I have pretty much winged it in terms of running gear, and through trial and error have found certain things that I have come to love. Have a product you’d like me to review? I will give an honest appraisal on this site. Just send an e-mail to me at linda@theaccidentalmarathoner.com and I will be happy to discuss our options!


Product Reviews

Product Review: Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro

May 20, 2019 12:00 pm

 

Disclaimer:  I received an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro 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.

2017 Chicago Marathon, water bottle in hand

For as long as I have been running, I’ve carried a water bottle in my hand. For larger races or distances, I carry a one liter bottle. It can get cumbersome and I can’t tell you how many times my bottle was knocked out of my hand by another runner during a race. I’ve been in search of a good vest to carry my water and other essentials on my runs, but I didn’t want anything that was too heavy or bulky. I’ve read lots of reviews and have gotten lots of recommendations from running friends. When the opportunity to try the Gear Vest Pro came up, I jumped at the chance.

The first thing I noticed (besides the awesome black/orange color combination; I was born on Halloween Day, after all!) was how lightweight the vest is. That’s a big score in terms of the two main features I was looking for. At under a pound, it is very lightweight. Another big score for me. There are tons of pockets including two large front pockets that can carry additional bottles of either water or some other type of endurance/electrolyte drink. In all, the vest has nine (nine!) pockets, one of which zippers closed for added security.

The vest comes in one size and with three different color options (black/orange, lime green, and coyote brown). I choose the black/orange combination because I thought it would match better with most of my running clothes, and did I mention Halloween? I wondered how the one size would fit given I have a relatively small frame but a bit of a wide back. With four different adjustable straps (one on each side and two in the front), the vest was very easy to adjust for the perfect fit. This adds versatility so I can adjust the straps during colder weather where I may be wearing more layers. There is a flexible shock cord on the back of the vest, so if I need to carry or remove extra layers, I can secure them with the cord and have easy access any time I need it. I didn’t notice until the third or fourth time using it that there is a built-in whistle on the top front strap. How awesome is that? You know I am all about safety (you can read these posts for some good tips and ideas on how to improve safety on your runs).

I found the vest to be very comfortable the first day I wore it. Except for the sloshing around of water, I could easily forget I was wearing it. I didn’t know if I would like sipping water from a bladder, but it definitely makes it easier to drink while running so I don’t have to stop. I’ve also used the vest on a couple of bike rides, and being able to drink from the bladder is my favorite feature specific to using it when I bike. I have a water bottle clipped to the frame of my bike, and I can’t take the bottle out of the clip without almost crashing, so I always have to stop for a drink. With the Gear Vest Pro, I can just sip as I go. I’ll be doing a sprint triathlon this summer, and I’m excited to have that option. I will be in Vegas next month and plan to once again hike at the Valley of Fire. You can bet I will be wearing my vest for hiking too!

I completed the Chicago Spring Half Marathon yesterday and with rain threatened in the forecast the entire time, I wondered how the vest would feel soaking wet. Would it be too heavy? Would it cause chafing by adding extra pressure on my wet skin? It poured all night the night before the race and it was pouring during my entire drive into the city but alas, the rain stopped about an hour before the start and it held off for the entire race. While I was thrilled to death, I did not get the opportunity to test how the vest performs or feels when wet. The material seems like it would dry quickly. I can’t wait to see if that is the case.

I really like this vest and I can see using it for running and biking for a very long time. I used it for a few shorter runs just to get used to it, but I imagine I will mostly uses it for longer runs and rides.

Check out the Orange Mud website for more information about this and other Orange Mud products. Use code BIBRAVEGVPRO for15% off all Orange Mud gear!

Check out more reviews by some of my fellow BibRave Pros: Samantha, Andrea, Nicole, Jonathan, Shannon, Becky, Virjinia, Stephanie, Casey, and Christine!

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I completed the London Marathon on April 28th, raising funds for Whizz-Kidz, an organization that provides wheelchairs and mobility devices for children and young adults. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can still do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated!

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Product Review: AfterShokz Trekz Air Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

April 22, 2019 12:00 pm

 

Disclaimer:  I received AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction 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.

I’ve been wanting to try AfterShokz for quite some time. Then when I ran the Surf City Half Marathon in February, the person I was with was wearing a pair. At some point during the race I asked if she had them turned on, since I never heard music coming from them and we were conversing with each other pretty much the entire time. She said she did, and at a normal volume. I was honestly surprised. I guess I assumed with the headphones not positioned in the ears themselves, people around you would be able to hear what you were listening to. As it turns out, unless the music blaring at full volume, you are the only one that can hear what is playing.

