Friday, November 27, 2015

Apace Vision LED Safety Lights Review


I have been running quite a bit lately, either early in the morning or at night after I put my kids to bed.  Both times require me to run in the dark.  While I live in an area with well-lit sidewalks, I prefer to run in the bike lane on the road (facing oncoming traffic).  In doing so, I need to take extra precautions in order to ensure cars see me.  Clip-on lights, light vests, and reflective clothing are all great to wear.  Some of these items can be rather pricey like my favorite light vest, the Noxgear 360 (on sale for $52.50, regularly $69.95).

I found a cheaper option though.  The Apace Vision LED lights are inexpensive and come in a package of two.  You also get 2 spare batteries, Velcro straps, and a miniature screwdriver, which you will need to change the batteries.

You get two LED lights per package.  They either come in red or blue.  The lights can either produce a solid light or strobe effect.  It is as simple as pressing a button at the front of the light.  I got 2 sets to test out so I used one blue and one red light on the front of my hydration backpack.  I set the lights to the strobe effect and then enjoy watching cars put on their brakes because they think they see a police car in the distance, but it’s just me.  It’s the little things that keep me sane on my long runs.

The lights are weatherproof and the LED lights are really bright.  My only complaint is that the Velcro straps were made to go around a belt or bicycle handlebars so they are really short.  They will not fit around a wrist, arm, or ankle.  The lights clip right to your clothing or running gear so the short Velcro strap is not a big deal at all. 

Pros:
Bright LED lights
2 modes (solid or flashing effects)
Replacement batteries
Clips to clothes or running gear
Great price

Cons:
The Velcro straps aren’t long enough to go around a wrist, arm, or ankle.
 
Apace Vision’s Social Media Links:

The Apace Vision LED safety lights are a great deal at $19.97-$20.97 on Amazon.  What makes the deal even better is that you get spare batteries, which would probably cost you $6-10 for two.  I was really pleased with the quality of the materials and the lights seem like they will last for quite a long time.  Apace offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty.  That way you can test them out risk-free.  Running safety is something that you should take very seriously and being seen is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety.  For more information on staying safe when running in the dark, see one of my old blog post (click here).

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, November 25, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Gear Under $50



It is that time a year again where we try to find the perfect gifts for our significant other, children, and parents.  If they are runners, you are in luck because there are plenty of great products for under $50 to choose from.  I have put together a list of some of my favorite products.

Runners who train at night:

This is a very simple product that can keep you safe when you run at night. The pair of clip-on LED lights are bright and can either provide a steady light or a strobe effect for more visibility.  I like to run with one red and one blue light clipped on the front of my hydration backpack.  People definitely see me coming.  


The Nathan Sports Orion Strobe light combines a LED light to guide your way and a red light to make sure you are seen.  The lights can be set to solid or flashing in many different combinations.  It clips to your clothes or the included belt.  You will never have to buy batteries because the Orion Strobe Light comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a built in USB charging. 
If you get hurt on a run, would the paramedics know how contact your loved ones? With the Wrist ID Sport from Road ID, they would. It is a comfortable bracelet with reflective strips and a metal plate that your emergency contact information is engraved onto. It comes with a Velcro enclosure for ease of use.


For the new runner:

Swiftwick claims their socks are “the best socks you will ever wear guaranteed.”  Their claims have merit to them.  Swiftwick socks are durable and feel great thanks to the premium materials and compression technology.  That means that you will have a blister free run with superior wicking.  If you don’t like them, Swiftwick will buy you another pair of socks.  Now that’s a guarantee!


Having a good pair of sunglasses that won’t bounce around and aren’t polarized can go a long way in making your run more enjoyable.  XX2i makes great sunglasses that are light weight and come with a case.  You also get the best guarantee in the business. You have 365 days to test them out and if you don’t like them for whatever reason, you can return them and get your money back.  They also have a lifetime warranty where they will replaced if you scratch or break them, you just pay a nominal shipping fee.  

Do you know when to change your running shoes? Most people don’t. The Mino is a pad that you put under your insole. The LED lights on the Mino will tell you when to buy a new pair of shoes before you injure yourself from running in shoes that are worn out. It’s that simple.  Get one for every pair of shoes.   


