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.