Review (and Giveaway!): Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running

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***CONTEST IS OVER***

I love trail running. Being in nature, cruising on some single track – there’s nothing like it. So when I saw that fellow freelance writer and runner Meghan Hicks and her partner Bryon Powell wrote a new book about trail running, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Meghan and Bryon are contributing editors for Trail Runner magazine, and are also the brains behind iRunFar.com, a trail running and ultramarathon website. Needless to say, they know what they’re talking about. Not to mention that Meghan was the first female finisher of the grueling Marathon des Sables in Morocco in 2013. If you haven’t heard of it, go check it out. I’ll wait.

As the title suggests, Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running is a comprehensive guide to all things trail running. The book covers everything from running & trail technique to gear to how to deal with weather conditions to avoiding injuries. The only thing this book does not offer are training plans, but there is an entire chapter dedicated to creating a training plan yourself, including how to organize training phases.

Gorgeous photos!

Gorgeous photos!

This book is very well-written, has beautiful color photos, informative sidebars, and a bonus “Places and Race to Inspire” page in every chapter!

And lucky for you, I’m giving away a copy! Check out the Rafflecopter below on how to enter, and I’ll be drawing a winner on Sunday, May 15! If you live where Amazon can deliver, you can enter! Even if you don’t win, I recommend buying yourself a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher, but the opinions are my own and I’m fronting the cost for the giveaway because I want to support Meghan & Bryon.

Review: Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver 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!

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As you may have heard, I’m training for the 3-day TransRockies Run in the mountains in August. I usually wear a waist belt with hydration, but have been looking for a lightweight backpack type option that would allow me to comfortably hold a little more stuff. When I saw the Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver, I was super excited to try it out and see if it would work for my big race.

What I received to review

From the website:

Tired of bouncing and sloshing hydration packs? Solution found, meet the HydraQuiver™. The HydraQuiver sports a silky smooth webbing, long spandex pockets to hold your phone while running, an interior rear cargo storage and a secure zipper pull.

Thick foam padding and big air channels provide ample support and maximum breath-ability. The running water bottle is easy to reach and replace thanks to a wide funnel opening and perfect retention. We use a reusable BPA-free water bottle to make refills quick and clean up easy. Unlike a hydration bladder, these are much easier to wash! For your nighttime safety we have a reflective logo on the bottle holder.

Features: Capacity – 140 cu in ~ Weight without bottle, 7.2oz/204 grams, with bottle 10oz/282 grams ~ Super breathable nylon ~ Secure storage with headphone port ~ Bottle: BPA Free 25oz ~ Patent pending

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The Good

It’s definitely light, even with a full bottle of water. Even though it’s light, and there is a minor amount of sloshing (it is a bottle of liquid after all), I didn’t feel like it was bouncing or moving at all.

It holds quite a bit of water. The bottle holds 25 oz. of hydration liquid, which is more than enough for me for pretty much any run or hike that I would be on.

The pocket was surprisingly big. I thought it would just be a small pocket, but it actually goes behind the bottle and spans the entire width of the pack. It can easily hold keys, a phone, and a snack. There is also a clip for your keyring to keep that in place, which is a nice feature. The headphone port made it easy to plug in headphones and string it through without having to leave the zipper open.

There are also a couple velcro pockets on the shoulder straps that are perfect for a gel. It was actually stretchy enough that I could fit my phone into it if I wanted to keep it close to snap pictures of my hike or trail run.

Under the velcro pockets is a little band that you can double up your straps, which kept them conveniently secure instead of flopping around.

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While I found it more difficult to grab my water bottle for whatever reason, it was super easy to get back in the pack. The top of the bottle holder is wider than the bottom, which makes it easy to pop back in and keeps it pretty secure. You can lean over or and it isn’t going to just fall out.

The padding on the back was comfortable and the air channel gave some breathability. Of course, it still got sweaty, but I didn’t really notice that my back was sweaty until I took off the HydraQuiver.