Products for Race Day:

Little things can make a huge difference.  I will never pin another bib to my shirt.  The Nathan Race Number Belt is a soft elastic belt that won’t chafe you.  It is adjustable and will fit most people.  There is a plastic clip and two toggles to hold you race bib on.
Nothing is worse than taking a shower after a race or long run and finding out that you have chafing issues.  Blue Steel’s Anti-Chafe Cream protects against blisters, skin rashes, chafing, and won’t stain your clothes.  It is made with tea tree oil which can soothe irritated skin as well.


When you are running for long distances, your body needs fuel to keep working at its peak performance.  Gu Energy Gels are only 100 calories and essential electrolytes.  There are dual sources of energy from maltodextrin and fructose for long lasting energy.  If you have ever been on a long run and ran out of energy, than you know how important fueling can be.  Gu’s Energy Gels are tasty and convenient.

Products to make your muscles happy:

OOFOS makes the most comfortable recovery sandal around.  Maybe your boss will be okay with you wearing them to work?  Not only does OOFOS foam absorb 37% more shock than other materials, but they cradle your arches as well.  They are machine washable and float. Beware, once you put them on, you won’t want to take them off.   

Many runners say that compression socks help to reduce swelling, enhance blood circulation, and reduce muscle vibration allowing you to run more efficiently and recover faster.  It may look like you are wearing knee high socks, but if you can get past that it may help your poor muscles recover for that next punishing run.  The Allrounder is an extremely comfortable compression sock that uses true graduated compression, unlike some of the cheaper compression socks out there.  They use seamless TekWeb technology to prevent blisters.  The Allrounder is also made with antimicrobial fibers to keep the socks from smelling, and they provide a cooling effect.

Stretching your muscles out on a regular basis will help you recover quicker, increase flexability, and reduce the risk of injury from running.  The OPTP Stretch Out Strap is 6’4” in length and has multiple loops to make it easier to hold while stretching.  The included exercise book comes with 30 exercises to help you along the way.  I use mine almost every night.
Sometimes you need to ice your muscles after a long run, but don’t have time to sit and break out the ice cup. Dr. Cool has a solution in their Ice/Compression wrap. Their wraps come in multiple colors to suit your personality and you can even get a travel case/cooler (the Dr. Cooler) for an additional $9.99. You simply wet the wrap, throw it in the freezer for 20-40 minutes, and wrap up that troubled area. Then you can go about your day while icing that pain in your… knee.


Awesome Deals:

Altra uses the best materials in their wide toe box shoes with zero heel drop.  These are some of the most comfortable around.  Altra made these shoes light weight, responsive, and flexible.  The Instinct 2.0 weighs 9.5 ounces and the Intuition 2.0 weighs 8.1 ounces.  They came out with the Instinct/Intuition 3.0 so you can get a killer deal on a pair of the Instinct/Intuition 2.0’s.  Get them while they last.


If you are a new runner or have been around the block a few times, you probably know that running brings out some smells that you never thought would come out of your body.  That leads to stinky clothes.  The good news is that Sport Suds can keep your clothes smelling and looking like new.  They have a variety of sizes to choose from as well as a washing machine cleaner.

Runner’s World magazine has great articles on how to improve your form, exercises, and nutrition that can be vital for newer runners. You also look at all of those runners that have 2% body fat and use it for motivation on your next diet. Runner’s World magazine has been around since the 1960’s so you know there is a lot of knowledge there.


Find a professional running coach who can help you to improve your form, becoming faster, or reach your goals. Go to the CoachUp website, answer a few questions and they will provide you with running coaches in your area. There are various prices based on the coach you pick. Become a stronger runner with help from a professional, not your friend Bob who keeps tripping over his own feet.

Friday, November 20, 2015

2XU 24/7 Recovery Sock Review


2XU was founded in 2005 out of Melbourne, Australia.  2XU stands for “Two Times You” which symbolizes the multiplication of human performance.  They offer an extensive line of sports clothing for people out on the road, in the water, on the snow, or in the gym.  They offer compression gear, socks, hats, wetsuits, and much more.  2XU’s gear has been worn by some of the best athletes in the world. 

I have tested the 2XU GHST tech tee and it is my favorite shirt.  You can see my review by clicking here.  After a long run or a hard workout, it is important to recovery quickly so you can get back out there for your next workout.  That is where I really enjoyed the 2XU 24/7 recovery sock.  The 24/7 sock is made with graduated compression and a mixture of cotton and Coolmax yarns for all day comfort.  The Coolmax yarns help wick away moisture.  One of the reasons why the 24/7 sock is so comfortable is that you get extra padding under the ball of your foot and heel.  That way, if you have to stand all day or walk a lot after a hard workout, your feet are protected more than many of the recovery socks out there that are too thin, in my opinion.