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know I haven’t run with music since my first marathon in 2013. The main reason for that is safety. Until recently, I have only run alone, and with the news stories I’ve seen about (mostly female) runners being attacked or worse, and after a near miss of my own, I abandoned listening to music on my solo runs altogether. I’ve definitely missed it though, so I jumped at the chance to try these out.

So what is bone conduction, and how does it work? Normally when we hear, sound travels through the air, creating vibrations that travel to our eardrums. The eardrums themselves then vibrate and send vibrations to the cochlea (inner ear). The auditory nerve then ‘translates’ those vibrations into sounds that we interpret with our brains. With bone conduction, sound travels not just through the eardrums, but also through the bones. According to the AfterShokz website, ‘transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them’. Did I mention I don’t like to plug my ears up due to safety reasons?

I played around with these headphones at home before taking them out on an actual run. They fit easily over and in front of the ears, and are very lightweight. They come in four different colors. I chose Slate Grey but had my eye on Canyon Red as my second choice. I figured the grey would go with everything and you have to look fashionable when you run, right? They come in a nice soft zipper-case that has a luxurious feel to it. They also come with a charging cable and a set of earplugs in case you do want to block outside noise. They have a six hour battery life, which is great for longer races or activities.

Set up was beyond simple – You basically turn them on and easily pair them to your phone using the bluetooth connection. Once connected, you can make and receive calls with just a touch of a button. I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington, DC this month and wore them for the race. With my usual M.O. of minimal training, I finished a good 15 minutes faster than I anticipated. Was it the music that helped me with my pace? I don’t know, but it seems to have made a difference.

The next test was how they would work when riding my bike. I always wear sunglasses when I ride, mainly to keep the wind and bugs or dirt out of my eyes. And of course I always wear a helmet, so I was worried all three things together would be too cumbersome and maybe even hurt or just not work. They all fit together so well, except for having music playing, I wouldn’t have known the Trekz Airs were there! I was able to listen out for traffic, have a conversation with my husband while we rode, and listen to music all at the same time.

A big question, of course, is ‘what about the sound quality?’ In a word…fabulous. I listen to a wide variety of music and tested these out with several different genres. The sound quality is crisp and perfect with any type of music I listened to. They also did great when I listened to a podcast on one of my treadmill runs the other day.

Without hesitation I would recommend AfterShokz! There are four different products (two are wireless and two are wired) with different price points, adding some variety that can fit most anyone’s budget or needs.

Interested in trying AfterShokz Trekz Airs? Check out the AfterShokz website for more information and for a limited time, get $50 off the Adventure Bundle using code BRBUNDLE! Do you already own AfterShokz bone conduction headphones? I would love to hear what you think!

Check out more reviews by some of my fellow BibRave Pros:  Christine, Stacy, and Adam!

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I will be running the London Marathon on April 28th, raising funds for Whizz-Kidz, an organization that provides wheelchairs and mobility devices for children and young adults. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated!

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Product Review: Addaday Pro Massage Roller

March 8, 2019 6:00 pm

 

Disclaimer:  I received the Addaday Pro Massage Roller 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 first learned about foam rolling when my kids were running cross country and track during their high school years. I’d play around with their rollers here and there, but I was never too religious about it. A few years later, due to poor mechanics and far too many hours sitting at a computer, I developed some numbness and tingling in my arms because of tight muscles and pinched nerves. I wound up in physical therapy and again incorporated foam rolling into my routine to help my muscles relax and to relieve the pressure on my nerves. As often is the case, once I felt relief and the symptoms went away, I pretty much stopped using the foam roller unless I was having a particularly rough time.

Image result for foam roller meme

Fast-forward to the past year or two, where I have been running more and stretching less, and of course getting older by the day. I had been trying to schedule deep tissue massage at least once a month to help relieve some of the tightness in my muscles, but of course that can be very costly and with my work and travel schedule being so hectic, it’s hard to schedule the time. I again started using the foam roller sporadically, but it always felt clumsy and I was often rolling off of it instead of rolling with it!

When the opportunity to try the Addaday Pro Massage Roller came up, I jumped at the chance. To be clear, the Addaday Pro Massage Roller is not a foam roller, but rather a self-massage stick that can be used to target multiple areas, some of which often are hard to reach.

