel my phone bouncing around and thought it had fallen out of my pocket.  Then I realized that I had on the Running Buddy. I was surprised that it was so comfortable that I didn’t even realize I had it on.  Now that’s a great product.

The Running Buddy is well put together and is inexpensive starting at $22.99 for pouches that will hold your phones and $13.99 for a mini version that would be great for carrying smaller items.  These would be a great for women who want to take their license and cards shopping, but want to leave their purse at home.

The Running Buddy also has a single earphone called the Runnin’ Buds. The Runnin’ Buds are great, especially if you run at night.  It is more important to be aware of your surroundings at night and running with standard ear buds means that one is dangling around hitting you in the chest (or face).  I love the idea of having one ear free from music, so you can pay attention to other runners, cyclist, or cars that are nearby.  It did take a little while to get used to only running with music in one ear, but these buds work great.  They have a sports style ear clip that will hold the bud securely.  I found that these ear buds stay in place very well and have great sound.  They also have a built in microphone so you can talk on the phone if the person on the other end doesn’t mind hearing you breathe.   These are a great alternative and are priced at only $17.99.  Give them a try.

Running Buddy provided me with a discount code to give to my readers.  Enter the code "RB15" at checkout at www.therunningbuddy.com for 15% off your order.  You can also purchase your Running Buddy products at Amazon, but will not be able to use the discount code.  I will be giving away a Running Buddy in my giveaway that starts on on December 15th, so keep your eyes peeled.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do you know when to replace your running shoes? The Mino does!



Do you know that running on worn out shoes is one of the primary reasons for injuries in runners?  Do you know when to replace your shoes?  Trying to get a straight answer out of any runner or running store as to when you should replace your shoes is difficult at best.  There are a few common theories.

One theory is that you should replace your shoes every 300-600 miles depending on the brand.  I have read about runners who replace their shoes every 200 miles and others who run over 1,000 miles in a pair of shoes.  The truth is that you can’t really go by mileage because it depends on too many factors including you weight, running style, and type of terrain you run on.

Another popular theory is that you should replace your shoes every 6 months.  This is not a good option either.  I might run 400 miles in that 6 month period where another runner might run 100 or 2,000 miles in that same 6 month period.  Many runners also have several pairs of shoes so they might not put that many miles on each pair of shoes.

The third theory that I hear a lot is that people retire a pair of shoes when they can tell that the cushion or sole of the shoe shows wear.  The problem with this theory is that by the time you can see that the soles are worn out or that the cushioning has started to collapse, you have probably already started to injure yourself.  So how do you know when to replace a pair of shoes?

There is a product called the Mino that can help.  The Mino is a 2.5mm thick pad that you put under the insole of your shoes.  It measures the compression each time you take a step.  The best part is that you don’t have to worry about when to replace your shoes.  The Mino has a set of 6 lights.  As you run more miles in your shoes, more lights will illuminate.  When you get to the 5th (yellow) light you know that you will need to replace your shoes soon.  The 6th (red) light means you need to replace your shoes now.  Every once in a while, just lift up your insole and push the button on the Mino to see how many lights are lit up.  It really is that simple.

My primary concern was if I would feel this under my insole or if it would change the way I ran.  I was surprised to find out that I didn’t even know it was there.  The Mino comes with a 2nd pad to put in your other shoe so your feet will still be the same height from the ground. 

Some runners track mileage for each shoe they run in.  What a pain!  I have several pairs of shoes and don’t want to hassle with a spreadsheet to track my mileage.  I absolutely love this product and I have a pair in every shoe that I own.  For the month of November, you can purchase the Mino at 33% off ($10 each) at www.runmino.com.  Use the coupon code "TEN" at checkout. You can find out more information about the Mino on their website as well. 

