Category Archives: Equipment

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:

Product Review: Saucony Ulti-Mitt

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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Vaseline Your Feet

English: Vaseline Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Right before my first marathon, I was given some excellent advice – rub Vaseline all of your feet before putting shoes and socks on.  This sounded a little funny, but made sense.  The Vaseline creates a nice protective layer over your feet that helps prevent them from getting blisters.

It feels really funny both as you put it on and then after you are done running.  I did it for both of my marathons and am quite proud to report that I didn’t get any blisters on my feet!

Three important thoughts:

1) Make sure you cover your entire foot, including in between your toes.

2) You should still wear quality running socks.

3) Put your socks on immediately after you put the Vaseline on. Vaseline will collect dust, lint, etc from your floor and you could have a serious issue if a small speck rubs your foot for 26.2 miles.

What have you done to prevent blisters on your feet?

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BOB Stroller Recall – Choking Hazard

BOB Strollers are facing their second recall this year.  The first in February was due to a drawstring that could get wrapped around a child’s neck.  This month’s recall is due to a piece of cloth that may get detached posing a choking hazard.

From the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: B.O.B.® single and double strollers

Units: About 411,700 in the United States and 27,000 in Canada (357,000 units were recalled in February 2011 due to strangulation hazard posed by canopy drawstring)

Importer: B.O.B. Trailers Inc., of Boise, Idaho

Hazard: The stroller canopy’s embroidered logo’s backing patch can detach, posing a choking hazard to babies and young children.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received six reports of children mouthing the detached patch. Gagging and choking were reported in two incidents. The backing was removed from the children’s mouth without injury. In each of the reported incidents, the children were seated in an infant car seat attached to the stroller.

Description: This recall involves all B.O.B. strollers manufactured between November 1998 and November 2010. Strollers manufactured after October 2006 have a white label affixed to the back of the stroller’s leg with the manufacturing date. Strollers with no manufacturing date listed were produced prior to October 2006 and are included in this recall. The strollers were sold in single seat and double-seat models. The BOB®, Ironman® or Stroller Strides® brand name is embroidered on the canopy of the strollers.

Sold at: REI, Babies R’ Us and other children’s product and sporting goods stores nationwide and between November 1998 and October 2011 for between $280 and $600.

Manufactured in: Taiwan and China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled strollers until they remove the embroidery backing patch from the interior of the canopy’s logo. Consumers should contact B.O.B. Trailers for instructions on removing the backing.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact B.O.B. Trailers toll-free at (855) 242-2245 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at

Note: Health Canada’s press release is available at

Picture of recalled buggy showing location of logo on canopy

Detail of recalled buggy canopy underside

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about your experience with the product on

CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

Under federal law, it is illegal to attempt to sell or resell this or any other recalled product.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go online to:, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain this news release and product safety information at To join a free e-mail subscription list, please go to

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