The first thing I noticed about the Addaday Pro Massage Roller was how lightweight it is. It is 21 inches long and has three different colored rollers. According to the website, the two softer blue rollers are “designed for kneading can help with scar tissue”. The two gray rollers are medium and “help flush out lactic acid and muscle fatigue”. The small red pin point muscle roller is “for shin splints, Achilles and other hard to reach areas”.

I’ve been using the Addaday Pro Massage Roller for about a month now, and I have to say – I love it! It took a few times to get the hang of it, but now that I have been using it for a while, I know how to hold and it and how much pressure to apply where. At first I used it after running or working out, but in the past two weeks I have been using it when I wake up in the morning to help stretch my achy muscles. I use it most often on my lower legs, but I have also used it to get a good massage of my lower back. At this point I can say for sure that the roller is a great tool for kneading and relaxing my muscles, and I frequently use the red roller to help relieve the shin splints I occasionally get when running on my treadmill. With continued use I hope to appreciate the benefits of flushing out built up lactic acid and relieving muscle fatigue.

Another thing I really like about the Addaday Pro Massage Roller is that it fits in my carry-on suitcase. As I mentioned, I travel quite a bit, and after a long plane ride it’s nice to massage my stiff muscles when I arrive at my destination.

Overall I think the Addaday Pro Massage Roller is a great tool for home use to supplement professional deep tissue massage.

Have you tried the Addaday Pro Massage Roller? Check out the Addaday website for more information on this and a variety of other tools to help relieve muscle tightness and pain!

Check out more reviews by some of my fellow BibRave Pros:  Virjinia, Stacia, Jenn, Maria

I will be running the London Marathon on April 28th, raising funds for Whizz-Kidz, an organization that provides wheelchairs and mobility devices for children and young adults. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated!

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Product Review: Zwift RunPod

January 2, 2019 12:00 pm

Disclaimer:  I received the Zwift RunPod 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.

For reasons many of you will remember, despite the frozen tundra that was winter in Chicago last year, I took my runs outside as part of a challenge to run either 40K (about 25 miles) or 80K (about 50 miles) over a 14-day period, from January 2nd to January 15th. Me being me, of course I went for the bigger distance. The photo on the right is me about to go for my first run of the challenge. Needless to say, these runs weren’t fast, they didn’t last long, and they probably weren’t very productive. But I met the 80K challenge (in fact exceeded it) only to receive…please don’t get me started.

Anywho, fool me once. This winter I am keeping most of my runs indoors. The older I get, the less I like the cold, and at any age, I’ve never particularly liked freezing my buns off! 40° or higher and you will likely find me outdoors. But temperatures below freezing? No thanks.  Luckily, I don’t hate the treadmill. In fact I kind of like it (I know that’s blasphemy to many runners)! Until a few years ago, I never ran outside, so I have a pretty good relationship with Old Milly. In fact we’ve been together for almost 20 years! So when the opportunity to try the Zwift RunPod presented itself, I was more than happy to give it a try.

So what is Zwift, and what is a run pod? I’m glad you asked! Zwift is a platform for both cyclists and runners where athletes of all levels can sync up a pod (attached to their shoe) and participate in virtual rides or runs, either on their own, in specific groups, or with random participants around the globe. The Zwift platform is downloaded to a computer or tablet device, and for the best experience, the Zwift Companion app is downloaded to a phone (either IOS or Android). The Zwift Companion app allows users to communicate with other runners. Once the platform is downloaded, an account is set up and allows you to custom-create an Avatar that you (and others) can watch virtually running on the screen in sync with what you are actually doing on the treadmill. You can create groups, participate in scheduled events, or just run at your own pace in the comfort and convenience of your own home (or gym if you prefer). Since I tested the running platform with my Zwift RunPod, I will focus on that for my review.

The Zwift RunPod is a small device that fits in the palm of your hand. It easily clips to your shoelaces and with motion will ‘wake up’ and sync up to the platform on your device. I received mine in late November and couldn’t wait to test it out. The first thing I did was download the Zwift platform to my laptop. I downloaded it to my MacBook Air and it worked like a charm. The first time. The next time I tried to use it, I couldn’t get it to sync up, no matter how hard I tried. I ran on my treadmill for 30 minutes, but my Avatar just stood there bending and stretching the entire time. She did get a pretty good stretch in! I was, however, able to track my run on the Zwift Companion app on my phone. I decided to try a different device, so I downloaded the platform to my Microsoft Surface. I had some trouble getting it to work, but eventually got everything to sync up. I took a nice 3.3 mile virtual run through the streets of London, and enjoyed having something to focus on during my run.

Next on the agenda was a virtual 30 minute run with a number of other BibRave Pros. I was excited to participate in this run and see exactly how the platform works for running virtually with a group. I was especially excited because my neighbor and I have been running together for the past few months, and I was hoping we could get some virtual buddy runs in on our respective treadmills during the cold winter months. I headed down to my basement about 15 minutes before the scheduled event to make sure I could get things up and running in time. But alas, try as I may, I could not get it to work. I was able to watch my group’s Avatars run the course, but I couldn’t get my phone or my laptop to recognize the device.

The following day I decided to start from scratch. I changed the battery in the shoe pod and deleted and then reinstalled the platform from my laptop and the companion app from my phone. And…Wollah! I was back in business! Since then, I’ve completed a few more virtual runs and have not had any issues at all. I’m not sure if I had a weak battery, if it was operator error, or if my Wi-Fi signal in my basement was being sketchy. Probably a combination of things.

Now that I have had a number of runs using Zwift Run with my pod, I can safely say I would definitely recommend it. It’s a nice way to keep motivated on your indoor runs, especially for those of you who like to call it the DREADmill. With several spring races coming up this year, I am very much looking forward to my indoor training runs over the cold and snowy winter months.

Do you already have a Zwift RunPod? Add your Zwift user name in the comments below or send me an e-mail (link above) and we can go for a virtual run together sometime! If you are interested in purchasing one, click on this link and use code BibRave15 to receive 15% off of your purchase!

Check out more reviews by my fellow BibRave Pros:

Lissa, Log, Stacia, JanellePreston, Matthew, Katy, Megan, Virjinia, Lindsey, JuanAmanda

 

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and Athletes

December 6, 2018 12:00 pm

This post contains affiliate links

Today is Saint Nicholas Day, and for me that generally serves as a reminder that it’s time to start Christmas shopping! While I do pick up a few special gifts here and there in the months leading up to Christmas, I generally don’t go into full shopping mode until mid-December. I find that’s when I get the best deals, and under pressure, I know I will get done!

If you are looking for just the right gift for the runner/athlete in your life, you have come to the right place! Maybe you are the runner/athlete who is looking for some ideas to give to your family and friends. Or maybe you’re just looking for ideas for gifting yourself! And I say why not? After all, you worked hard this year, didn’t you? You deserve it! Here are some of my top picks for this year. I am happy to be able to share a few discount codes for some of them with you!

If you are looking for a nice stocking stuffer, how about a book about running? One of my favorites is Running Past Fifty: Advice and Inspiration for Senior Runners. I hate to think of myself as a ‘senior’, but I guess I fall into that category. I didn’t start running until I was in my 50s, with my first race ever being the 2013 Chicago Marathon. I had no idea what I was doing. The day before the race I met my friend Tom (‘Pacer Tom’, as he is known), and he assured me he would get me through the full 26.2. I believed him! He paced at 5:25 and brought me in at 5:24:58! The guy knows what he’s doing, and if it weren’t for him, I might never have run a race again! Tom just finished his 470th marathon, and is just 12 states away from finishing a marathon in all 50 states for the fifth time! You will find inspirational stories of runners like Tom in the book, with lots of anecdotes and inspiration and advice from some of the true experts in the field.

And speaking of stocking stuffers, how about a fun  pair of socks? You know I love my Balegas (check out this fun pair), but I am also loving the Swiftwick brand lately. Check out their fun winter holiday patterns on their website, available for both men and women. There are so many fun patterns out there, why not buy a pair or two for yourself? After all, you can never have enough socks (says the person with three drawers full of socks)!

SPIbeams LED Hat  As soon as we moved the clocks back this year, my early morning runs became pitch-dark runs.  I even skipped a few of them because I did not feel safe running in the dark. I received a SPIbeams LED Hat as part of being a SPIBelt Ambassador and boom! Problem solved! The LED lights in the front of the hat nicely light up the path in front of you, and there are two red lights on the back of the hat that can either flash or stay illuminated so motorists or other walkers/runners can see you from behind. They come in black, neon yellow, or my favorite (pictured here), pink. The hat breathes nicely and the batteries are replaceable, though I have not needed to change mine after months of use. There is an easy on/off switch, so you can wear this hat day or night. There are also LED Visors in the same color options if that’s your jam. Use code SPIAMBASSADOR for 15% off of your purchase!

And while we’re on the topic of SPIBelts, though I previously included them in my Holiday Gift Guide last year (click here to see the full post – these items remain among my list of favorites!), at the risk of being redundant, I will include them again this year. They make an awesome gift for runners and non-runners alike! They can be used not just during physical exercise, but also during travel, while shopping, or any time you want to carry small personal items (the SPI in SPIBelt!) and want to remain hands-free. They even make belts for carrying small medical devices such as insulin pumps or epi pens. Again, use code SPIAMBASSADOR for 15% off of your purchase!

And hot off the presses, check out the 2018 SPIBelt Holiday Gift Guide! They’ve made shopping as easy as 1-2-3!

And by the way, if you love SPIBelt products as much as I do (and why wouldn’t you?), head on over to their Facebook page using this link to learn about the program and how to apply. You will meet an amazing group of people and will have lots of fun along the way! Applications are due December 21, 2018, so don’t delay!

My kids have been using Jaybird Wireless Headphones for years, and when I finally got my own pair, I quickly realized why they love them so much. The TARAH, TARAH PRO, and X4 are wireless in that they connect via Bluetooth to your phone, and the the RUNs are truly wireless, with no wires whatsoever! The RUNs are sweat proof and water resistant, while the other three models are both sweat and water proof. The Jaybird App allows you to customize your sound, save it to your buds, and share your preset sound with friends. The App can integrate with Spotify to allow for sharing playlists with other people. Prices range from $99.99 to $179.99. Being the highest-priced option, I thought my kids would want the RUNs. As it turns out, they like the other three options better, because they like to occasionally take the buds out while they are working out in a gym and just hang them around their necks while they are moving between equipment. I had the opportunity to try the TARAH, and I absolutely love them for both their comfort and their sound.

Did you read my review of the ActivMotion Bar? Well why the heck not?! That’s okay, I forgive you (this time). You can read my full review using this link. Here’s the CliffsNotes version:  The ActivMotion Bar is a tool that allows the user to train using dynamic variable resistance. Generally when we train using weights, the resistance is fixed, meaning that it doesn’t change. The ActivMotion Bar employees variable (changing) resistance through its rolling steel weights within the bar itself. The ActivMotion Bar is filled with steel balls that roll back and forth within the bar when it is moved or tilted. These moves engage the core and really force you to concentrate on balance and stability. I’ve been using the ActivMotion Bar for about a month now, and it has changed the way I approach my core strength training. Through January 7, 2019 you can get 25% off of your purchase using code fitappraoch25. And right now the over-stocked 10-pound bar is on sale for $89.99 (regularly $139.99), so after the 25% discount, you can get it for almost half price! Here is the specific link to that option.

Silly rabbit! Did you think I would post a gift guide for runners without my favorite running gear? I am obsessed with rabbit, and I think you will be, too! Crafted in California by runners, for runners, rabbit is my absolute favorite when it comes to outfitting my runs. Check out their products using this link to save 10% off of your first purchase!

Finally, if all of your workouts have your muscles feeling tight and sore, I would HIGHLY recommend the MyoBuddy Massager! It comes in two versions:  Either the MyoBuddy Massager Pro, or the MyoBuddy Massager Pro Plus. These products are admittedly not inexpensive, though the MyoBuddy Massager Pro is currently on sale for $329.99; regularly priced $399.99. The MyoBuddyMassager Pro Plus sells for $399.99. In either case, this is an amazing product that is well worth the cost. Use code ACCIDENTAL and receive $100.00 off of your purchase!

Think about how much is spent on a professional massage every week, every other week, or even once a month. Over time the MyoBuddy Massager pays for itself. These massagers provide professional-grade deep tissue, warming, trigger point, and vibrational massage, which can give instant relief to muscle soreness and myofascial pain.

But wait! There’s more! If you’re still at a loss as to what to buy for the runner in your life, how about a race entry? I know I would appreciate this awesome gift (hint, hint)! It’s a nice way to support your runner’s obsession with love of running. Don’t know where to start? Why not check out The BibRave 100, listing the 100 best races in America? Voted for by runners, you are sure to find a race entry your gift recipient will love. Or just search the BibRave website where you can search thousands of races and read reviews written by runners, for runners.

I hope some of these items will help you as you weed through the commercials, catalogs, and online ads trying to find the perfect gift for the runner or fitness enthusiast in your life. What other gift ideas do you have? I’d love to hear from you! Happy shopping!

 

 

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