The materials are high-quality and the pack is durable. This pack is well-made and I can tell that it will last a long time. It’s sturdy and easy to clean.

Photo from Orange Mud website

Photo from Orange Mud website

The Not-So-Good

As I mentioned before, I am on the hunt for a solution that will allow me to carry more for my longer adventures and eventually, the TransRockies Run, so I was excited to see that the HydraQuiver has a built in area to strap down a jacket. Unfortunately, you have to purchase a separate “cord and cord lock set” for an additional $4.95. I was bummed that it was a separate purchase, instead of it being included with the HydraQuiver.

I had a big issue with the fit. It was easy to put on, easy to adjust, but chafed my armpits and rubbed the top of my shoulders (through my shirt). It didn’t matter if I tightened it or loosened it, the straps don’t have any padding beyond the shoulders and rubbed my inner armpit. If I tightened it to where it was close to comfortable, it restricted my arm movement. If I loosened it too much, I the shoulder padding/pockets were too far back. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was, but after several runs, I never felt comfortable with the pack, which was really disappointing.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are so many things that I really like about this pack, but when it comes down to it, if it’s not comfortable to wear, it’s just not going to work. I think Orange Mud is a great company, but this pack is not for me. That being said, there were other BibRave Pros that really loved the pack and didn’t have the same issue with the fit, so you may want to check out their posts, too – Katie, Samantha, Shannon, Jessica, and Emily.

The Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver retails for $84.95 and comes in black, gray, orange, and pink. There is also a double barrel version if you want to hold more water, and a Vest Pack that has a chest strap. If you want to try out Orange Mud for yourself, use the code “BIBRAVE” for a 15% discount!

Join us on Twitter for #Bibchat on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 pm MST – Orange Mud will be there and may be giving away a hydration pack!

Review: XX2i Bermuda1 Sunglasses

Disclaimer: I received a pair of XX2i Bermuda1 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!

Some people collect shoes, some people collect bags, some people collect sunglasses. I’m beginning to think that I fit into the latter category (though I do love bags, too). One of the reasons for this is because I keep getting the opportunity to try out amazing sunglasses that are great for literally ALL OF THE THINGS.

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I previously reviewed XX2i’s USA1 shades, that are designed for running. This time I am super psyched to talk about the Bermuda1 shades, XX2i’s first casual sunglasses (AND they aren’t even out yet! You can find out more about snagging a pair at the bottom of this post).

What the Bermuda1 Kit Comes With:

  • 1 pair of XX2i Bermuda1 (mine are matte tortoise shell with blue polarized lenses)
  • 1 hard case
  • 1 soft pouch
  • 1 sport strap
  • 2 XX2i stickers
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Sorry it’s a little dark!

From XX2i:

“As XX2i’s first casual model, the Bermuda1 is the ultimate go-to sunglass that goes easy on your wallet. Available in classic Matte Black, Matte Tortoise, White & Black, and Crystal Black, the Bermuda1 is the perfect accessory for adventure, whether that be a trip to the beach or a quick walk with the dog. Using the same advanced materials as XX2i’s performance models, the Bermuda1 comes standard with polarized lenses that employ 4K optical technology, ensuring the utmost frame durability and lens clarity.”

The Good

These sunglasses are SO light and I love the oversized frame. I now do everything in these from walking to dogs to driving around to running. They stayed in place and didn’t bounce, which was somewhat surprising since they are so light and there is not rubber nosepad or anything.

The polarized lenses are super clear and crisp.

XX2i has a great warranty – a full year. If anything goes wrong, you can return them with no questions asked and only pay the shipping. I like not having to worry that I’m going to destroy my new favorite pair of sunglasses.

I found the Bermudas especially great for showing off a new hair cut, running, and practicing my duck face.

I found the Bermudas especially great for showing off a new hair cut, running, and practicing my duck face.

The Not-So-Good

Honestly, I don’t have anything negative to say about these sunglasses. They are unisex, which means they may be a little big for some people, but I’m kind of loving the oversized shades.

