Thursday, March 30, 2017

Night Runner Pro on Kickstarter

Running safety should be a priority for every runner.  You should protect yourself from vehicles, predators, and animals.  One way to do that is to make sure that you are visible and that you can see what’s in front of you. 

The proper way to run on a road is against traffic.  I run in marked bike lanes and I make sure I am aware of the cars as they approach me.  With more distracted drivers than ever, it is great to see products that can not only help you see obstacles, but also alert drivers that you are running on the shoulder.  I have tried headlamps, which are great, but are usually uncomfortable.  I have tried flashing LED lights and light vests, which are great, but they don’t light your path. 

I reviewed the Night Runner 270 a while back (click here for the review).  The Night Runner 270 is a set of lightweight LED light that slides onto your shoe laces (one per shoe).  There are forward facing LED lights that produce 150 Lumens of light.  That equates to about 30 feet of visibility with 270 degrees of lighting.    There is a rear facing red light that will let people of vehicles behind you know that you are there.  You get a pair of the lights and a charging cable in a well-designed box.

The Night Runner 270’s have Li-ion rechargeable batteries that are easy to charge through a micro USB charging port.  You get 4 hours of use out of each charge, which will meet almost any runner’s needs.  Another great feature of the Night Runner 270 is that they are water resistant and have a high-impact casing that will ensure that the lights will last for quite a while.  The Night Runner 270 was featured on The Shark Tank, has been endorsed by over 80 national media outlets, and was selected as one of the top 8 Mother’s Day gifts for 2016 for busy moms by Fox News.

Night Runner is coming out with another version of the product, the Night Runner Pro.  It is still rechargeable, but now has 300 lumen LED lights (twice the strength of the Night Runner 270). It still has the bi-lateral winged design to over 270 degrees of visibility and two rear-facing red tail lights.  The removable Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries provide up to 10 hours on a single charge.  Another cool feature is that the Night Runner Pro will be the first lights in the industry to provide a visual performance feedback through flash alerts on your Bluetooth/smartphone.  Check out this video of the all new Night Runner Pro.

Night Runner 270’s Social Media Links:

The Night Runner 270 is a great product that can help keep you safe while running in low-light situations.  The Night Runner Pro seems like it is taking one of my favorite low-light running tools and taking it to the next level.  It is currently at 53.4% of its $25,000 goal on Kickstarter.  You can get a Night Runner Pro (to be delivered in December 2017) for $55, which is $34.99 off the MSRP.  You can also choose to pay $85 and you will get a pair of the Night Runner 270 now and the Night Runner Pro in December.  That is a $146.98 value.  Not too shabby.  Give it a try and see what you have been missing.

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

IonLoop Mag360 Necklace Review

I have reviewed a few of IonLoop’s bracelets in the past (previous reviews: IonLoop bracelet and Ionloop Dual Cord bracelet).  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 reviews, I discussed the benefits of these technologies but if you missed it, here it is again.

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.  Ion Loop 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 are present.

I have tried PowerBalance bands (remember those) as well as some other company’s bands.  I bought some on Amazon and they turned out to be fakes.  I have been extremely pleased with the products from IonLoop in the past.      

I finally wore my original IonLoop after 2 years (it actually still is in good shape, but I needed a change).  I decided to test out the Mag360 Necklace.  It is made up of a 19” cord of a continuous flexible magnetic material that will remain effective for years.  There is a clasp on the back that clicks into place easily and will not open by accident.

The 360-degree loop is waterproof and has been designed to emit the maximal amount of magnetic power possible.  It comes with little rubber wheels that you can choose to put on the necklace if you want.  You can get different colored wheels to customize your necklace.

I really like the Mag360 Necklace and it is extremely comfortable.  I feel the effects just like I did with their bracelets.  It is really up to each individual, but I feel like it works for me.  My one minor issue with this necklace is that the colored wheels tend to move around so I had to readjust them a few times per day.  Not a big deal though.  You can get the MG for $42 on the IonLoop website.

Each necklace comes with a 1-year guarantee to be free of manufacturing defects.  If you have an issue, they will offer a replacement at no cost (no questions asked).

Magnet and negative ion technology may have health benefits
Looks great
Decent price ($42)
Great warranty

IonLoop’s Social Media Links:

I really like my IonLoop bracelets and necklace.  The Mag360 Necklace is no different.  They have many different bracelets with several colors options, a braided bracelet, watches and more.  You can go to to check out their extensive selection.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

* Ion Loop 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.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Guest Blog Post: Relax, reduce injuries and boost performance

Today I bring you a guest blog post from Alexandra Merisoiu.  Alexandra, The Body Engineer, is the Founder of The Merisoiu Technique - Institute Of Health And Human Movement and Dracula’s Retreat. She is also a qualified Low Back Pain Management and Prevention Exercise and REPS registered instructor.