The true benefit of wearing compression socks is that it improves circulation that can cause swelling and fatigue.  Not only are these good for recovering after a run, but they are ideal for times when you have to sit or stand for extended amounts of time.  These are typically times when you have a decrease in circulation. 

Pros:
All day comfort
Extra cushion under ball of foot and heel
Graduated Compression

Cons:
A tad bit pricey at $44.95 (but the benefits are priceless)
 
2XU Social Media Links:

I have been told by several long time runners that it is way more important to recover smart than train harder.  If you train really hard and don’t allow adequate time to recovery, many of your gains will be wasted.  The 2XU 24/7 sock is a great product that can aid in your recovery.  By having a solid recovery plan that includes stretching, foam rolling, and wearing compression gear, you will be breaking PR’s before you know it.  You can purchase your 24/7 recovery socks at the 2XU website, Amazon, or at your local retailer (click here forlocations).

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, November 18, 2015

Sport Suds Review



If you are a new runner or have been around the block a few times, you probably know that running brings out some smells that you never thought would come out of your body.  I have been cycling and working out at the gym for over a decade and my clothes have never smelled like they do after a run.  My wife and I call it the homeless smell.  

The smell doesn’t actually come from the sweat itself but from the bacterium that breaks down the sweat (a process called bromhidrosis).  Performance or technical running gear is made to wick moisture and dry quickly, but those same properties trap the oils and bacteria that smell so bad.  Cotton tends to not trap those oils as easily, but is terrible at moisture wicking and breathability. 

I used to just wash my running gear with my normal laundry.  The problem is that most detergents don’t remove the oils and bacteria that care causing the smells.  These oils reduce the effectiveness of your expensive running clothes. 

Sport Suds is a high-performance cleaning product that is made to bring your running gear back from the dead, or keep them looking and smelling new.  All Sport Suds products are sustainably sourced from natural reoccurring sources.  Not only that, but they are also readily biodegradable, non-toxic, and are septic and grew water safe.  Most laundry detergents cannot make that claim.  Because of the care put into their products, Sport Suds is hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, and is never tested on animals.

Sport Suds is based in the town of Milton in Ontario, Canada.  Their sport detergent is manufactured in both the US and Canada.  Sport Suds stocks their detergent in warehouses in both the US and Canada so you can get your products quickly.

So, SportSuds sounds good on paper, but how does it hold up to my real world testing?  With my marathon training in full effect, my clothes have been downright unbearable.  I couldn’t stand to smell my clothes, which meant that Sport Suds was going to be put to the ultimate test.  I used Sport Suds Washing Machine Cleaner first to make sure my machine was clean (more on that in a second).  Then I ran my first load of clothes using Sport Suds.  My clothes came out with no odor and they looked cleaner than they have in months.  I was thoroughly impressed.  These results were replicated load after load. 

You will want to follow the instructions in the Sport Suds website before washing your clothes in Sport Suds.  If you have been using regular detergents, they can leave behind a residue, which Sport Suds will remove from your washing machine drum.  You don’t want that residue to end up on your cloths though.  Click here for instructions on how to use Sport Suds for the first time.  You can either run a few cycles with your Sport Suds detergent and old towels or use Sport Suds Washing Machine Cleaner.
 
Pros:
Environmentally friendly
Inexpensive (starting around $20)
Cleans difficult stains and removes odors with ease
Septic and grey water safe
Fast shipping

Cons:
You can’t throw your old clothes away from being too smelly so you can get a new ones

Sport Suds Social Media Links

I wash all of my clothes with Sport Suds now and can’t believe that I can get a 140 load tub for $59.95.  That will last me over 2.5 years if I only used it for my running clothes or over a year if I wash all of my family’s laundry with it.  You can’t beat that deal.  There are several sizes to choose from and there are packages that comes with detergent (40 loads) and washing machine cleaner (5 pack) for $31.90 on the Sport Suds website.   Sport Suds is the best sport detergent that I have tested.  You can get yours at the Sport Suds Website or at Amazon. I felt like it left my clothes cleaner, smelling fresher, and you get a great value.  I wasn’t disappointed and you won’t be either.