The Bottom Line

These sunglasses are my new favorite casual shades. I probably won’t wear them a ton for running, just because I have other sunglasses that are made for performance, but these are definitely my go-to pair throughout my day.

Because they aren’t for sale yet, I can’t tell you how much they retail for, BUT if you join us for BibChat on the Twitter on April 26th at 7pm MST, you will be the FIRST to know how to purchase a pair of Bermuda1 Sunglasses! And you can get a sweet discount… 50% OFF with the code “XX2iRocks”.

Race Recap: Platte River Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Platte River Half Marathon 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!

This race was my first half marathon since at least 2011, maybe even 2010, so I was really excited. I didn’t PR (and didn’t expect to), but I was super proud of myself anyway, and beat the goal I had in mind (2:30). It was also super exciting because I got to meet fellow BibRavers Bradley & Katherine IRL!

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Registration: The registration process was easy and was with Race Roster online, and you could get your name on your bib! I received a confirmation email, then a couple emails the week before the race that told me the final instructions were posted on the website. It would have been nice for the instructions to have been emailed, but that’s not a huge deal.

Communication Leading up the Race: I was a little disappointed in the lack of social media engagement. I posted on IG and tweeted regularly, and never received a like or response. In fact, the last post on their Twitter account is from St. Patrick’s Day, even post-race. Again, not a huge deal, but some engagement would have gotten me more excited about the race.

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Packet Pickup: They offered three days to pick up your bib (Friday, Saturday, or race day) so I went on Friday afternoon, and there were only a couple other people there. Packet pickup was quick and easy. It was at a local Runner’s Roost, and this particular location has a great downstairs space for events, so I was lead downstairs and easily picked up my bag and long-sleeved shirt. There was also some sponsor samples down there. Runner’s Roost and Asics were main sponsors of the event and offered a discount on Asics products at the store that day.

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Pre-Race: The day of the race, it was really easy to find parking. There were two bigger lots, but we chose a street spot that was only a block away so my boyfriend could drive over to the finish. He didn’t have any trouble finding a spot within a couple blocks of the finish line, either. There were plenty of Port-a-Potties near the start line, so the bathroom line moved pretty quickly.

THE RACE!: The race started in five waves, which helped us get a bit spread out and it wasn’t as packed as it usually is when you have 1500+ runners starting at once. The point-to-point course started in downtown Littleton and then headed out to the Platte River Trail. It was a cool, cloudy day, so it was perfect racing temps!

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The Platte River Trail has some dirt and gravel, but the multi-use path is mostly paved. There are some small uphill/downhills underneath roads, but overall it’s mostly flat and scenic along the river, with a couple industrial sections.

There were plenty of volunteers along the course, and hydration (water and nuun) every couple miles. Because this was also a relay, there were two points where runners were handing off, but the process was smooth and didn’t disrupt the race in any way.

Around mile 12.5, there is quite a hill going up and over an overpass, but the perk is that you get to come downhill and then cruise around a corner to the finish line.

It's a little blurry, but this is what I was staring down with a 1/2 mile left in the half!

It’s a little blurry, but this is what I was staring down with a 1/2 mile left in the half!

Finish & Expo: At the finish line, I got a big medal and *another* swag bag with a glass and a bottle opener. There was plenty of water and signage so I knew where to go to find the expo. It was a couple blocks down the road, but again, easy to find. At the expo were plenty of samples of nuun, Noosa yogurt, Skinny Pop popcorn, and a few others. There was beer and food as promised (hot dogs, burgers, mac & cheese), and a band playing music.

More swag at the finish line!

More swag at the finish line!

The expo was right next to the RTD station, which was the way back to the start line where most people parked, but as I mentioned above, my boyfriend picked me up, so I didn’t experience that. Runners were supposed to be able to ride the RTD back for free.