Your shoes are intended to protect your feet for a set amount of miles and after that; you dramatically increase the chance of injury.  I think the Mino could quite possibly be the product of the year in 2014.  This would be a great holiday gift for the runner in your life.  Grab your own Mino and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I tried out the Newton Gravity III that I got a while back and because of injuries I had a friend test them out for me.  He generously agreed to review them for the Running Without Injuries Blog.  Here it is, courtesy of Ferdinand Batatan. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to test out the Newton Gravity III. At first, I was a little bit hesitant on how this shoe will perform since I’m used to the Altra’s zero drop technology/innovation.



It took lot of trial and error, mostly error, to find the right shoes for me. A very good friend of mine introduced me to Altra shoes and voila…I found my shoes. In my opinion, once you find the right shoes, you stick with them!





Though I previously owned a Newton Motion shoes (with 4 lugs)… I have to say that I had a love it/hate relationship with the Motion shoes. The loved the feeling of testing out new “lugs” innovation and hated finding out that the shoes did not work for me.



With that being said, should I try new shoes made by the same company? Ehhhhh, sure why not?!?  My plan was to run for a short distance only and if it doesn’t feel right, then I would be done with them….that’s how I roll.



So there I went.  I spent the first mile being careful of how I landed on my feet, so I didn’t injure myself. To be more conservative, I ran 8:30 min/mi pace to get the right feel for the Gravity III’s. They didn’t feel too bad for the first mile, so I went for another mile to test it further.



My biggest concerns were:



· Would the 3mm toe to heel drop causes some muscle tightness on my calves since I am used to a zero drop shoe?



· Would the lugs be an issue in balancing myself every time I land my feet like with the Motion shoes?



I have to say that I was really surprised how the shoes performed.  The shoes are more stable than the Motion and the ride is so natural that it lets my feet do what they are supposed to do. The 5 lugs are well placed, helping balance my forefoot and letting me feel the ground under my feet. The shoes are really not that cushy compared to Altra but enough to give me a soft landing. The Gravity III’s lightweight and breathable mesh was comfortable and because they are breathable, they won’t get that funky smell after each run.



I have to say that I ended up with a total of 9 miles.  I love all 9 miles with the Gravity III.



Thanks Newton….this time you hit the mark!

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.


Thank you Ferdi for the great review.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Noxgear Tracer 360 Review




I ran across another product online and knew immediately that I had to try it.  The Tracer 360+ is an illuminated light vest that can help keep you safe when running or cycling in the dark. It is made by Noxgear, a company based out of Ohio.  All of their products are sewn and assembled in the USA.  Daylight Savings Time is here and it gets dark so early now.  Chances are that unless you run during lunch, you will be running in the dark.  With drivers becoming more distracted by the day with food, being tired, texting, or trying to get the kids to settle down in the back seat, it is important to do everything you can to increase your visibility while running in the dark.

Noxgear has the Tracer 360, Tracer 360+ (which adds reflective shoulder straps), and they have a Kickstarter to raise money for the Spot360 Illuminated Dog Vest (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/noxgear/spot360-illuminated-reflective-and-fluorescent-dog).

The Tracer 360+ is made of a reflective chest strap which is adjustable, comfortable, and does a really good job of holding the vest in place with no bouncing or shifting.

There is the main unit that houses the batteries and is where the fiber optic cables get their light from.  This main unit has a single power button that is easy to use.  Each time you push the button it cycles through the six solid colors or 5 different blinking modes.   

You really have to see it to believe how cool it really is.  To turn the unit off, just hold down the power button for 2 seconds.  The main unit is comfortable and has a soft backing that will not irritate your back.

The Tracer 360+ is powered by 3 AAA batteries and will last for up to 40 hours.  When you turn on the unit, it will blink green two times to let you know the battery level is good, blink yellow two times to let you know you have about one hour left, and blink red if you need to replace the batteries.  I love this feature.  It would be terrible to run out of batteries in the middle of a run on a dark road.

The Tracer 360 is easy to put on and stays in place well.  You simply put the fiber optic cables over your shoulders, buckle the belt, and use two little cord locks to tighten the cables so they don’t slip off your shoulders.