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, November 13, 2015

Brooks Glycerin 13 Review

I got a pair of Brooks Glycerin 11’s a few years back.  At the time, I was mostly running in Mizuno shoes.  My big toes would rub the inside of the Glycerin 11’s so I sold them to a friend.  Flash forward to the present.  I have been trying to get a pair of Brooks for quite a while and finally got a pair of the Glycerin 13’s to test out.  I have read great things about these shoes including the fact that they won Runner’s World’s Best Update Award for 2015. 

Brooks is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.  Maybe that is why they are so awesome (I grew up in Eastern Washington so maybe I am a little biased).  Brooks motto is to “Run Happy” but they also try to “Live Green.” Their new headquarters building is right near the water and just across the street is a trailhead that leads to nearly 30 miles of trails to run on.  How awesome would it be to work there?  They invite the public to come in if they are ever in the Seattle area for a free treadmill gait analysis and to check out all of the latest Brooks running gear and apparel. 

When I got the Glycerin 13, I was concerned with the sizing because I didn’t want to have rubbing issues with my big toe again.  Brooks made changes to the shape of the shoe that eliminated my concern.  The materials and construction seem to be much better than the Glycerin 11.  I was really impressed and I hadn’t even gone out the front door yet.

Some of the features that Brooks put into the Glycerin 13 include 3D Fit Print, which is a revolutionary process that uses a screen-print technology to apply the structural material to the upper part of the shoe.  It is lighter weight than other upper materials and provides extra flexibility. 

Another feature is the segmented crash pad.  These are the shock absorbers in the shoe and each one is separated so you get a smooth heel-to-toe transition.  It was almost effortless to run in the Glycerin 13’s, even though it weighs more than most of the shoes that I am used to running in (at 11.3 ounces).

There is a rounded heel that aligns the force of a heel impact with the center of your ankle joint to reduce the stress on your body.

Brooks also put their Super DNA midsole material in the Glycerin 13.  The Super DNA material provides increased cushioning while giving you a great amount of energy return and support with each stride.  I really liked the feel of the cushion.  It provided plenty of cushion, but did not feel squishy, which often times takes energy out of your stride. 

Pros:
Very comfortable
Tons of cushion but not squishy
Extremely durable
Looks awesome
90 Day Trial at Brooks.com (Free Returns)

Cons:
A little on the heavier side at 11.3 ounces

Brooks Social Media Links

For me, the best part about the Glycerin 13’s is that they just felt awesome from the first time I put my feet in them.  I would not use the Glycerin 13 as a speed shoe because of the weight, but they are a great everyday trainer or long distance shoe.  At $150 (at the Brooks website) or as low as $130 on Amazon these are a great value that should last quite a while.  There is no doubt why Runner’s World named them the “Best Update.”  Click here to find a local Brooks retailer.

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, November 11, 2015

Swiftwick Pursuit and Vibe Socks Review


I have been running in Swiftwick socks since April of this year.  Swiftwick claims, “We make the best socks you will ever wear…GUARANTEED!”  I thought to myself, that is a very bold statement.  After testing out the Aspire socks, I was a believer in what Swiftwick was claiming. (Click here for my past review of the Aspire)

I received a pair of the Pursuit One and Pursuit Five.  The number references the height of the sock.  I also received a pair of the Vibe One.  The sizes range from a Zero, which is below the ankle to a Twelve, which is over the calf. 

The Pursuit is made out of Merino wool.  I don’t know what I like the most about Merino wool, but I can’t get enough of products made with that magical material.  It wicks really well, doesn’t trap in odors, and is extremely comfortable. 

The Vibe is a great sock.  It has a thicker foot bed than the Aspire and is really comfortable.  It feels great and has wonderful moisture wicking.

Pros:
Very comfortable
Hot spot and blister free
Extremely durable
Made in the USA
Best guarantee in the business

Cons:
A tad pricey starting at $12.99 for the Vibe and $15.99 for the Pursuit

I am a believer in Swiftwick socks, without a doubt.  While they might be a little pricey, they are extremely durable and will last for quite a while (longer than cheaper socks).  They are made in the USA and use the best materials and technologies available to create a superior product.  It is worth spending a few extra dollars to get such a great product. 

Give them a try and let me know what you think.  What do you have to lose?  If you don’t like them, Swiftwick will buy you a pair of your favorite socks as a replacement.  You can buy them starting at $12.99 for the Vibe and $15.99 for the Pursuit.  They also have various other sizes and several colors to choose from.  Go to Swiftwick or Amazon to get yours today.

