Category Archives: product reviews

Product Review: Lumo Run

As I shared in January, I was lucky enough to be selected to be a Lumo Run ambassador for the next year which means that I got my own sensor for use for free AND have codes to pass along for all interested.

I will admit that at first, I was nervous to wear the Lumo Run. After all, did I really want to know exactly what things I was doing wrong while I was running?! After my first run, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in fact, my running form isn’t all that bad. You may recall my embarrassment last year during my track 10,000 when a woman yelled “stop shuffling and run!!” as I went by. In first place. The truth is, we could all probably use a little help and for me, Lumo Run is a much more private way to improve.

The Lumo Run is a tiny sensor that clips onto the back of your shorts or tights and just hangs out there while you run. For your first run, you do need to run with your phone to calibrate, but after that you can run with just the sensor or the sensor and your phone for instant updates and suggestions. I never run with a phone, so I sync up afterwards which probably diminishes a tiny bit of the benefit that I could be enjoying.

Approximately the same size as a chapstick.

Lumo Run measures five key categories for efficient running: cadence, braking, bounce, pelvic rotation and pelvic drop. Once it identifies your weak areas, it suggests exercises to help improve your statistics in those areas. For those who use it on with a phone, it can also provide suggestions and corrections throughout your run.

For me, my biggest issue has been braking, which is how much you slow down with every step. Although this is often associated with people who overstride (which is not my issue with my teeny, tiny choppy steps), I’m willing to bet my patented shuffle is creating a similar issue. To work on this, I’ve been doing ankle rolls before every run and recently, had a longer run where all my metrics were in line! Interestingly, this long run was on a car free bike path with no curbs or potholes, which may have something to do with my confidence moving more smoothly over a surface. I did wear it the other day on a trail run, but it was out of batteries so I’ll have to test my theory again later.

This tool is a great one for runners of all abilities. For new runners, it can help with common issues like bounce. For runners with weak hips, it can help reinforce good habits and reduce drop. For runners who haven’t done speed work in a while or are primarily trail runners, it can help encourage a more efficient cadence. What I love most is that your data are kept private if you want to which allows you to improve without feeling totally self-conscious. If you are a someone who runs with their phone, then this tool is practically indispensable for you.

If you want to try out a LumoRun, you can buy one here and with code SM10, you can get $10 off the price of the sensor.

Product Review: Soleus Pulse HRM

It’s always awkward to find a product that you are totally disappointed in, especially when it’s a relatively new company. That said, one of the beautiful things about the blog community and the endurance blog community in particular are the availability of candid product reviews. In the time of a bazillion sponsored posts, as uncomfortable as it is to give a product zero starts, it’s also important to keep it (really) real. I (obviously) wasn’t sponsored for this review; I saw an internet special on this watch and sprung for it because I wanted a wrist based HRM.

I had EXTREMELY high hopes for the Soleus Pulse HRM. It has a built in heart rate monitor which meant no futzing around with a heart rate strap; I could just put the watch on and go. I really like training by heartrate for outdoor tempo runs and for recovery runs but the strap is uncomfortable and almost untenable in the winter under a bunch of layers. It also featured a GPS, activity tracker and chrono function, so my hope was this watch could become my all the time watch. Not so much. If I can’t figure out how to return it, I’ll probably throw it out.

Right off the bat, the watch disappointed. First, the face is HUGE. I can’t take too many points off for this because I have tiny wrists but the watch face was much broader than my bones and to tighten the watch such that it could even work as a heart rate monitor, I was at the very last hole on the strap before the face. I’m not overly vain but it wasn’t a watch I wanted to wear around work because it was just so bulky.

Second, you need a PhD to make this thing work. I’m a relatively smart person and actually tech savvy but the startup guide that comes with the watch is all but useless. You have to go on to Soleus’ website to figure out how to configure it. Again, not a deal breaker, but it certainly wasn’t plug and play and the buttons still didn’t make sense after reading the manual. I would have been willing to spend more time getting to know the watch, however, had it actually worked once I figured out how to start it.

On my first run, it took me all of half a mile to realize that the heart rate monitor just didn’t really work. When I was doing hip swings, it was close to what I assume is accurate in the 90s, but when I started to run, it went to 99. And stayed there. The entire run. Occasionally it would flash in the 120s, but it was never over 99 for more than a second. When I would stop running (say, at a red light), it would occasionally pick up a more believable heart rate but as soon as I started running again, it went back to 99. This happened on the second and third (coincidentally the last time I used it…) runs as well. Meh.

Not only does the lauded heart rate monitor flop, the GPS doesn’t even work well. I’ve been running in Burlington for enough years and with enough watches and GMaps Pedometer checks to know the length of my routes. On my second run with the Pulse HRM, I headed out for a known 10.25 mile loop. When I got home, it measured just over 8 miles. That’s more than just a little error and it was a bright, sunny day.

All in all, there is just nothing redeeming I can say about this watch except that thankfully, the web special that I bought it under seems to have wiped out the stock so you can’t make the same mistake as me. Back to my good old fashioned chrono Timex!

 

Product Review: Skechers Go Meb Razor

I’m a good secret keeper when I need to be but when Dave showed me this shoe in October, it took all of my self-control not to say something. I had pictures on my phone that were burning a hole in my pocket and I texted him a number of times asking him when the Razor was going to hit the market. When my pair finally came in a couple of weeks ago, I broke it out immediately, even though it was snowy and terrible out and decidedly not the conditions for a sports car like the Razor.

Let’s back up for a moment. As I’ve raved about here before and in the real world, the inspiration for the Razor was the GoMeb Speed, which is my all time favorite racing flat, and the GoRun Ride which has been my regular workhorse shoe for the last year. Suffice to say, there was little chance I didn’t love the Razor. With a 4 mm drop, it’s what I’m used to running in and with an improved sole (no holes for rocks to stick in) and upper (comfortable cloth that actually moves with your feet), this shoe nails it. One of the other bonuses of all Skechers shoes is that they come with two insoles which allows you to further customize the fit. I have two different sized feet and if I wear a shoe that fits my left foot, my right foot gets slammed around in too much toebox. With Skechers, I can order a 7, take the insole out on my left and wear the insole on my right and voila, happy feet on both sides. For other people with narrow, wide or some other bizarre foot issue, the insoles give you a chance to essentially get quarter sizes out of the same base shoe size.

I’ve now done a regular run, tempo run, long run and track workout in these shoes. They were great for all uses but I think their real strength is for long tempo runs, marathon race shoes and long runs with quicker effort. They have excellent return off the pavement for workouts but are not quite as responsive on the track for the super-discriminatory. That said, if you were looking to only purchase one shoe (I realize that most people don’t have a quiver of shoes like I do), the Razor is an excellent all-purpose shoe that you can train, race and recover in.

Product Review: Powerlift Tight

I was recently at an interview where the Program Director commented that I was not the person he expected to be the tallest based on our pictures. At 5’10” in flat feet, I am way over 6′ when I’m in my interview shoes and am almost always the tallest woman in the room. All of that height, however, is in my limbs. My torso is short and in a chair, you can never tell how tall I am. As great as long legs are for running, skiing and hiking however, finding running tights that fit is a perpetual pain. If they are long enough to reach my ankle bone, they are falling off the top and if they fit the top, well, I’m on trend for the 7/8th tight.

Regardless, I have a closet full of “close enough” tights but really wanted a pair that was long enough AND warm enough for most winter running days. I don’t run outside below zero because of my hands but I’m generally happy outside otherwise. I checked out Athleta*** because I heard that they made tall tights. Imagine my happiness, however, when I found out that even their regular tights are long! (29″ inseam versus 26 to 27 on most normal tights). I tried on their Powerlift Tight and was instantly impressed. The small regular was both long enough, incredibly comfortable and warm. I think the small long would have been slightly better but they didn’t carry it in store and I was completely happy with the fit of the regular.

To be clear, not me. Just the tights that I bought.

I put them to the test almost immediately in Kalamazoo but they are WAY too warm for 30 degree temperatures. When I was in Minneapolis and it was barely above zero, however, I was warm and happy in just one layer of tights. I have worn them for many runs here, regularly nordic ski in them and also have them on under my downhill ski pants. They hold their shape through many days of activity, are extremely warm and best of all, actually hit my ankle bones. I also bought a pair for my six foot tall aunt who lives up in Northern Maine and she is raving about them as well.

The bonus of these tights are that they come with two well-made pockets on the side of the tights that hold keys, phone or anything else bounce free. They also feature a thick waistband so that you can tuck a shirt in for winter-proofing. Unlike some tights, they also allow for almost unrestricted movement which makes them useful for outdoor winter workouts.

At $98 (although now on sale for $78), these are not a small investment but if you are a cold weather sports person, I can’t recommend them enough. I plan to invest in another pair of lighter tights from them for mid-range temperatures and toss out the rest of my “almost” tights.

