Disclaimer: I received a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost X shoes as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
As all runners in training know, logging more miles means going through more shoes, so I was more than happy to test these new shoes from Adidas! I was a little skeptical about going back to a shoe with a higher drop (10 mm), but figured it was worth a try as the promised "ultra-cushioned boost" and "extra ordinary grip in wet and dry conditions" sounded good to me after having run in minimalist shoes that didn't have much grip in the rain. (And I seem to have a talent for picking road races in the rain...)
Unboxing the shoes was a surprise. I expected "regular" running shoes, but the Adidas UltraBOOST X is clearly different "out of the box". It's hard to describe if you've never seen a shoe like this before, but the fabric of the shoe is more like a sock. It wraps around your foot, leaving a gap between your arch and the footbed—you can literally see through the arch of the shoe. You can catch a glimpse of it in this short running shoe unboxing video in my Instagram feed.
On feel: These are quite a bit different than any other shoe I've tried! Again I find it hard to describe, but it feels a bit like my heel is in a cup. Not good or bad—just different. The shoe also gives me the sensation of falling forward when walking, though not so much when running. I imagine it's nudging me toward better running form and that beautiful forward lean that all of the fast kids have, and that could only be a good thing, right? ;-)
On fit: Another unique thing about these shoes is the fit of the "sock" around your foot. It really is like a sock as the laces only adjust the fit around your arch and the sock hugs around your foot vs. the laces making the closure. A heads on up socks: to comfortably wear these shoes I needed to get new socks. Typical low-cut athletic socks hit below the "sock" of the shoe, causing uncomfortable rubbing on the heel. I picked up some low crew cut Balega socks at the local running store, and they're perfect—just high enough to provide protection from the seam on the heel of the shoe.
On sizing: It seems a little tricky to me on these shoes, but I bet part of that is due to the way my very narrow feet fit in a shoe like this which is meant to hug the foot. The initial pair I ordered was my typical running shoe size (8), but I wound up going a 1/2 size down and still debate whether I could possibly go down one more half size. TIP: We worked with Dick's Sporting Goods on this promotion, and they do offer free shipping both ways on shoes. If you're on the fence, you might just want to order a couple pairs and keep the one that works. (Dick's also offers some pretty good coupons and discounts if you sign up for their points program—I've long been a member with 2 kids in soccer...)
Overall, while the very different feel of this shoe has been slow to grow on me, I like them more every time I wear them. The cushioned ride is a welcome relief, and feels like I'm easing the stress of all of the training miles when I'm wearing them. Thumbs up!
Disclaimer: I received Beachbody Performance to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
I'm in the market for new triathlon nutrition options, and Beach Body walked in at just the right time. Last triathlon season I used Ironman Perform, and either a) I didn’t get how to use it or b) it just plain didn’t work for me or c) some combination of both… By the end of the season my GI system was in full revolt. Time for a change!
I do think there was some “user error” in my mixing of Ironman Perform last year, as I simply followed the package instructions, not understanding that the mix ratio they proposed was probably not for a relative lightweight like me. To their credit, Beachbody Performance spells it right out on the canister for their pre-workout Energize product, so you know the standard measure is for someone 160 lbs.
My tip of the day: No matter what nutrition product you use, make sure you understand the weight for the “baseline” mix ratio and adjust from there.
I'm halving the recommended dose for Beach Body Energize, using 1 scoop per 16 oz and calling it “close enough”. I think excess sugar is part of what made me so miserable last season, so I’d rather have too little sugar than too much at this point. Later in the season sweat tests will make sure I’ve got the right ratio of water, salt, etc. so I’m not worried about being terribly precise at this point, other than to avoid too much sugar.
I started my Beachbody Performance test with the pre-workout drink “Energize", and did a double-take after opening the bottle—the color is bold, kind of like tumeric! The drink itself is also a pretty vivid yellow and lives up to to the lemon flavor on the label. Even though I’m not a huge fan of lemon, I've grown to like the taste.
Actually, what I think I've grown to like is the caffeine kick! ;-) Beachbody Energize must have the caffeine equivalent of a triple-espresso, because I am AWAKE when I use it before an early morning workout. It delivers way better than a cup of coffee, which means I don’t have to drink coffee AND something else as I gear up for a workout or race. Simplicity for the win!