A distance runner herself since 2007, Alexandra specializes in working with runners, beginners and advanced, who want to run faster, further, with less effort and fewer injuries. This is done through natural movement fitness and running technique and mechanics.

Since 1995 she has explored how the body and mind works. She has done this through using many different sporting techniques and working with a wide variety of highly respected coaches. She is a  3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate Shotokan, WMO Martial Arts British National Champion, has been ranked 1st in the WMO BRITISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, 2nd and 3rd at WORLD KARATE CHAMPIONSHIP, 2 times NATIONAL KARATE CHAMPION, WORLD CUP CHAMPION. She still competes at an international level. Her Martial Arts, Pose Method and natural running practice inspires and shapes the running style she teaches.

Injury is the natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force – Tai Chi Philosophy

Being a lifelong practitioner of Martial Arts, particularly Shotokan Karate, as well as a runner this phrase always makes me wonder why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we use strength? Why do we push, pull and use force in almost everything we do?

This is generally how we move, run, walk, lift and use our bodies daily in today’s society: using force and strength.

Think about it:

1) When you lift a grocery bag (heavy or not), do you jerk it up to lift it? Or do you lift it slowly and smoothly positioning yourself into a good squat, lifting with your legs and core muscles? Have you actually thought about that? 

2) When you run up a hill do you force yourself to step as far forward as possible just to get those extra centimeters and get up that hill as soon as possible?

3) When you sprint do you push against the ground to leap forward and take big steps/strides attempting to cover as much distance as possible? Or do you use your body weight and gravity to effortlessly negotiate that steep hill?

4) When you stand from a sitting position is it a smooth transition or a fast, sudden movement?

5) When you walk up a flight of stairs do you push yourself using your back leg? Or do you transfer your body weight onto your front leg and then just lift the back leg rather than pushing off?)

That doesn’t mean you have to monitor all your movements from now on, although you could. What I’m trying to point is the fact that, throughout our daily routines, most of the time, we are tensed, closed up, using power, strength and jerky movements. Yes or no? Leave a comment below.

Internal Martial Arts, such as Tai Chi, focus on strong core in a soft wrapping. Much like a sword – the core strength, wrapped in cotton – the exterior of your body which should be relaxed. Your power doesn’t come from your arms and legs, from pushing and over striding. Your power comes from your core....that’s why it’s called a “core”.

Another metaphor would be hitting a rock with another rock. One of the rocks will break, or chip, if not immediately, it will over time. If you hit the rock with a napkin, the napkin will just smoothly wrap around the rock, it will not break. When you run and hit the ground with a stiff, solid body, I guarantee it’s not the ground that’ll chip and break, it’s your joints and bones!

As runners, repeating the same movement, over and over again, this concept is critical. Why? Because injury happens when brute force – your muscle power, pounding and jerky movements, meets brute force – the ground, which is a solid surface. Doing that hundreds of thousands of times over several years, if you are a regular runner, is a great recipe for structural injury.

Furthermore, when you pound against the ground with force the ground will respond with an equal and opposite (as in direction) reaction - force. Newton’s 3rd law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The reverse is also true. Relax your body, allow it to absorb the impact through your body’s natural suspensions (muscles, joints, ligaments), meet the ground with softness and the ground will respond with an equal reaction.

Thus by using tension and muscle power:

- You meet the solid ground with a solid body – injury

- The solid ground will respond with an equal and opposite reaction to your action; the questions is “what type of action will YOU send out?”

- You muscles will burn out sooner – not achieving your speed or distance goals

- Muscles are tensed and will not allow Oxygen to seep through and feed your muscles with new energy. Danny Dreyer (Chi Running) compares this with pouring syrup over pancakes vs a bagel. In the first case the syrup easily seeps through the spongy pancakes. In the second case it’s more difficult as the density of the bagel is higher and less permeable. When your body is tensed you are a bagel, when it’s relaxed you are spongy like pancakes, and the syrup (oxygen) can reach the deep fibres of your muscles.

- You restrict your breathing. It is very common to curl forward and close up our chest, especially when running uphill. We somehow think that will get us up that hill easier. It’s quite the contrary. You close up your chest, your lungs, you tense the muscles around your chest, you restrict your breathing and oxygen intake, then things just get more and more difficult, don’t they?