Pros:
Extremely visible
Batteries last for a long time (up to 40 hours)
Lets you know when to replace batteries
Lightweight and comfortable
Good in all weather conditions
Can use over jackets easily

Cons:
I have yet to find one

The Tracer 360 is $59.99, which does not include the reflective shoulder straps.  The Tracer 360+ with the reflective shoulder straps is $62.99.  You can purchase them directly at www.noxgear.com.  This is a wonderful product and I strongly recommend it, not just because it will help to keep you safe, but it is really cool.  The different flashing light combinations make you look like you are from some futuristic movie.  I have read tons of comments about how people are stopped with the Tracer 360 and were asked where they got it. 

Get your Tracer 360 today, you won’t regret it.  With Christmas and Hanukkah right around the corner, it might make the perfect gift for the runner in your life.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

SPI Belt and SPI Band Review

I received a SPI (Small Personal Item) Belt and SPI Band last week to review.  I have seen these Facebook and was really excited because I have had issues in the past finding something that would hold my Samsung Galaxy S5 with a case. 

SPI was established in 2007 and makes product that are great for walking, running, hiking, cycling, and more.  The CEO, Kim Overton, was jogging one day with her keys tucked into her bra.  She thought to herself, “There's got to be a better way.”  Their products line now includes the SPI Belts for both adults and kids, the SPI Band that can go on your wrist or ankle, Messenger bags, water bottle holders, dog leashes and more.

The SPI Belt definitely lives up to the hype.  The elastic belt is adjustable and has a buckle, which makes it easy to put on.  The stretchy zippered pouch was able to fit my Galaxy S5 with the case (although it did take a little work).  As promised, the belt and its contents do not bounce around at all.  It was so comfortable that I didn’t even realize that I had it on during my run.  The SPI Belt is made in the USA, which is a rarity and I always like buying American products when possible.  The only negative thing that I have to say about the SPI belt is that I had the pouch on my lower back and the pouch is not waterproof, so my phone has some sweat on it.  Not a deal breaker for me and SPI does sell a waterproof accessory bag that you can use in the pouch as well.


The SPI Band is a great product as well.  I tried to use it both on my wrist and ankle and found that I prefer using it on my ankle.  You can stash smaller items like a driver’s license, credit card, cash, or car keys with ease.  I personally don't like things on my wrist and found that it was not breathable enough for my wrist (in my opinion).  I did not have any breathability issues when using the SPI band on my ankle though.  This would be perfect during races when you need to stash your car keys.

I think that SPI puts out great products and has an extensive product line.  If I had to choose between the SPI Belt and Band, I would suggest the belt because of its versatility.  They are both great products though and I would definitely recommend them. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dr. Cool Wrap Review

 I have been dealing with shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, sore knees and hips for quite a while now.  I usually use a foam roller and ice at night before I go to bed.  Dr. Cool came up with a great product that allows you to ice while you are on a run, climbing a mountain, or just out and about.

The Dr. Cool Wrap combines the benefits of ice and compression in one good looking package.  There are three sizes:

3” x 25” Wrap for smaller areas.  This is ideal for Plantar Fasciitis, your wrist, and ankle.
4” x 50” Wrap for medium areas.  This is ideal for your elbow, knee, shin, and calf.
6” x 50” Wrap for larger areas.  This is ideal for back, shoulder, and thigh.

Each size is offered in 7 colors.  The 3” and 4” wraps also have an anchor hole which can be helpful when you start to wrap your injury.  It has a Velcro closure which does a very good job at holding the wrap in place. 
The Dr. Cool Wrap is very easy to use.  You simply wet the blue side and fold or roll the wrap up.  You throw it in the freezer for 20-40 minutes, then it is ready to use.  I found that it was a little difficult to wrap right after you pull it out of the freezer because it was still a little rigid.  You might have to rewrap it after a minute or two, but it fits perfectly after that.  