***All on my own, I received no compensation of any sort for this review.

Sting or Bee Stung: Welcome to the Hive

honeystinger_nobuzz_color

I am undoubtedly one of the luckiest people on the planet as I get to run and chase my dreams while being supported by an amazing group of sponsors who go out of their way to cheer me on and set me up for success. That being said, I’m pretty picky about who I partner with both because I need to use the products authentically and because despite being just a blogger in a small corner of the world, people trust what I say!

When the opportunity to join forces with Honey Stinger arose, I jumped on it and hoped they would see me as a good investment. I first encountered Honey Stinger when training for the Vermont City Marathon a few years ago. Although I’ve improved markedly in this area, I used to get extremely nervous before races and eating any substantial meal was out of the question. I was able to successfully nibble on a Honey Stinger Waffle, however. At that time, there were no fancy flavors like now, just basic honey flavored waffles. Once I’d discovered that I could tolerate them, however, they were always in my bag in case of pre-race anxiety emergency. Now that I’m a little less nervous but my schedule is 100% more chaotic, there are waffles and chews tucked all over my life; in the glove box, in my white coat pocket, in my locker, in my ski bag etc. They are super portable and if they get crushed, they still taste good! I’m currently obsessed with the Gingersnap and Caramel flavors. If you can be patient, melting the caramel over your coffee or tea makes a delicious treat. I’ve also been experimenting with the Grapefruit Chews. I’m not sure how I’ll attach them to my body for racing (I may not be successful on this front), but they are a great pre-workout boost if I’m starting to get hungry before a run.

As I get back into more long runs, I’ll be trying out the gels as well and will report back. Another great feature is that Honey Stinger features quite a few gluten free waffles, which is a great option for athletes who have celiac disease. One of the hardest things about celiac is having a quick snack to grab before your workout (because so many carbs are gluten-containing), so it’s great that Honey Stinger has a full collection.

As always, full disclosure in this crazy world of blogging endorsements and sponsorships is my goal. While I am not paid by Honey Stinger to discuss their products, I do receive a discount and occasionally free items from them as part of my role as Hive Ambassador. My goal, regardless of my sponsor affiliations, is to always be honest and transparent and you can expect that in this setting as well!

Product Review: GoMebSpeed 3 2016

This shoe was given to me for free by Skechers Performance as part of my 2016 racing kit. The opinions below are my own. 

From the moment I put on these shoes, I loved them. No stranger to minimalist shoes, I like shoes that feel fast and have a smooth, efficient ride and the GoMebs are all of the above. My “purple Mebs” are actually my second pair of Mebs; the first pair is a treadmill only pair from 2015 that I like, but don’t love. Between last year and this year, they made enormous improvements to all Skechers uppers and the difference is incredible.

The GoMebSpeed 3 is intended to be a racing flat and I use them for workouts and races. From right out of the box, this shoe is comfortable and nimble. My first real workout in these was a short hill speed run in 40 degree temperatures and pouring rain and between whining about the weather, I remarked to Will over and over “oh my god, I love these shoes. These are the best. They are so COMFORTABLE.” The sole is firm and has good push-off from the roads or the track but the ride isn’t rigid, which is a complaint I’ve had with past racing flats. The upper is knit and moves well with your foot without feeling unstable and at 5.3 ounces for the women’s sizing, feels barely there once you’re in motion.

GOMeb

The best part about this shoe is that the 4 mm drop and M-Strike technology makes efficient, midfoot running almost automatic. M-Strike technology makes the most cushioned part of the shoe fall right under the ball of your foot so after a few strides, you naturally adjust to land here rather than on your heels or toes. The 4 mm drop is close to what is neutral for most people so you get great push-off without over or under taxing your achilles and calf muscles. That being said, if you are coming from a more traditional drop shoe (8 to 12 mm), you should expect to take time to transition to a 4 mm drop. Too fast and you will be uncomfortable and sore at best and injured at worst.

For most people, this should be a good shoe for speed work or road racing. Efficient runners can expect to be able to comfortable racing up to the marathon; for others, it might be best limited to half marathon or less. Because there isn’t a ton of extra support in the post (middle inside area of the foot), it is a shoe that could work against you in later miles of a marathon as form breaks down. I haven’t raced a marathon since getting these shoes but I would be likely to use them for the whole enchilada.

My only complaint is that they seem to wear faster than regular running shoes, which is somewhat expected with racing flats. I have about 100 miles on mine now and the soles look well-worn. I haven’t noticed any issues with loss of support or comfort but I do think I’ll need to replace them before my usual 300 mile mark.

Have I convinced you to give Skechers a try yet? What’s your go to racing flat? Do you race marathons in flats or in regular trainers?

Product Review and Giveaway: Chafe Zone and Blister Zone Skin Protectant

These products were provided to me for no cost from the MedZone company. The opinions below are my own. 

It’s chafing season. I’ve run through many summers and am no stranger to those days when you forget to do chafing prevention and then pay for it within a couple miles. Just last weekend, I wore a tank top for the first time this season and completely forgot that the neckline rips my skin up. As a result, I’ve had to avoid v-neck shirts all week to hide my battle scars.

When Joe from MedZone reached out to me in April about their line of products, my question was a classic one that gets asked in lots of pharmacology trials: what’s the difference between this product and a well-established product (in this case, Body Glide). Joe was very diplomatic about things and said that the products would speak for themselves. As such, I approached trying the arsenal of MedZone products as a “non-inferiority” trial compared to Body Glide, a product I’ve used for years.

Chafe Zone

In short, Chafe Zone is non-inferior to Body Glide and I mean that in the best way. For the past 6 weeks, I’ve kept my stick of Chafe Zone in the bathroom where I throw my running clothes on and have used it religiously. It’s easy to apply (deodorant style stick) and is translucent but thick enough to see where you’ve applied. Unlike Body Glide, Chafe Zone has a subtle scent which I actually really enjoyed. In terms of function, I had zero chafing incidents and we had some hot, sweaty days that would have been prime opportunities. My only observation with Chafe Zone is that it really stays on, even through a shower with scrubbing! This is a good thing if you’re a really heavy sweater but I did have a couple days where I wished it came off a tiny bit easier. This is where Chafe Zone stands out to me. It was designed first for military and tactical use and it is a formidable product that can go as long as you need it to without reapplication. 

Blister Zone

Blister Zone was harder to evaluate. Knock on wood, blisters have never been an issue for me although spikes tear my heels up. Ironically, I got my first blister in a long time during the Plattsburgh Half and was kicking myself that I didn’t use Blister Zone. Since then, I’ve used Blister Zone to protect that area as it has healed back up. Although it’s not the preferred order of operations, it has worked to keep the skin from opening back up. Given how well the Chafe Zone worked for me, I imagine that Blister Zone would work similarly well for blister-prone folks and Will has been using it on his hands under gloves while doing trail building this Spring.

Pain Zone

Finally, PainZone: This product comes in single use packages but also comes in a roller and is a less viscous version of other muscle rubs. Close to a liquid in consistency, it also contains 3% camphor for pain relief. I’ve been using it on Will’s right shoulder (he recently tore his labrum falling on a run) and he says that although the pain relief is nice, the best part is that the consistency of the gel allows for good muscle glide without any painful friction or pinching. This would definitely have been a product I wanted around for scar massage after surgery and we’re buying a stick for our house as Will awaits surgery later this summer.

In addition to providing me product to review, MedZone also offered three MedZone gift packs to giveaway to readers! I’ll pick three people by Random.org next Sunday (6/12/16) at 5 pm EST. There are three ways to enter*:

  1. Leave a comment about your worst chafing experience and picture of the carnage if you’re really brave.
  2. Post a picture of a chafing nightmare on Instagram and tag me (@runswatrun) and @goMedZone
  3. Share this post on your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (maximum of 1 entry for this option) and tag me and @goMedZone or send me a screenshot of your Facebook post.

*Maximum of three entries per person.

Product Review: Skechers GoTrail Ultra 3

Disclaimer: I’m a Skechers Performance Ambassador, which means that I receive an annual stipend with which to purchase Skechers gear as well as free gear and shoes to try throughout the year. I used my annual stipend to purchase these shoes. The review below represents my opinion as well as technical specifications provided to me by Skechers. 

Dave had been bragging for a while that the GoTrail Ultra 3 was an incredible shoe so with my quiver full of road training and racing shoes, I added this shoe in anticipation of my upcoming New England Trail Championships and Loon Mountain Race in July. Despite coaching cross country, I am generally NOT a big trail runner. However, between the combination of finding my zen on trails recently and this shoe, I’m starting to think I might like to be.

GoTrail Ultra 3

From a technical perspective, the GoTrail Ultra 3 is the heaviest, most cushioned shoe that Skechers offers but has moderate structure so it still moves well with your foot, which is a must on technical trails. It has an aggressive sole with lug rubber knobs and a wide footprint for stability with the incredible bonus of a drainable outsole. Basically, there are holes in the sole that drain water after stream crossings or intentional puddle jumps. Finally, it features the same seamless upper that all Skechers shoes have, making it extremely comfortable despite being a technical juggernaut. It weighs in at 8.8 ounces, which Will informs me is not heavy for a shoe at all. I’m a princess about such things, however, after years of running in 4 to 6 ounce trainers.

What I like most about the shoe is that it is cushioned enough to really let you rip on technical trails that are littered with roots and rocks. I’m not a tender foot but I HATE when you step down on a root on your arch and get that singe of pain/stretch. Except for the gnarlyest roots, I didn’t feel anything sharp in these shoes but still had enough maneuverability and feedback to move confidently over trails. They do feel extremely cushioned when you’re on pavement but as long as most of your run or race is on dirt/rough terrain, it shouldn’t bother you.

The other thing I really like is the grip offered by the sole. It has big, rubber lugs with tiny rubber nubbins in the middle of each lug that operate like suction cups.  Like I said above, I don’t consider myself a proficient trail runner but have been working really hard to improve my skills, especially on downhills. As I’ve gotten more used to running on trails, I’ve been able to rely on the soles of the GoTrail Ultra 3 to really grab on, regardless of whether the trail is wet, frozen or somewhere in between. Because the shoe boasts a comfortable, flexible upper, it bends with your foot, no matter how awkward your landing. Because of this, I think this shoe is a great introductory trail shoe for people like me who are still learning how to navigate trails without coming to a complete stop when things get technical.

Virtually rookie proof...

Virtually rookie proof…

All in all (and with the caveat that I’ve only owned a couple of pairs of trail shoes), this shoe is a great addition to your collection if you’re looking for a hard working trail shoe that can accommodate and boost even a trail rookie.

An All New Nuun

Say that 10 times fast…

Nuun announced a change in formula this week AND a new flavor. My order of Mango Orange Energy hasn’t arrived yet but I’m excited to try it and will report back. In terms of the change in formula, I’m excited to see that they have swapped to plant based sweeteners (it was previously a sugar alcohol) and that they are certified gluten-free, dairy free, soy free and most importantly, clean sport certified. In a time when too many athletes are claiming that they didn’t know what they were putting in their body, it’s important for companies to provide this information and for us to take full responsibility for what we ingest. It’s also nicer on our stomachs to digest plant-based sweeteners rather than sugar alcohols.

Finally, Nuun is clearing out some retiring flavors on sale including cherry limeade, Kona Cola and lemon tea. None of these are my true loves (although I like lemon tea) but if you live for them, stock up now before they are gone forever.

Product Review: Night Runner 270

I bought these shoe lights as a part of a Kickstarter campaign last spring. After another frustrating winter run, a woman and her husband conceived of the idea of a running shoe light that lit up where you were going, not just the bob of your headlamp. As I run in the dark for almost half the year and loathe running with a headlamp, I was excited to try these out.

Sleek, professional packaging.

Sleek, professional packaging.

These were my first ever Kickstarter purchase, so I’ll admit that I was surprised when they arrived looking like something I would buy in a running store. The package includes two lights, a charger for the rechargeable battery, a bag to store the lights in and simple instructions. The lights themselves are sturdy and feature three different levels of light: low, medium and flashing. There is also a red light on the back for people coming up behind you.

I tried this out on a run with Will at 6 pm the other night, which took us from dusk to full darkness. They were easy to get onto my shoe, although I was anxious about whether they would stay on as they just slide over your laces. I didn’t change anything about my stride, however, and they stayed put for the whole run. I didn’t realize it until we got home, but I did the whole run with the lights on low, so the review is even more positive.

From the first few steps, I absolutely loved them. The light beams do bounce just like a headlamp but are aimed at the ground ahead of you, which allows you to be more sure-footed than when you are just hoping you’re stepping high enough. They also make you extremely visible. Cars were staring at my feet at every intersection and other cyclists and runners kept commenting on how awesome my shoes were. When we hit the totally unlit bike path, Will and I were both able to run with great visibility even though only I had the lights on. The only time I didn’t have great visibility was when we were facing oncoming traffic while the bike path ran along the road, but there’s nothing any light can do to stop car blindness.

As we go forward into the winter, I plan to only use the Nightrunners and my Nathan reflective vest. My guess is that most people will also want a headlamp, but I absolutely hate running with them and felt much safer with the Nightrunners than I ever have with a headlamp. At $59 with totally rechargeable batteries, these are a must-have for anyone who runs at dusk or in the dark.