- You will slow down. Tension will slow you down.

When you relax:

- You meet the solid ground with a soft body, using your natural suspensions to absorb the impact – reduce risk of injuries

- The ground will respond with the same level of reduced tension. 

- It will take longer for your muscles to fatigue because... allow the oxygen to reach the muscles fibres

- You can keep your posture and body alignment and so you can breathe correctly and ensure a good supply of oxygen, which is the food for your muscles. Nutrition as well of course, but without oxygen you won’t get anywhere.

- You will speed up

- You will be able to keep your pace for longer)

If you practiced martial arts and you were taught how to fall, you know that you never break your fall by placing your leg under the body, or landing on your hand or elbow. Do that on hard surface and you break your leg, wrist or elbow. Instead you allow your body to relax and curl into a ball, smoothly rolling around without pain, even on solid pavement. Once you understand the movement, you can roll painlessly on any surface, that’s the point of educated falling after all.  

As with a martial arts roll practice is key. Practice relaxation throughout your daily activities and throughout your training and, in time, you will get better and better at it.

Thus, if you want to reduce the risk of injuries, speed up and run for longer, first you need to learn to relax. Both Chi Running and Pose Method have this in common. So does any form of Martial Art, although the principle of relaxation is not being taught everywhere and by every instructor.

When you relax, your structure, with all its elements, can do its job better because there is less restriction. I’m not saying you will never get tired, but it will take longer to get tired.

Once I understood this concept, my running (and my Martial Arts) performance changed, for the better. I can now run up steep hills while relaxing my legs. Whenever running gets difficult, I look at my posture and start to reduce tension in the muscles, starting with my shoulders. Then I go back to a more relaxed running and make it up the hill easier.

I’m putting together a running technique course, based on Pose Method and Chi Running elements, with drills what’ll help you get a better understanding and practice of relaxation, among other running drills and elements, to improve your performance and reduce injuries. Just email and I will send you the link.

The ideas that Alexandra shares in her blog post are expressed by many of the top run coaches across the world.  The idea of letting your legs act like shock absorbers can make a huge difference in your running.  Please take a second to follow Alexandra on social media and at her website if you get a chance.   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Underwater Audio SYRYN Mp3 + Swimbuds SPORT Review

I don’t know about you, but I get so bored when I swim laps.  My brain seems to run on overdrive, thinking about the most random things or continually counting laps.  It really makes a one hour swim hard to take at times.  I ran across Underwater Audio on Facebook and loved the idea of listing to music while swimming.  There are studies that show that listening to music while swimming laps has some serious benefits, but more on that later.

Underwater Audio was started when the founders started to look for a music player that was waterproof.  There were several proprietary mp3 players on the market, but one of the founders loved the idea of using one of Apple’s products because it would give him access to his music library.  There were other companies that waterproofed iPods, but as an engineer, he was concerned with the process the other companies used in the waterproofing process.  He researched the amount of people who returned their units to these other companies because of leaking, so he decided to make a better project.  What are the benefits of swimming with music though?

I recently ran across an article “5 Reasons Swimmers Should Listen to Music During Practice” by Bri Groves, a Swimming World College Intern.  Bri stated some of the benefits of swimming with music. (1)

1) Upbeat melodies can increase motivation – That doesn’t mean that you should listen to any music, but shoot for songs that range with a BPM (beats per minute) of 125 to 140.  You can find the BPM for a song by doing a google search. (1)
2) In several studies (2), scientists concluded that as the BPM’s of music increased, the power output of the athletes’ increased as well.  This could result in a greater distance per stroke in swimmers.  (1)
3) As you swim in sync with the rhythm or beat of the music, your stroke rate will increase as you listen to faster music. (1)
4) In another study (3), they concluded that athletes who listen to music while exercising had a lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) than athletes who worked out in silence.  Basically, it states that music is a subconscious motivator and stress reducer. (1)
5) Athletes who train with music regularly had 15% more endurance than athletes that don’t listen to music.  More endurance leads to a more sustained competition performance. (1)

I tested the SYRYN mp3 bundle with Swimbuds SPORT headphones.  The unit was waterproofed by Underwater Audio and comes with a ton of extras. 

The SYRYN is an 8GB mp3 player that is extremely simple to use and is relatively compact.  It has one port for the headphones (standard headphone jack) and three buttons.  There are back/volume down, play/pause, and a forward/volume up buttons.  The unit is easy to use.  To turn it on, simple hold the play button for a few seconds.  To skip to the next song, touch the forward button once or to turn up the volume, hold the forward button down.  The same process is followed for going to a previous song or turning the volume down, by using the back button.  The player also has a shuffle option to mix up your playlist.  The SYRYN is built to withstand submersion of up to 10 feet of water and meets IPX-8 standards.