The “Hydrate” product is a lot more like the usual sports mix, so that was an easy switch. We’ll see how it continues to perform as my workouts get longer—so far, so good!
As I don't typically use a post-workout drink (other than the occasional chocolate milk), I'm curious to give the “Recover” product a try. In the short time I’ve been using it, it’s hard to know how much difference it makes, but I can say I was pleasantly surprised. You know its going to be tasty as soon as you open it, because it smells just like a chocolate bar. (Even kiddo wondered where the chocolate was when he wandered in the kitchen after I opened the jar!)
While there is plenty of controversy about whether chocolate milk or a recovery drink is the "best" fuel, one of my current goals is to get 20g of protein in post workout. There are 20g of protein in a serving of Beachbody Recover, vs. 8g in a serving of the chocolate milk we've got sitting in the fridge. Given the current goal, Recover makes sense. If my focus later in the season shifts to whole foods, then it's nice to know there's an easy swap at the ready.
Last but not least is the vanilla “Recharge” product, which was an entirely new concept to me. I’m aware that recovery drinks are important after working out, but I guess I’m behind—I didn’t know we were supposed to be drinking them before bed as well! In talking with the InsideTracker team about evening whey protein drinks, I learned a few interesting things. They help:
I foresee using Recharge more later in the season when the big miles kick in and evening cravings set in. The “Energize” looks like it could easily become a go-to late-night “snack” that’s designed to help with recovery without sabotaging the work of the day.
The true test of a nutrition product is how well it serves you over the course of a whole season, and on your big day(s). Given the positive experience I’ve had thus far, I’m looking forward to giving Beachbody Performance a go for the season!
Disclaimer: I received XX2i sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
While I may be guilty of (over)analyzing many aspects of my triathlon gear, sunglasses haven’t yet made that list. Frankly, I’ve got such a talent for abusing (and losing) sunglasses that investing in a really nice pair of sunnies hasn’t been a consideration. I tend to race in the Ironman brand of sunglasses that Target sells—that’s how fancy I get. 😉 Consequently, I was happy to review the XX2i France2 sunglasses and find out if there's a noticeable difference in higher-end shades.
Because XX2i is running a special through March 28th for ***50% off*** let me cut to the chase. With the special, you can spend just a few bucks more than I’d be spending for my basic shades at Target, and have better glasses with all kinds of extras—it’s a great deal! I honestly couldn’t believe how much stuff XX2i includes in the package—it was like pulling one of those un-ending ribbons out of a magic hat as I unpacked the box.
Just to show you I'm not exaggerating about the value in the XX2i France2 package, here's an example of what it would cost to buy all the elements they include separately:
Disclaimer: I received a @StuntPuppy Stunt Runner to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
I admit, I was won over just by the name. "Stunt Puppy" is a bit of brilliant marketing from this marketers perspective! But there's a lot more to love about the Stunt Puppy products than just the name:
While we were on the website, Rosie started building a wish list. (It may have been a mistake to include her in the process. ;-) Next on her list is the Stunt Puppy Buff—which just happens to come in orange to match mine... Granted, Stunt Puppy doesn't actually have a "wish list" feature on the website, but they could with the variety of products they offer!
The one thing I had hoped would be on the website wasn't there—tips for using a hands-free leash. Maybe if you've got a docile dog, it's a total non-issue? Perhaps it's just a small group of people like me with dogs that are pure muscle and determination that need to consider how to introduce a hands-free leash? While I don't want to scare anyone off from hands-free leashes, I do think they ought to come with a "heads-up".
So here's my heads-up: My previous experience with a hands-free leash left me laying flat on the ground; a possibility I hadn't considered.(!) My best guess is that Rosie a) felt more free on a hands-free leash and b) wasn't used to feeling free at running speed with a human attached, and then c) the chase instinct kicked in without the usual "checks" to reign it in. Between her weight & muscle, I'm pretty much along for the ride, so that was the end of that.(!)