Pros:
Made to use while on the go.
Combines  ice and compression in one package
Comes in three sizes and 7 colors
Ready to use in 20-40 minutes

Cons:
It only stays (very) cold for 15-20 minutes
If you put it under clothes, it might look like you wet yourself

I am very pleased with this product.  It seems very durable and should hold up for a long time.  I like that I can use it during my runs.  During my test runs, it did not slip and it felt comfortable the entire time.  Even after the wrap wasn’t quite as cold, I could still feel the benefits of the compression.  I will be using the Dr. Cool Wrap in the future to tame my shin splints and other ailments. 

Keep your eyes peeled because I will be giving away a few Dr. Cool Wraps over the next few weeks.  Tell your friends to follow my blog for their chance to win as well.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Topo Runduro Shoe Review


Topo Athletic has hit another one out of the park with their newest road shoe, the Runduro.  This is a great shoe and has earned a permanent place in my shoe lineup.  Have to throw in the baseball references before the season is over.

The Runduro is a light weight shoe weighing in at about 8.2 ounces.  It is made with a printed upper and features no seams.  It is one of the most comfortable shoes that I have run in.  As with most of Topo’s shoes, you do feel the ground as you run.  I found that there is the perfect amount of cushion.  Topo wants you to connect with the ground to give you more of an organic run.  

Some of my favorite features of this shoe include the 3mm heel drop which is low enough not throw your form out of alignment.  It also utilizes the BOA lacing system.  Gone are the days where you had to worry about if your shoes would become untied.  The boa system is a knob that you rotate to tighten the cable laces.  The Boa system works great and has a lifetime warranty.  

The “anatomical toe box” as they call it, is a wider toe box like Altra uses that allows your feet to spread out as your feet are naturally designed to do.  No more having your shoes push your big toe inward.  I can feel that I am more stable and have a better toe off since running in a wider toe box shoe.  Unlike most Altra shoes (which my wife calls clown shoes), the Runduro is a great looking shoe.

This is a superb medium to long distance shoe that you could train in or take out for your next race.  I love this shoe and I am sure you will too.  The Runduro starts at $120 and is well worth it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Topo Athletic MT Trail Shoe Review


So it has only been about 2 weeks since I wrote a product review on the Altra Instinct 2’s.  I wrote about the benefits of a zero drop/low drop shoe and the wider toe box.  I also stated that I might have found the perfect shoe for me.  While I love my Altra’s, I may have found its replacement already, at least for some of my runs.

Topo Athletic recently sent me a pair of the MT trail shoe to review.  They are great looking shoes, have a low 2.0mm. heel drop, which is low enough to make running in an ideal running form easier.  The MT also has the wider tow box just like the Altras.  It can be used on the road or trail with ease.

A little bit of history on Topo Athletic.  Tony Post was the President of a large shoe company and has over 30 years in the shoe industry.  A year and a half ago, Tony started Topo Athletic with the desire to create a shoe company that would help you train smarter.  He didn’t like how most shoes squished your toes, which is where the wide toe box comes into play.  He wanted to make a shoe that was nimble and allowed you to stay connected with the ground (i.e. feel the ground as you run).  Topo Athletic strives to make the best shoe available and welcomes customer feedback on how they can improve.  So now let’s get back to the MT’s.

My initial reaction is that the shoe looks great and felt great right out of the box.  My only initial concern was that there was not as much cushion as I was used to.  That concern was quickly squashed though.  I have been on three runs so far with the MT.  I went on two road (one fast and one easy) runs and a trail run.  The shoes felt amazing.  They were very quick on the road and had the perfect amount of cushioning.  The MT is also very light at around 8 ounces.  When I went on my trail run, I was running up granite outcroppings and felt like I was completely connected to the ground.  I never felt like I was going to slip and the material was extremely durable.  On multiple occasions I caught my toe on the granite and was worried that I would tear through the shoes outsole.  They didn’t even have a scratch on them.  They are a snap to clean as well.

The Topo MT retails for around $100 on the Topo website.  Give them a try and you will not be disappointed.