The headphone jack also is where you charge the unit, which only takes about an hour to fully charge.  You also connect the USB to headphone cord here to download your mp3s from your computer.  Simply drop them on the device like it is a flash drive. 

You also get the Underwater Audio Swimbuds SPORT headphones.  They create the perfect waterproof seal while you swim.  I have been using ear plugs for the past year while swimming because I don’t like water in my ears after I swim.  The Swimbuds SPORT headphones do a great job of keeping the water out.  You get several different types of earbuds. 

Trees: Creates maximum noise isolation and the best water seal.
Fins: Work with the widest range of ear sizes and creates a watertight seal.
Ergos: Ergonomically designed with a comfortable fit for many sports.
Rounds: For everyday use.

I like the trees the best.  I have never had an issue with them falling out or letting water in.  There is a short cord which works well in the pool, since you clip the SYRYN on the back of your goggle straps.  There is also an extension cord if you want the player near your waist.

All products are covered by a warrantee of 2-years from the date of purchase and will be repaired or replaced.  They have a 5-day turnaround so you aren’t without your music for months like some other companies out there.   Click here for more warrantee information.

Completely waterproof (to 10 feet, IPX-8 standards)
Provides music without water in ears
Great price (starting at $65.95 with free shipping)
Great 2-year warrantee
May improve performance and fights boredom

Underwater Audio’s Social Media Links:

I love everything about the SYRYN and Swimbuds SPORT headphones.  They have changed my swimming for the better.  Not only am I not bored anymore, but I have seen my lap times drop.  The best part of this bundle is that you can get it for $89.95 on Amazon and if you are a Prime member, you get free same-day shipping.  They also have the SYRYN with the original Swimbuds for $59.95. How about that!  You can have it for your swim tomorrow (if you order by noon).  Underwater Audio has a wide variety of waterproof headphones and also has an iPod Shuffle version on their website starting at $185.00. 

There is a Delphin version that is like a miniature Android tablet on Kickstarter that will allow you to connect to your Pandora and other apps, without your phone.   The Delphin is $180 on Kickstarter and is scheduled for release in July of this year.  I can’t wait for this to come out.  Change your swimming and grab your mp3 player from Underwater Audio today.  If you do, please drop me a line 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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Atc’teryx Review

If you are like me, you may not have heard of Arc’teryx before.  They are an outdoor clothing company based out of North Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.  Their name and logo refers to the Archaeopteryx Lithographica, which is the first reptile to develop the feather for flight (something to bring up at your next trivia night).  Their parent corporation is the Salomon Group, which has built up quite the following in the outdoor sports world.  The company was founded in 1989 by local climbers whose goals were to create equipment that enables a person to be immersed in the moment no matter what the conditions are.  Arc’teryx also believes highly in environmental stewardship, responsible manufacturing, and community engagement.  I recently tested three products including the Norvan jacket, Trino tights, and the Calvus visor.

Norvan Jacket

I have tested waterproof jackets from Salomon, Outdoor Research, and Ultimate Direction in the past.  A friend of mine just got the Norvan jacket from Arc’teryx and I really liked the way it looked and felt.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to test it out.  The first thing I realized when I first got it was how well it was constructed.  All of the seams were well taped and the 3-layer GORE-TEX® felt extremely comfortable.  You didn’t get that stiff feeling that the older GORE-TEX® coats had.  

Arc’teryx describes the Norvan jacket as an “Ultra minimalist waterproof breathable GORE-TEX® protection for high output activities in wet, windy weather.”  It weighs a mere 7.6 ounces and has a trim fit.  There are three color options, Adriatic Blue, Black, and Vermillion (Reddish Orange).  It’s made to keep out the wind and moisture while still remaining breathable.  

The Norvan jacket uses the patent-pending 3-layer GORE-TEX® fabric with GORE® C-Knit backer technology.  You get all the protection, with plenty of comfort.  There are two layers of GORE-TEX®  that are bonded to a dense, extremely thin circular knit layer to make a less bulky jacket that is not only comfortable, but slides easily on and off over other clothing layers.  

This jacket was designed with performance in mind.  The hood is fitted to provide protection and has an elasticized brim for extra protection.  There are air vents that pull air through openings under the arms and provide constant air flow, reducing heat buildup in the jacket while you are running. 

The WaterTightTM front zipper has a quiet, soft pull that is easy to operate.  There is also an internal waterproof pocket that is laminated and has a port for your headphone cord.  That way you can keep your phone or MP3 player in the pocket and run the cable out without subjecting your device to water damage. 

The arm cuffs and bottom hem are elasticized to keep the jacket in place.  The arms are shaped, which is great since you don’t run with straight arms and there is extra coverage to keep rain off of your hands.  There are several reflective logos and stripes on the jacket as well to make sure you are seen in low-light situations. 

The Norvan jacket is easily cleaned in the washing machine (warm water and double rinsed).  As with almost all athletic gear, do not use fabric softeners and remove them from the washer immediately. 
You can tumble dry the jacket on medium heat. 

In my test runs, it was pouring non-stop and none of the rain made it in the jacket.  The vents worked fairly well and I did not overheat.  With any waterproof jacket, you will sweat more than with a water resistant jacket, but you won’t get drenched by the rain.  It does a great job and I really like the fit as well as functionality of the jacket.  The hood was perfect and really stayed in place, which has been a problem with some of my water resistant jackets in the past.  I also like not having to worry if my phone will be damaged from the rain, thanks to the waterproof interior pocket.  All in all, this is an excellent jacket.

The Norvan jacket is available at the Arc’teryx website for $349.00, which includes free shipping.   I have seen the same jacket at REI for around $245 and at there are a few places online under $200.  It’s a jacket that truly protects you while keeping you feeling comfortable.  While the price tag is up there, the quality is amazing and should last for a very long time as long as you follow the care directions.  This would fall into the “you get what you pay for” category.

Excellent waterproof jacket
Elastic hem and sleeves keep the jacket in place
Under arm vents keep you cooler
Waterproof interior pocket
Great hood
Ultralight (7.6 ounces) and packable

On the pricey side at $349 MSRP (can be found cheaper though)

Trino Tights

The Trino tights are made with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® and is made for training in windy, cool and damp conditions.  They will help you in your fast-paced adventures whether you are on the road or trails. 

These tights combine the protection of GORE® WINDSTOPPER® with the air permeable stretch performance of AtreusTM.  They put the GORE® WINDSTOPPER® on the front of the tights to focus on wind proofing and water resistance.  The back of the tights have the AtreusTM to improve temperature regulation and provide a great fit. 

There is a 9” zipper at the bottom of each leg with gusseted fabric inside to make the lower legs tighter (more like a tight than a pant) while still being easy to take on and off.

There are two small hip pockets for gels or keys as well.  And the tights are designed with articulated legs so they fit and move better with you during your entire gait cycle. 

I was extremely pleased with the comfort and functionality of the Trino tights.  They do an awesome job of keeping the wind and moisture out.  There were 15-20 mile an hour winds, and I couldn’t even feel it on my legs.  Even with the extreme rain, my legs stayed almost completely dry, which I didn’t really expect. 

The Trino tights are available at the Arc’teryx website for $149.00, which includes free shipping.   I have seen them at REI for around $100 which is a great price for windproof/water resistant tights.  Just like the Norvan jacket, the quality is amazing and should last for a very long time as long as you follow the care directions. 

Windproof/Water Resistant
Great fit
Zippered/gusseted legs
Two small hip pockets
Great price $149.00 MSRP (around $100 at REI

Calvus Visor

My friend asked me “A visor is just a visor right?”  I’ve noticed that certain visors have better fit and functionality than other visors.  The Calvus visor is a lightweight technical visor that not only protects you from the sun, but does an awesome job at wicking moisture away. 

The brim is made of a foam insert to hold its shape without adding weight or bulk.  The fabric is made with SocoraTM polyester and is light and air permeable.  Weighing in at only 1.2 ounces, it has a barely there feel.  The SpacermeshTM band wicks moisture away quickly too. 

The elasticized rear headband provides a secure fit and there is a reflective logo on the side for low-light situations.  I love the fit and feel of the Calvus visor.  It performs well too and it has become my favorite visor.  The price tag is great at $29.00 on the Arc’teryx website which is the same price everywhere else online.

Great fit
Excellent moisture wicking
Archaeopteryx Lithographica Fossil
Reflective logo
Light weight
Great price at $29.00

The Arc’teryx Social Media Links:

Arc’teryx makes some amazing products.  While some of their products have a higher price tag, I think they are worth the extra money.  I am a strong believer that paying a few extra dollars on a product that will make your hours of running more enjoyable is more than worth it, especially if the gear lasts for quite a while.  I love my Arc’teryx gear and highly recommend it.  If you have tried any of their gear out, drop me a line 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.