Fast forward a couple of years, and Rosie and I have learned to be better partners, running and otherwise, and we've completed some agility training, so I felt comfortable volunteering to test the Stunt Runner. Only this time, we walked first. Based on previous experience, I figured she needed to learn to stay by my side while we were running. From agility class, we had learned the basic technique and just needed to practice. Here's what we've been working on in a tutorial by the late Dr. Sophia Yin, a well-respected trainer: "Running With Your Dog: How to Train Fido to Run by Your Side".
I'm happy to report Rosie is very happy with this training process as we haven't done treat-based training in awhile. And I'm very happy as well, as it hadn't occurred to me how handy a hands-free leash would be for dog training! Extra bonus! (It would have been a big help in agility class where juggling a leash, treat bag, and treating required three hands where only two were available. ;-) Rosie and I are slowly easing into a mix of walking and jogging with the Stunt Runner leash, and I have faith we'll soon be truly running hands-free. And that will be a day for both of us to celebrate!
P.S. Grab your own Stunt Runner before 3/15/17 and save 20% with the code "BIBRAVE217".
Disclaimer: I received @LEGENDlegwear to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
Whether or not compression gear works is a hotly debated topic, and kept me from looking into compression gear for several years. After all, it's not cheap, and if you're not sure it's going to work, is it really worth the investment?
Although there is plenty of diversity of opinion on compression wear, the benefits are clear to me; both on in the themes emerging in the research, and in practice. As it relates to athletes, compression gear is often recommended in the following areas, which I'll address individually in this article:
While initial studies were mixed, there seems to be more consensus building around the use of compression for recovery as illustrated in these studies:
About Compression for Travel
Another well accepted use for compression wear is on travel days leading up to big events. Being couped up in a car or airplane for hours right before a race is not ideal prep, and fortunately, compression can help.
According to airhealth.org, "about 85% of air travel thrombosis victims are athletic, endurance athletes like marathoners." This topic alone is substantial enough for it's own article—in the meantime I encourage you to do some research before you get on a plane after an athletic event. While you may find contrary opinions on this subject (as with nearly anything health related!), when even Ironman admits that its athletes "are a perfect storm for a DVT", it seems prudent to take note. After all, if it simply takes putting on a different pair of socks to help reduce your risk, why not? (Learn more about other risk factors for DVT through Mayo Clinic or discuss with your doctor.)
About Compression for Performance
While there is not yet much research to support the benefits of wearing compression gear during performance (training or racing), I'm going to go out on a limb and say the lack of scientific proof doesn't matter so much in this case.
One thing that clearly stood out in talking to fellow athletes and researching this topic is that there is a well established positive effect of compression gear during performance. Even if it is a placebo effect, people "feel faster", or "feel sleeker" or "feel stronger" and sometimes "more able to push through" tough spots where they might have otherwise struggled.
Given that so much of being an athlete is about putting in the training and then being in the right mental space to compete at your best on the big day, if putting on some compression gear acts like a superman cape did when you were a kid, why not? There is no evidence to say that compression gear hurts, and plenty of anecdotal evidence about how much it helps.
Why LEGEND Compression
With more companies offering compression gear all the time, it can be hard to make heads or tails of what truly differentiates brands. I'm glad to have tested LEGEND, because I frankly wasn't that familiar with their brand before the test. Along the way, I learned a few things I really appreciate about their company, and maybe you will, too!
Go ahead. #Make2017LEGENDARY and use the BibRave discount code "rave20" for 20% off LEGEND compression!
"Disclaimer: I received Knuckle Lights to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!"
Would you see me running in this high-visibility vest?
It’s a trick question. One I’ve had too much time to think about while logging the miles.
The answer is no.
Not if you were looking at your phone as you rolled through both the crosswalk and the stop sign.
The funny/not funny part of this is it happens to me most often crossing roads that go by our schools. My easy run with #stuntpuppy is a 5k loop that passes 3 schools, and already since election day, I’ve twice watched people roll on by without seeing me. (Both times, in the school zone.)
I use election day as a reference because one of the schools doubles as a voting place, and someone in a hurry to get home from the polls never saw me. It’s one of those moments you remember with too much clarity. It’s the first time I had an urge to chase a car—and I did make an effort—but the driver was speeding away before my chasing and waving to “wake up” and watch for fellow human beings could register.