Swiftwick's Social Media Links

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, November 6, 2015

Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Review

Altra is one of my favorite shoe brands.  It is not just because they put out great shoes, but they think it is really important to educate their customers on the proper running form and the benefits you may get from running in a zero drop or wide toe box shoe.  My first pair of Altra’s were the Instinct 2’s.  I instantly fell in love with them.  They had the wide toe box, zero drop design, and plenty of cushioning, all of which Altra is known for.  You can find the Instinct 2 on sale for around $50 while they are trying to clear them out.  Click here to get yours today.  I have also tested the Altra Paradigm, Instinct 3, and The One 2.5’s. 

Here are links to my previous reviews:

I have not had a chance to test out a pair of trail shoes from Altra, until now.  I have wanted a pair for quite a while and was thrilled when Altra sent me the Lone Peak 2.5 to test.  I have been so impressed with the other shoes I have tested from Altra that I was sure that the Lone Peak 2.5’s would be great as well.
The Lone Peak 2.5 features a midsole that is made up of Altra’s Dual Layer EVA with an A-Bound top layer.  A-Bound is a responsive cushioning that protects your feet as your foot impacts the ground and then rebounds to add spring to each step.  The Lone Peak 2.5 also has a StoneGuard rock plate to make sure you don’t bruise your arches when going over rocks.

The outsole is what really makes this an awesome shoe.  It comes with Altra’s Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw.  As you can see in the picture, the lugs really can dig into the trail or mud to give you a real sense of confidence.  I ran in mud, on single-track trails, gravel fire roads, and up rock outcroppings.  I never felt like I was going to lose traction.

The upper material is made of Altra’s Quick-Dry Trail Mesh.  It allows your feet to remain cool and dry.  Another awesome feature of this shoe is the Gaiter Trap.  A hook and look tab allows for a strapless gaiter made by Altra to be used with this shoe.  It is sold separately and is used to help keep rocks and debris from getting in your shoe.  Nothing sucks more than getting a little rock in your shoe and having to stop to get it out.




Pros:

Very comfortable
Zero heel drop
Wide toe box
Very light - 10.6 ounces
Plenty of cushion
Great price ($120 at Altra.com)

Altra’s Social Media Links

I am extremely impressed with the Lone Peak 2.5.  It is a solid shoe all around.  It really made my trail running more enjoyable because I never had to worry about slipping.  The Lone Peak 2.5 can be purchased for $120 at Altra.com, at your local running store, or at your favorite online retailer.  If you like trail running, do yourself a favor and pick up the Lone Peak 2.5 today.  Your feet will thank you for it.  Altra also has a waterproof version called the Lone Peak NeoShell and it costs $140.  The Lone Peak NeoShell was named the “Best Waterproof Shoe” by Competitor Magazine in October, 2015.

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, November 4, 2015

IonLoop Dual Cord Bracelet and LEDX Slap Band Review



I did a review of IonLoop’s bracelets a while back and got to test out some new products that they just released (click here for my previous review).  There are tons of companies out there that offer wrist bands with holograms, negative ion technology, and magnet technology.  Some people don’t believe in these technologies.  It is up to each individual to decide if this product would work, but I feel that there is a difference.  My past review discusses the benefits of these technologies.    
 
I got to test out the Dual Cord bracelet.  It has two nylon cords that are loaded with negative ions and two powerful magnets.  There is a leather loop and a metal hook.  I really like the look and feel of this bracelet.  There are several sizes to choose from so you can pick the size that will fit you best.   

One thing that is great about the Dual Cord bracelet is that it is extremely durable.  You can wear it in the shower, pool, or even the ocean.  If you do take it in the ocean, it is suggested to rinse the bracelet off in fresh water afterward.  The Dual Cord bracelet is extremely comfortable and costs $45 with free shipping.  You can purchase your Dual Cord bracelet by clicking here.

IonLoop also sent me anther product from their sister company, LEDx, that takes me back to my childhood.  It is their LED Slap Band.  Do you remember the slap bracelets from when you were a kid?  These is just like you remember, except they light up.  You can either have a solid or flashing light.  They come in Pink, Yellow, Red, or Yellow with an Adidas symbol on it.  You can purchase a single band for $13 or a pair for $20.  Shipping is free in the Unites States as well.  One thing I like that is great about these bands is that you can be seen from over 1,000 feet away and the battery is replaceable.  You can purchase your slap bands by clicking here.

IonLoop’s Social Media Links:




I really like my IonLoop bracelets.  They have several versions including ones for runners that have 5K, 13.1, and 26.2 printed on them.  They have many 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.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

* 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.