Category Archives: Equipment

Ready for some Gainz?

I’ve been a fan of boxed collections since back in 2013 when StrideBox launched as the go to boxed collection for runners. I wrote about my experiences with StrideBox here and on their 1st and 2nd Birthdays. During the time I got them it was a great value and I got some cool gizmos. It was really nutrition (gels, energy drink tablets, etc) focused so when I got injured I stopped getting it.

Then I found Cairn, which is more broadly focused on “outdoor adventures.” They had lot of cool gizmos and gadgets for an outdoor lifestyle – camping, backpacking, etc. Some of the items were things I would never have bought because I don’t see the value in them – but sometimes it was amazing and worth every penny!! I had to end this box set to help ease the family budget last year!

My wife gets MightyNest which is kitchen gadgets. And my dog gets a BarkBox. You get the idea right… we like getting boxes of goodness each month!!

I’m kind of all over the place with fitness lately – running, road biking, mountain biking, CrossFit, Cyclocross, skiing, bouldering, etc… I had looked at several different boxes related to CrossFit things but none of them really caught my eye or seemed like a good value. I’ve heard about Gainz Boxes for awhile, but it wasn’t until CrossFit Athlete Cole Sager posted about them with a discount code that I decided to pull the trigger and get one.

It arrived this past week and I finally opened it up. It happened to be the Emily Bridgers box with lots of cool stuff. From FitAid was a hat, shirt, can of LifeAid, and socks! It also included some Roasted Broad Bean Crisps from Enlightened and some wristbands from Victory Grips. Plus some kind of discount code or coupon for all the companies mentioned.

Not a bad deal overall.

Best Running/Cycling App: Strava

I’ve tried a few different apps to track my runs and rides. By far the best I’ve used is Strava. It is very stable and collects great data. It also saves your workout data if your phone battery dies and you can upload files from a gps device such as a Garmin. You can pay for premium features, but for most of us they aren’t necessary.

One of the best features is the segments. This allows you to compete against others on certain segments of your workout. You can track your PR for the segment and see where your last attempt ranked. I enjoy seeing improvement over the course of the season. One of the premium features is a segment alert that tells you when you are in a sgement so you can hit it!

There is also a community feature that allows you to track other’s workouts, comment on them, and like them. It also will tell you if someone else did the workout around the same time. So after a race it might say “you did this with 10 other people”. Or on a group ride it might say you rode with John.

Unfortunately,  Strava is really big in the cycling community but not as strong in the running world. Or at least not with runners I know. I would definitely recommend using it as a runner.

Here is a recent photo collage that uses Strava:

Have you used Strava? How would you compare it to other apps? Which app do you use?

Events at Mill City Running in Northeast

If you haven’t been to Mill City Running what are you waiting for?

The newest running store in Minneapolis has everything you need and is located in Northeast right across the Mississippi River from downtown.  They are super-engaged with social media and probably have one of the busiest calenders of any running store in the area.  But it isn’t just your normal group runs or chats with a podiatrist.

They have flap-jack Friday runs (the 6:30am start is too late in the morning for me), Roga (running and yoga) next one on March 22, and a chat about Crossfit for Runners on March 18.  They’ve also got plenty of group runs and group run challenges for all levels of runner!

My daughter and I popped in one afternoon to pick up a gift certificate and they have toys for your little one to play with while you are getting fitted for shoes!

I will be buying my next pair of shoes from them and I hope to be able to make it out to some of their events.

Happy Birthday Stridebox!!

Stridebox is celebrating their 1st birthday!

From their Facebook page:

I first signed up for Stridebox after seeing a post on Running is Funny.  Who wouldn’t want a box of running related stuff sent to them each month?

It was a great deal and I got lots of good sample products in the mail.  But late last year I needed to cancel my subscriber as we were trying to cut costs.  So imagine my surprise/confusion a few weeks ago when I got a box in the mail with Stridebox on the side.

As a birthday present to themselves they sent anyone who had been a subscriber a free box!!

For their birthday they sent me Clean Bottle’s The Runner,  About Time Whey Protein Isolate – Birthday Cake flavored, a reflective snap bracelet, and a nice birthday card!



You should check out Stridebox!!

Using Instagram to Log Your Miles

This winter I started using Instagram as a way to log  my workouts.   You have to be a little bit creative in using pictures to showcase your runs.  It definitely helps if you have scenic or photo-worthy places to go!  It is actually super-easy to do, especially now that most runners always have their cell phone with them.