Soon after that day, I bought a florescent vest, hoping to improve my odds.
Nope. Didn’t work.
It’s amazing what you don’t see when you think you have a moment to check your phone while rolling to a stop.
I couldn’t be more grateful to @BibRave and @KnuckleLights for showing up at just the right time with an opportunity to test some BRIGHT handheld lights. We’ll see if they prove to be more of an attention-getter than high-visibility gear alone—so far, so good! I believe these lights in particular serve to tip the scales in favor of the runner because they tick all the boxes:
The only other light I’ve run with to compare this to one came out of my backpacking gear—an ultralight, retractable Petzl headlamp. As the days got shorter and dusk kept sneaking up on me while I was still running, I tried the Petzl to improve my visibility (more so than lighting the way). It worked “ok” as a run light, though if had I not been wearing a winter hat, I don’t think it would have been super comfortable for running. Headlamps also create a “bobbing” light vs. a continuous beam like the Knuckle Lights—making the Knuckle Lights a clear choice for running in the dark or on a trail where you need a clear view to avoid obstructions, etc.
I’m excited to continue testing these lights and trying them out on other adventures. When Ironman finally rolls around, I could see using these on the run course, as lights are required after dark and I’m expecting to be rolling in during that timeframe. I wish there was a bike version—these are so much easier to charge than the current set of USB bike lights I’ve got! I'm also thinking these lights will give me another reason to be more confident to try more trail running as they seem really well suited for trails.
Where I really expect Knuckle Lights to “shine” most is on my typical gray-day winter run. I feel like the lights make me more visible, and give me a shot at getting a drivers attention if need be. (They certainly work to get the attention of kiddos in the house. 😉 )
A quick tip before I go—if the price seems high, consider getting a less fancy pair of running/winter gloves and invest more in lights instead. I've started using a cheap pair of knit gloves that come with screen-friendly fingers—and somehow the cheesy knit gloves seem to keep my always-freezing-cold hands warm (and work better with my Apple Watch) than other, fancier options. When it’s bitterly cold running weather (teens & below), I turn to my Turtle Gloves with heat packs tucked in the fold. Although that's a post for another day...
One more tip to help with the cost: Get a pair of Knuckle Lights now and save 10% with code "bibravepro"! Enjoy!
And be safe out there.
Yes, I do realize the way to stay warm in the pool is to swim harder. 😉 However, if you're one of us “adult onset swimmers” that does classes where there's a lot of drilling and standing for instruction and/or you’re a very lean athlete, the pool can get pretty darn cold.
After watching one of my teammates shiver through a workout, I lent her the gear I bought for my Total Immersion class. I had purchased an insulated long sleeve top for that class because I was afraid I’d freeze to death with two days of swim instruction in and out of the pool. (This coming from a person who has fingers that go white and numb at the first hint of cold.)
Thankfully, that class turned out to be well structured with a lot of classroom work first, and in between pool sessions there was a chance to shower and change into warm clothes. Between the structure of the class and the long top, I was comfortable the whole time despite my initial concerns. And since the top helped my teammate in class, too, here’s some info on where to buy similar swim tops for my fellow shivering triathlon swim training friends!
DAKINE Neo Insulator Rashguard - Long-Sleeve - Women’s
While this specific model is discontinued, there are other insulated rashguards on the market, which is ultimately what you’re looking for. They seem to be marketed most at surfers, so that’s something else to consider in your search. I picked up this model at backcountry.com, a great place to get high quality gear at good prices. For a special backcountry code, see the discounts page. (BTW - The short sleeve version is still on closeout at some places, and would probably work as it's the insulated core that's probably doing the most work to keep you warm.)
I've also picked up light-weight long sleeve swim tops at Land's End for outdoor swimming (sun protection in that case!). I see some people use them for water areobics as well, so they might be just enough extra insulation to work for a tri swim class, too.
Specs on the above Long Sleeve Half-Zip Rash Guard from Land's End:
In summary, you're looking for rash guards which are typically non-insulated, and might be considered surfing gear. Select a verison with an insulated/neoprene core for more warmth. And if you've got a favorite I haven't mentioned here, would love to hear about it in the comments!