Archives for Equipment category

Best Running/Cycling App: Strava

Posted on Jun 27, 2014 under Equipment | 1 Comment

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

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 under Equipment, Product Review, Race Review | No Comment

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!!

Posted on Feb 17, 2014 under Equipment, Information, Product Review | 1 Comment

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

Posted on Jan 27, 2014 under Equipment, Information, Training | No Comment

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

Posted on Jan 06, 2014 under Equipment, Product Review, Shoes, Winter | No Comment

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

Posted on Sep 17, 2013 under Equipment, Information, Safety, Video | No Comment

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:

Product Review: Saucony Ulti-Mitt

Posted on Feb 28, 2013 under Equipment, Product Review, Winter | No Comment
Saucony ViZiPro Utili-Mitt

Saucony ViZiPro Utili-Mitt (Photo credit: crossn81)

I’ve been wearing the Saucony Ulti-Mitt for over 3 years now. I initially got a pair to review for Saucony and have been a little late in doing so!! I posted a picture on 11/11/10 3 days before my daughter was born!!  I got the orange vizi-pro ulti-mitts to review.

Oddly, for the past three years I’ve been calling them the wrong name! I kept calling them the Utili-Mitt.  They have many uses and I thought utility was a good descriptor, but ulti(mate) is also a fitting descriptor.  Over the last 3 years I’ve worn them quite a bit in a variety of conditions, including below zero temps and windchill up into the 40’s.

The glove itself doesn’t feel much thicker than a nice liner glove, but the glove has kept me plenty warm.  The wind shield/mitten adds to the versatility helping keep the hand/fingers warmer at even lower temperatures.  It is hard to believe that such a thin piece of wind resistant fabric can keep you so warm.  At the start of the run you can wear the mitten and has you warm up you can pull the mitten part off.  I tend to let it flap in the wind because more often than not I’ll put it back on.  However, you can easily tuck it into the little pocket and pull it back out later if you want.

In March of 2011 one of the finger seams split which was disappointing but at that point in the season wasn’t a big deal.  I had worn them on pretty much every run since I had gotten them, washed them several times, wore them on the bike, and more.  I continued to wear them even in the winter of 2011.  We had gone home to visit family over the holidays and some how the bright orange glove got lost.  I came back to MN with only one glove!!

I really needed gloves and found a pair of Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitt that were similar to the ulit-mitt but were on sale.  I bought them in January of 2012. That was a big mistake.  They were a different fabric and not as comfortable.  The New Balance windscreen was much tighter and while they were pitched as an “electronics friendly” glove they didn’t work consistently well.  The Ulti-Mitt allows you to easily pull your thumb and index finger out of the glove to quickly manipulate your device keeping the rest of your hand toasty warm!  I bought a second pair of the Saucony Ulti-Mitt in April 2012.

The one thing that I never really used was the USB light.  I understand their intent with the Vizi-Pro line of making you as visible as possible and adding a small flashlight to one of the gloves was a good idea of adding visibility.  Unfortunately, the light wasn’t super bright.  It definitely couldn’t be used to illuminate the path ahead of you so I doubt it really added much visibility of you.  The gloves have a reflective Saucony logo on the mitten and the bright orange.  I didn’t feel like the light held its charge for very long and I never remembered to charge it back up.  I think I still have the light but never use it!

They don’t work super well on the bike as there is more wind at the colder temperatures, but in the moderate temps (above 40) when you need a glove they worked great.  I did like the high visibility that they provided for signaling turns etc.  They don’t provide any padding for the bike either!

One other random note about these is that the shell material for the mitt doesn’t absorb liquid so they make great snot wipers!

I wore these gloves this past week for a run in -11 windchill and my fingers stayed toasty warm.  I will say that I can’t remember having taken them on a run longer than 5 or 6 miles in that temperature.  I would highly recommend these gloves!

These gloves are between $35-45 and worth every penny. 

From Amazon:

  • Polyester 92%/Spandex 8%
  • DryLete glove with wind- and water-resistant SonicLite shell mitt
  • Convertible thumb and forefinger
  • USB LED light holds 2 hours of charge
  • Stash pocket to secure mitt when not in use
  • Plush cloth wipes and reflective logos
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