Post-Race: The results weren’t posted until a couple days after the race, and my posted time was two minutes off of my watch time. I have a feeling that maybe my chip was picked up as soon as the waves started, because I started in wave 4. I’ve never had my watch that far off, and I always hit it as I’m crossing the mat, so it could just be me, but I’m not sure what happened there.

The race pictures came out on Friday, so five days after the race. The photographer wasn’t very easy to spot, so I didn’t even realize they had a photog out on the course. The pictures were sorted by time (instead of searchable by bib) and didn’t really give an indication of where they were on the course, so it was a matter of looking through many photos to try to find mine. I also wasn’t able to find a picture of me at the finish line, which is a bummer (but luckily Eric took some pictures for me!).

Overall, this was a well-organized race, a lovely course at a great time of year, and I definitely recommend it! There are a few things that could definitely be improved (social media, photographs, etc.) but those are what I consider to be add-ons and not essential to the success of the race.

For more pictures and a different perspective from Bradley, who came here from sea level check out Bradley on the Run. Also head over to Katherine’s blog, a fellow Coloradoan, who wrote a lovely review as well.

Review: Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Headphones 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!

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I have been noticing more and more people wearing fancy wireless headphones, and I’ve wondered if they were any good. What sets the Aftershokz Trekz apart is that they are not only wireless, but also use bone conduction technology, which “guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.” See the orange sounds lines below, vs. the traditional headphones/earbuds with the blue sound lines.

Photo from Aftershokz website.

We are in 2016 people, and this is some serious science. Photo from Aftershokz website.

What the Headphones Come With:

  • 1 pair of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones (they come in blue, green, or gray)
  • 1 case
  • 2 ear plugs
  • 2 “fit bands”
  • 1 USB charging cable

Aftershokz Trekz kit

From the website:

The lightweight and comfortable Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones are the safest alternative to traditional sport headphones and earbuds. Bone conduction technology, an open ear design and a suite of convenient features deliver premium music play and crystal clear calling without compromise. Designed with athletes in mind, Trekz Titanium are sweatproof, secure, and will allow you to hear your surroundings – no matter where life takes you.

The Good

They are definitely light and durable. You can bend them and twist them easily. I *may* have dropped them a couple times, too, and they are still fine.

The lightness makes them pretty comfortable, too. I wore them on 2+ hour runs, without even really noticing that they were there. When I have my earbuds in, they eventually start to annoy me.

When I first put the Trekz on, the headphones felt a little wiggly, but I added the fit bands and after that, they felt nice and snug.

The fit bands are small, but seemed to make a difference for me.

The fit bands are small, but seemed to make a difference for me.

The sound quality is good. It’s not as good as earbuds in my ears, but that’s kind of point, and I could definitely hear environmental sounds (bikes, cars, people) when I was running, which was great. If you put the earplugs in, the sound quality is much better, and comparable to what I would expect from a high quality in-ear earbud or headphone.

The battery life is great – six hours on one charge. Mine never ran out because I charged it after a couple long runs, but six hours can get you through most long runs and road races.

The Trekz aren’t waterproof, but they are sweatproof and rainproof. I was afraid that I was going to have to test this out one day when I almost got caught in a storm, but luckily I made it back in time 😉

The rain was coming!

The rain was coming!

You can connect the headphones to multiple devices via Bluetooth. I usually have mine connected to my phone, but tested them out with my computer at a coffee shop and had no problems.

The headphones also have dual, noise-cancelling microphones so you can use it to answer phone calls. I tried it with a couple calls and the sound quality was good.

The Not-So-Good

This is probably a wireless headphone issue, not an Aftershokz issue, but if you try to sit back or have a big hood or something pushes into the headphone part around the back, it pushes them off your ear. This means that the headphones are best used while being active, driving, or if you are sitting forward.

The Bluetooth can be finicky. I noticed that if I had my phone near my shoulders in a pack, or in front of me at the gym, it worked fine, but if I had it around my waist, the music would skip. I consulted fellow BibRave Pro Katherine about this issue when we were running the Platte River Half Marathon, and she told me that the Bluetooth receiver thing was in the right side of the headphones. I moved my little waist pack to the right side and had no further issues.

As I mentioned above, the sound quality is not as loud or as high quality as you might like from your earbuds (unless you put the earplugs in). And the whole point of the headphones are to hear what is around you, so that limits the volume.

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The Bottom Line

I am really happy with these headphones. They are light, they are wireless, and they work great (as long as the device is in front of you/on your right side). I would definitely recommend them, and if you decide to try them, get 20% off any Aftershokz product with the code “BIBCHAT“.

Review: On Cloudsurfer Running Shoe

Disclaimer: I received a pair of On Cloudsurfer running shoes 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 there are brands of running shoes that I love, I’m never opposed to trying something new, and I usually change brands every couple years, depending on the new technology that comes out. So when I was offered the opportunity to test the On Cloudsurfer running shoe, I was interested. Then I saw a picture of the shoes and I was intrigued, but honestly, a little skeptical. There are fads in running that don’t always pan out, but I was excited to find out more about these unique-looking shoes.

In the box

What I received to review

Who is the Cloudsurfer for and what the heck is on the bottom of those shoes?

According to the website, the Cloudsurfer is a neutral performance shoe. The patented CloudTec system are those things you see on the bottom of the shoes. The Cloudsurfer has 13 “clouds” that are designed to close and lock together for a faster take-off that equals more time in the air. There is also a “Speedboard” midsole that that promotes a rolling motion. The shoe has a 7mm drop and the women’s version weighs about 8.5 oz (the men’s weighs 9.7 oz).

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The Good

I tried my Cloudsurfers on a variety of surfaces and for a variety of workouts, and was pleasantly surprised. I loved them for my track workout and on the treadmill – I could definitely feel cushion and the quick rebound. I felt the rolling motion and it felt like my legs were going around in a cycle.

They were also great for hills because when you wear the Cloudsurfers, you naturally shift towards the balls of your feet, which is helpful for running uphills.

The shoes felt light and the mesh upper wrapped around my foot very comfortably.

Oh, and the color is pretty cool, too. Angie got to try a different color and has a ton of photos over on her blog – check it out!

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The Not-So-Good

When I first tried on the Cloudsurfers, they felt a little big. I went with 9.5, which is my standard size (and the size I should have chosen based on the website’s sizing chart), and I like to have about a finger width of space between my toe and the end of the shoe. This was easily solved by using one of the extra shoelace loops.

The price tag is a bit steeper than most running shoes on the market, with the Cloudsurfer coming in at $149, but their entire line ranges from $119 – $179 (for a waterproof trail shoe with ankle stability).

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The Bottom Line

This Swiss company is definitely doing something new, and it’s working. I was really happy with my experience with both the company and the shoe, and they have a really great selection of shoes for different wants/running needs.

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I’ve been seeing more Ons while I’m out and about – have you tried them yet?

Why I Love Perfect Bars (and a Giveaway!)

Disclaimer: I received a sample box of Perfect Bars 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!

***CONTEST ENDED***

I have been on a perpetual quest to find snacks that are not only easy to take on the go (sorry hummus) and are tasty (most protein bars are just gross), but still fill me up and aren’t filled with unpronounceable ingredients.

I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found a winner, and would like to introduce you to the Perfect Bar. Not just a cute name, I’ve found that Perfect Bars are great for a post-workout snack or a mid-day snack to get me through from lunch to dinner. I ate one the other day on my way to a workshop after my long run, and it held me over for 3 HOURS.

With so many healthy ingredients, you wouldn’t expect them to taste as good as they are, either, but I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t taste chalky like some other bars do, and they are true to the main flavor – the peanut butter ones just taste like real peanut butter. My favorite, the Almond Coconut, just tastes like almond butter and coconut.

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Here are the “tech specs” of the bars that I have fallen in love with:

  • Every single bar is non-GMO, gluten free, certified organic kosher
  • The protein in the bars ranges from 7 – 17 grams, which is (in my unofficial opinion) plenty for a solid snack or for post-workout recovery. For a more official opinion, I found an article on RunnersWorld.com that says between 10-20 grams of protein after a workout is more than enough to reap the benefits.
  • Organic honey is the preservative in the bars.
  • While they come refrigerated, the bars will last up to two weeks at room temperature.
  • All of the bars are vegetarian, and the Almond Coconut is vegan (it doesn’t have any dairy).
  • Many are made with peanut butter and/or dates, but the Almond Coconut and Almond Acai are peanut butter and date free!
  • Every bar includes their organic “Whole Food Powder” which consists of: kale, flax seed, rose hip, orange, lemon, papaya, tomato, apple, alfalfa, celery, kelp, dulse, carrot, spinach. I promise you can’t taste the individual flavors. I love sneaky nutrition!

I happened to pick up a Perfect Bar a couple of months ago (Almond Coconut) and it sat in the back of the fridge for awhile. I just pulled it out a week or so ago, and (thankfully) it was still within the best by range, and it tasted just as delicious as the fresh sample box that I taste tested. While the best by date is an obvious suggestion, rumor has it that the bars will actually last up to 9 months (!) in the fridge, if you can somehow not eat it before then.

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By now I’m sure you want to try some, too, right? You can pick up a bar in grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Safeway, even Costco, OR YOU COULD WIN A BOX FROM ME! The sample box has 7 full size bars and 2 mini bars, so you’ll get to taste almost one of everything. It’s super easy to enter below, the only catch is that you have to be a U.S. resident to win! The contest will close at 11:59 p.m. MST on February 13, 2016, and the winner will be announced by 8:00 pm MST on February 14, 2016.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

6 Tips for Staying Motivated to Run in the Winter

Last winter was a disaster for me. I couldn’t get motivated, I couldn’t get out the door, and my training really suffered. This winter, I have been much more successful, so I wanted to share my tips for staying motivated and in shape during the colder months of the year.

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  1. Sign up for a winter or spring race. Nothing motivates you to get out the door like dishing out cash and having something on the calendar to work towards.
  2. Run before work or during the day, if possible. This has probably been the biggest change between this year and last year. This year, I work completely for myself, so I have the flexibility to run during the day when it is light out and warmer. I also have more energy in the middle of the day vs. trying to go out after a solid workday.
  3. Mix it up in the gym. There are several options for staying in shape that don’t involve the treadmill, such as the stationary bike, the elliptical machine, swimming, or a cardio class. I’ve gotten in to swimming this winter, and it’s been a ton of fun (as well as a full body workout!).
  4. Work out with a friend. If someone is counting on you to meet them at the gym or for a run, you are far more likely to meet that commitment. It’s much easier to make excuses for yourself than to your accountability buddy.
  5. Get cold weather gear. This is another big one for me. I hate being cold. This year, I’ve stocked up on cold weather gear and have been able to stay warm during my runs, which makes me WAY more likely to get out there. See my guide to winter running post for more tips about layering and staying warm while you run.
  6. Don’t try to stay in peak physical condition. For me, the winter is a time to build my base and keep my conditioning. If I gain something, even better, but my main focus is not to lose anything, so I can start up again in the spring when the weather is warmer.

Review: MESTRENGTH Performance Hydration Drink Mix

Disclaimer: I received a 10-pack of mixed flavors of MESTRENGTH Performance Hydration Drink Mix 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!

You may or may not know that I’m currently training for the TransRockies 3-day Run in August, which means LOTS of long and back-to-back runs. I’ve been starting my search for hydration options that are going to help me both hydrate and recover for my next run, so I was really interested in trying MESTRENGTH.

mestrength box

What I received to review

From the website

MUSCLE CELLS REQUIRE TWO ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS TO FUNCTION PROPERLY – FLUIDS AND ENERGY. MESTRENGTH PROVIDES THESE IN A ZERO CALORIE, SUGAR-FREE BEVERAGE THAT COMBINES 5 KEY ELECTROLYTES FOR HYDRATION WITH 5 GRAMS OF CREATINE FOR PERFORMANCE TO HELP ATHLETES GET THE MOST OUT OF THEIR WORKOUT.

The Good

The powder has limited ingredients: Electrolytes (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium) and creatine, citric acid, natural flavor/color, and stevia. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, if that’s important to you.

All of the products, whether you buy a single flavor or the mixed flavors sampler, come in a prepackaged stick packs. You don’t have to measure or think about it – just mix it with 16.9 or 20 oz. of water and go.

I think the cost is pretty reasonable – just over $1/serving for 16.9-20 oz. of hydration (the 10-pack is a little more expensive at about $1.80/serving).

mestrength ingredients

The Not-So-Good

Unfortunately, the flavor wasn’t for me – I’m not a huge fan of stevia and it tasted both sweet and tart. I watered it down from the recommended 16-20 oz. to 24 oz., and still didn’t think it made much of a difference. That being said, other BibRave Pros, like Frank, LOVE the strawberry kiwi.

The Bottom Line

I like that MESTRENGTH has the limited ingredients and the price is pretty good. The product has no calories, which I think some people would really like, but I want some calories for my long runs. There is also no sugar, but I think that real sugar over Stevia would have improved the taste.

But, just because I didn’t like the flavor, doesn’t mean that you won’t. The 10-pack is a great way to sample the flavors and find out which ones you like and don’t like.

Have you tried MESTRENGTH? What did you think?

Review: 2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU HYOPTIK Mid-Rise Thermal Compression Tights 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!

jumping

I recently posted about winter running, and how important it is for me to stay warm (I’m a big sissy). It’s usually pretty easy to layer up and keep my core and upper body warm, but I find it really tough to keep my legs warm, so I’m always on the look out for tights or pants that will keep me toasty. I was super excited for the chance to try out these 2XU tights, and I was not disappointed!

What I received to review

whole pants

From the website

Stand out, get noticed, and stay warm. HYOPTIK reflective logos help you stay visible when training in low light conditions. A soft brushed thermal inner layer helps retain warmth in cold climates. With coverage over the knee, powerful compression support and protect upper leg muscles to help prevent soreness and fatigue and long term overuse injuries. HYPOTIK THERMAL Compression helps you battle the cold and dark for outdoor training in winter.

The Good

I didn’t run a ton of miles in the tights, but I did run in the cold, and the thermal layer on the inside was warm and soft. While these tights didn’t keep me super warm right off the bat (they are thin tights after all), the thermal inner layer definitely helped.

They is definitely compression in these tights. They felt a bit tighter than my other running tights, but I’ve been dealing with a minor muscle strain, so the compression really helped my glutes to feel protected. The compression also helped with my day-to-day recovery. I wore the tights for at least 30 minutes after each run, and my legs felt great the next day.

side view tights

The overall fit was great – I appreciated the mid-rise, and it was high enough to reduce the “muffin top” effect. There is also a little pocket inside the waistband. There was no chafing, no seams, and I didn’t feel very sweaty after running in them.

The box also says that the tights are antibacterial and have UPF50+ sun protection. The HYOPTIK logos are also reflective for high visibility at night.

The Not-So-Good

These babies are expensive (but look for a discount code at the bottom of this post!). The 3/4 length is $99.99 and the full length is $139.99. If these end up lasting for several seasons (which I think they will), then it would be worth the investment for all of the “running tech specs” involved in the tights, but having only had them for a short time, I can’t speak to the longevity of the product.

box

The Bottom Line

I plan to wear these to run throughout the entire winter. I love that they support my muscles and help me recover more quickly.

If you want a little more support for your legs when you run, you should definitely get yourself a pair.

Get a 20% discount!!! Enter “RUN20” at check out. Good until 2/29.