All you need is your cell phone and a few apps.  You could do it without your phone but the beauty of it is taking pictures while running and its simplicity.  I have a LG Optimus G which has a  13 MP camera which takes some great shots!!

Since I have an Android phone I’m going to talk about Android apps and give links to the Google Play store.  I’m sure all you Apple lovers can find the same apps in iTunes too!

Obviously you need the Instagram app. I just use my phone’s standard camera app, but you could install  a different one if you wanted.  I use Strava Cycling to record my run.  To record the weather for the run, I use the Weather Channel app.  Last but not least, I use Photogrid-Collage Maker to the make the collages of pictures.   I think most phones now have built in screen capturing (shot) but if yours doesn’t you will need one.

Now that you have all the apps installed you are ready to run!!  Here’s what I do:

  1. Screenshot of the weather (usually before I leave, I might afterwards if it is more dramatic!).
  2. Start Strava and run.
  3. Take a few pictures along the way.
  4. Take a selfie picture either at the end or at a special spot along the way.
  5. Finish run and take a screenshot of the Strava Results page (includes map, time, distance).
  6. Make a collage of the best pictures and screenshots in Photogrid, saving the collage.
  7. Use Instagram to enhance the image, writing a brief statement about the run, making sure to include #runlog and #running hashtags.  You can add others too. And if appropriate make sure to include the proper location.  Then I post to the social media sites that I want, usually Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  8. Log my run in RunningAhead.

What creative ways have you found to log your runs?

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Getting Traction on Ice and Snow

What do you wear to gain traction while running in icy or snowy conditions? I personally wear YakTrax when I want extra traction and sure footing.  I know of people who drill small sheet metal screws into their shoes, and I’m sure people use other brand traction devices.  What is your preferred device?

There are a few factors I consider before adding my YakTrax to my shoes.

1) Where am I going?

We live by a hospital so if I run that direction I’m guaranteed that a large part of my run will be on plowed the majority of my run. Running the Lakes? They will be plowed, but not to the ground.  Downtown – plowed to the sidewalk.

2) What are the conditions of the trail/sidewalk?

This depends on where you go.  Most actual off-road trails won’t have been plowed and I often will wear the YakTrax on them just to be safe.

3) Is there fresh snow/ice?

If the snow/ice is fresh or falling then I’d probably wear them just to be safe.

I’ve worn my YakTrax a few times this year for runs. A lot of my runs from home end up having a fair amount of the run being on sidewalks that are well taken-care of (hospital or downtown) so I don’t wear them a lot.

The YakTrax basically use a coil of wire to form an X on the ball and heel of your shoe.  They pull over the sole of your shoe and have a strap that helps hold them on.  They make a very distinctive mark in the snow!  When running on clear pavement these coils add a little bit of spring to your step and if worn for long stretches can mess up your shins.  For shorter periods of clear pavement you can survive or run in a snow bank to prevent the shin pain.

In the past when I’ve known I’ll want them for running around a park I’ve crossed the street or even run in the street instead of running on the hospital’s clear sidewalk.

I’ve been wearing YakTrax since we moved to Minnesota 6 years ago.  I wore my first pair out mid-winter last year and bought a new pair of YakTrax Pro.  I did receive a free pair of YakTrax Pro to review this winter (and some hand warmers).

My YakTrax wore out similar to how the heel of my shoe wore down.  The rubber and coils on the back of the heel eventually broke due to my running form.  I didn’t keep track of how many miles it took for this to occur, but having them for almost 5 years seems like a pretty good amount of time for them to last.

Another benefit of YakTrax over sheet metal screws is that you can wear them on virtually any shoe (mine won’t fit onto my winter boots, but do on my every day winter shoes).  This also allows you to rotate through your running shoes instead of only wearing (and ruining) one pair of shoes!

Have you enjoyed your YakTrax or other traction method?  What works for you?

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Infant in a Bike Trailer

Even though all of the bike trailer companies and the American Medical Association say you aren’t supposed to let an infant ride in a bike trailer, we’ve been pulling Nadia in our Chariot Cougar 2 since she was 5 months old.  Obviously, the trailer companies want you to be extra careful so they don’t get sued and the AMA is smart to say babies need to be a year old – at that point pretty much all babies can hold their head with a helmet on it.  Wearing a helmet is a given and being able to control your neck and head does seem pretty important.

We took care of those issues by rigging up a way to use Nadia’s car seat in the Chariot.  If it is safe enough for a car, why not a bike?

Here’s a short video that shows how I did it: