Gear Review: 2xu Vectr Sock and Calf Sleeve

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2xu Vectr Socks and 2xu Calf Sleeve 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!

When I started to run I never would pay attention to what socks I was wearing, or what impact they had on my day.  I quickly realized if you take as many steps as are necessary to complete any long run a small issue with a sock can cause havoc during and after the run.  A small rub on your foot causes a blister that stays for days effecting your ability to run or even walk around during a regular day.

Sock on.jpgThe 2xu Vectr socks are some of the best socks I have ever had an opportunity to wear.  I have had great runs ruined by socks but I am confident these socks would allow any run to not be ruined by a sock.  These socks do not add what a new pair of shoes does to your run, and in fact these socks only do their job because you do not notice them having any effect on your run.  To test the socks I wore them throughout a whole day where I am able to concentrate on how the socks feel more easily than I can during a run.  The socks did not disappoint. Throughout the day, no matter what I did, the socks performed well and did not rub uncomfortably against my feet.  To also test these socks I wore them with multiple pairs of shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, and regular lounge shoes and the socks performed perfectly with all of them.  There is nothing I would change about these socks and from here forward I will wear these socks during my long runs and races.

Calf Sleeve (From Dicks)

Taken from Dicks.com

The second product I had the ability to test was the 2xu Calf Sleeves.  I must first admit
that I do not normally wear calf sleeves.  So needless to say I knew I as tried these they would take some getting use to.  During the first couple of runs with them I was inside and running on an indoor track for some speed work.  During these workouts I felt the calf sleeves might have made my calves sweat more than normal, but at the same time they felt fresh throughout the workout.  After these initial workouts I was able to wear them during some outdoor runs and here is where I was really able to feel a difference.  Not only did they provide some warmth to my lower legs, but they allowed my legs to feel more responsive throughout the run.

Products in Box.jpgOne opportunity I had with these products was the ability to test them together.  When they are worn together the products cover the whole bottom half of my leg.  Just like when the sock is worn by itself, these products work best when you do not realize anything about them during your workout.  During most of my training session with the products, I was wearing both of them at the same time.  NEVER did I have any issues with either product rubbing, or chafing.  I did make sure they did not overlap too much around my ankle in order to better allow no chafing to occur.  I believe the only way to improve on a great product is to partner it with another great product.  That is what happens when you wear the 2xu Vectr Sock and Calf Sleeve.

Products on their BoxI have never been the biggest proponent of compression but after testing out these products, as well as previously testing the 2xu Hyoptic Tights, I am coming around to believe good compression gear can make a difference in your training.  After wearing both of these 2xu products I felt I was able to more quickly recover, or I felt better after the exercise was over.  I still will not suggest everyone wear compression gear, and I will not wear it everyday, but I do believe there is a benefit of it and no company creates compression gear better than 2xu.

Both the Vectr socks and the 2xu Calf Sleeves are products at the top of their market. There are no products that can compete with the quality of 2xu. They are made with comfort and practicality in mind.  I would recommend everyone go out and purchase both the 2xu Vectr socks and Calf Sleeves to add to their regular running closet.

You can get 15% off any 2XU product with the code “TRAIN15”

-Runner

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Gear Review: Strength Training for Triathletes

I have a confession to make….I am a reader!!!

I believe that reading about exercises, training plans/programs and the stories of the great endurance athletes of the past and present has allowed me to become a better athlete than just training would allow.  Being a law student doesn’t give me much time to read, but I always squeeze in time to read my own books everyday, even if it just before bed.

One of the most beneficial books that I have read regarding triathlon training is “Strength Training for Triathletes” by Patrick Hagerman and printed by Velo Press.  The book is not big, and it is not a good door stop but instead it is a quick read that you can keep around and use every day when you are training, and every day during the off season.  The book goes through all aspects of how to incorporate strength training, why it is so important for any athlete.

The most useful part of the book are the pages and pages that it devotes to showing you exercises specifically targeting the muscle groups used most in each of the three disciplines of triathlon (it also has a section of core workouts).  It covers both arm and leg workouts for each discipline and provides pictures and explanations.

I keep this book in my gym bag, almost all the time.  I will look at it before I go to the gym to get an idea of what exercises to do today, and will even be that guy who pulls it out at the gym to get some more ideas. If you are looking to improve your times, improve your fitness or improve your physique I would recommend doing strength training and I cannot recommend a better book to start with!

Gear Review: 2XU Hyoptik Tights

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU Hyoptik Tights 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!

Well its Wednesday so it must be time for anther gear review. (Working on making it a weekly topic)

Every year being a runner a triathlete becomes harder when the weather turns and the morning move from being crisp to being cold!  I think its safe to say that the majority of runners, like myself, prefer to run outside rather than inside, either on a treadmill or a track.  I am constantly looking for anything that can make running during those cold winter days any easier.  I am looking to find any product that might keep my warm while still allowing my body to breathe after it gets warmed up after a mile or two.

I have not found many products that have impressed me as much as the Hyoptik tights from 2XU.  These compression tights are meant to help you not just run better but also run warmer! I usually am one of those runners that just runs in the cold with shorts and short sleeves with some arm warmers and gloves.  One the really cold days I might put on a sock hat.  Something that I never wore before was pants or tights. The 2XU tights changed that.

2XU Hyoptik TightsI never wore tights before because when I had they did not make my run any better. They were uncomfortable, made my legs warmer and wear out faster.  2XU has designed these tights with that problem in mind.  These tights keep your legs warm in during those early, windy, cold miles but gives your legs plenty of opportunity to breathe and remain cool.

Beyond the obvious advantages that these tights bring on those cold winter days, I have also found they work out great during other workouts.  I wore them while on bike rides and they worked well to keep my legs warm during the cool morning rides. Also I wore them during a couple of gym workouts and the tights did not cause my legs to get any more warm during those indoor workouts.

I cannot recommend these tights enough. If anyone is needing a product to use during those cool runs where you want to remain comfortable at the beginning and throughout, then you should go out and purchase these immediately.

For those who are ready to add a new piece of gear to their closets:
Get 20% off with the discount code “RUN20”

-Runner

Gear Review: Wigwam Ironman® Flash Pro Sock

Taken from Wigwam.com

Taken from Wigwam.com

Christmas is always an exciting time.  No matter how old you get it is always exciting to get a gift.  That fact is especially true when you have a good suspicion that your gift is going to have something to do with either running or triathlons!  Bride knows that my two major hobbies involve a lot of gear, and I am always looking for what my next piece of gear will be so when I saw the two gifts under the tree I had a good idea that they both involved adding to my ever growing collection of gear.  And I was not wrong.

One of those gifts was a pair of Wigwam Ironman Flash Pro socks.  When a lay person lists out the gear that someone would need they to complete a road race or a triathlon they will most likely list socks, but they will gloss over the importance of them during a race.  I have had some pairs of socks that I bought thinking they would be perfect, just to have them end up adding to my misery after a few miles on the road.  I have also had socks that I have relied on for all of my long runs because of the additional support or cushion that they provide.

Low profile on the foot!

Low profile on the foot!

I have had the opportunity to wear these socks for a few runs so far and I am very impressed.  The socks are made of mostly nylon but have a warm smooth feel to them on your feet.  I would describe it as almost a wool feel.  They sit very low on your foot but do not slip down on your heel while running that could lead to some blisters forming on the back of your heel.  I have had socks that did that in the past and a mid run blister has led to some of my worst runs ever.  I could not ask for more of these socks and I am going to get more in the future.  The only downside, and it is a big one, is the price.  The socks regularly sell for $13 a pair on the Wigwam website so if you can find a deal on them they will be well work the price.  They are not my everyday sock (because I do not want to spend the money to but that many pairs) but they are one of my go to socks when I know that I do not want any distractions during my workout.

Highly recommended!

-Runner

Gear Review: XX2i USA1 Sunglasses

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i USA 1 Sunglasses 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 review!

XX2i Glasses in McLeanMany people believe that the only thing you need to run is a pair of shoes but any person who has trained for a race knows that is incorrect. No matter how much equipment I get I always find that there is other pieces of equipment that will help me train better, be more comfortable and get faster.  Beyond all the extra equipment, beyond shoes, there are only a few pieces that I advise any beginning runner to get.  I always suggest to find some socks that are very comfortable and a good pair of sunglasses.

I have blue eyes and I feel that my eyes are more sensitive than others but everyone should have a good pair of sunglasses for those sunny days that are beautiful that you must go on a run.  With the importance that I put on having a good pair of sunglasses I am constantly looking for the best pair available.  That brought me to try out the XX2i USA 1 sunglasses recently.

It is tough to make a pair of sunglasses unique.  There have been many different types of sunglasses made for specific purposes.  The XX2i sunglasses are not created for a specific purpose, rather they are made to be a great overall pair to wear while pounding the pavement or while driving.

XX2i Glasses in CarbondaleUnfortunately I found that the XX2i glasses did not stand out in the crowded field of sunglasses.  The USA 1 glasses are good glasses but I feel that they are just good but not really great for any one purpose.  They hug your head and stay very still during a run which is more than many other glasses.  I think it says a lot that I really do not have much to say negative about this pair, but at the same time, I do not have much to say positive about them either.  They are a classic glasses and there is not much that I can say beyond that.  If you can get a pair then I would suggest you do so, they will work well for any runner, or endurance athlete, but there are other pairs out there that are better suited for running or cycling.  Although there are better glasses out there, these will not disappoint and will serve any runner well.

-Runner

Gear Review: Rudy Rydon Glasses

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Rudy Rydon Glasses 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!”

Every runner, whether you run just one day a week or multiple times a day, knows that running takes more than just a pair of shoes.  There may not be many “required” purchases in order to hit the streets but there are many that will make that run easier, better and more enjoyable.

Rudy Rydon Sunglasses from Website

Rudy Rydon Sunglasses (taken from e-rudy.com)

I learned quickly after starting to run that one necessary piece of gear for me is a pair of quality sunglasses.  I learned that I have very sensitive eyes and will often wear glasses well into the late evening, after most people will take their glasses off.  Knowing this put extra emphasis for me to find not just a pair of sunglasses that successfully will block the sun from distracting me and blinding me on a run, but also a pair that is comfortable enough for me to wear longer and more often than most others will wear their sunglasses.

I am naturally skeptical when trying out another pair of sunglasses because I know that even a bad pair of sunglasses that wreak havoc on my runs.  I do not like running while having to squint in order to make sure I do not trip on the sidewalk.  I approached the Rudy Rydon glasses with this built up skepticism but also with a hopeful outlook that a such quality company would  produce a quality product.

I was not disappointed.  The Rudy Rydon glasses quickly become one of my favorite pieces of gear on my runs and rides.  The glasses are built out of very light materials so they do not feel heavy on your head, and their light weight allow them to sit softly on your nose without much bouncing up and down.  I have worn the glasses for many hours during runs and rides and have never had a problem with the comfort of the frames.  They have never rubbed poorly, or sit uncomfortably during any event. I have even worn them as regular glasses through the day and have not been disappointed.

Rudy Rydon Sunglasses

Wearing the Rudy Rydon Sunglasses

One of the best features, for any athlete, of the glasses is their lenses.  The lenses change colors depending on the level of light in the room.  This technology has been around for awhile but Rudy has risen the bar in its implementation.  I went on two runs in particular that showed to me the benefit of the lenses.  During one run I started running in the middle of the afternoon and during the run it got dark.  When I arrived back home I realized that I still had the lenses over my eyes but hadn’t noticed because of how effortlessly the lenses transitioned as the sun set.   The second run started in the morning when the sun had just gotten up, but during the run the clouds rolled in before a storm yet I was able to keep the glasses on throughout without any interruption.

Lastly, I believe that it should be mentioned that these glasses are versatile.  I used them predominantly for running but the weather allowed me to wear them on two bike rides of over an hour.  Many endurance athletes know Rudy from their cycling apparel and equipment before their running products.  These glasses fit into a category where they work for either.  On my bike rides the glasses were able to stay on throughout the whole ride, regardless of how light it was, the weather or the time of day. This capability of knowing that you won’t have to worry about taking your glasses off, or trying to look through them as it gets dark is a great quality that adds to an already great product.  As a triathlete, I could not ask for a better pair of sunglasses.

Overall Rudy has not disappointed with the Rudy Rydon sunglasses.  Although many people might not realize it, sunglasses can make your runs and your rides easier and better.  The Rudy glasses do just that.  They are a piece of equipment that I will be able to rely no matter the conditions, the duration or the type of activity I participate in going forward.

-Runner

Gear Review: Addaday Pro Massage Roller

Disclaimer: I received a Buff 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 have been searching for a good roller that I can use for a long time now.  I am constantly playing other sports outside of my regular training and I am regularly sore after these extra activities, as well as my regular soreness after running and training.  With the Addaday Pro Massage Roller I have found something that meets all those needs.

Addaday Pro Massage Roller Picture

With the roller you are able to hit every spot of your body to relieve pain and soreness.  I have not only been able to get some relief after my runs, but I have also been able to work on rolling before runs to help with any post workout soreness and pain.

I have really enjoyed getting to know about the technology and techniques involved in the Addaday Roller but I will not claim any expertise yet.  The Addaday website has a wonderful set of videos that help train you on how to best use the products.  You can find those videos here and throughout their site.

PROS:
-Can reach a variety of spots and locations
-Easy to learn by using the Addaday videos
-Variety of rollers allow you to address a variety of sore areas
CONS:
-Hard to pack because of size
-To take full advantage you must take time to learn how to properly use the product

I look forward to continuing to use this product and continuing to learn how to better use it.  It has worked well for me so far and I am confident that it will continue to improve my wellness and my recovery going forward. In fact, I am so impressed with this product, I am going to look at other Addaday products and how they too can better my recovery.

-Runner

Gear Review: Half Buff USA

Disclaimer: I received a Buff 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!

CO BuffThere are many products out there to help runners and athletes to make their workouts easier, more successfully and more comfortable.  Some of those products focus on helping us recover (foam rollers, compression, food), some help you track and execute your runs (shoes, watches, clothes) and more, like the Half Buff help you be more comfortable during your run.

I sweat a lot, just ask anyone who has seen me after a run over 3 miles.  It does not matter if I run inside, outside, slow or fast there is a good chance my whole shirt will be soaked.  The Half Buff helps keep the sweat out of your face and makes sure that your eyes stay clear of sweat throughout your run. As someone who constantly battles with dripping sweat, I am excited if any product can help that issue.

FIT: I wore the buff as a bandana around my head and it stayed on very well throughout all of my runs and never fell down or moved around on my head.

FEEL: The fabric is very soft and works well on my head.  It never irritated my skin or caused any discomfort at any time.

Wearing the CO BuffPROS:

  • The buff works well for what it is supposed to do, it keeps the sweat off of your face.
  • No skin irritation
  • Gives your outfit some personality, which is never a bad thing

CONS:

  • Although the Buff serves a purpose, I do not usually get sweat in my eyes and I do not feel that the Buff helps me as much as it would some others.
  • Unlike some other running gear this can only be used once before it must be washed.  You would need to buy multiple Buffs in order to make sure you had plenty for each run.

Overall, I will continue to use the Buff on runs going forward but I will not consider this product a necessity for my runs to be successful.

-Runner

Gear Review: Plantronics BackBeat FIT

Disclaimer: I received a Plantronics Backbeat FIT 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!

There are some things that all runners can relate too.  We all are constantly searching for the best shoe, the latest training routines and clothes that don’t chafe.  One thing that I have been searching for since I started running years ago is a pair of headphones that stay put and remain comfortable no matter if you are sprinting, doing a long Saturday run or going for a walk.  The Plantronics Backbeat Fit is the first headphones that I have found that checks all the necessary boxes for that perfect pair of headphones.

20150714_092424FIRST OPINION:
You can’t help but judge a product by the packaging.  When you first get a new item home it is always a great time opening it and getting to get your hands on it for the first time.  The packaging not only shows the product, but it also really shows how versatile the headphones are.  I loved the opening of the package that lets you see the headphones, how slick they look.  You are able to imagine how they will look on your head by just looking at them in the box.

Storage Case

Storage Case

Arm Case

Arm Case

After I took everything out of the box and read the instructions I was shocked to find a feature that I think could be the best feature I have ever seen with a set of headphones.  In the box there was a storage case that holds the headphones and the charging plug but looks can be deceiving.  This case can be flipped inside out and it becomes an arm band that holds your phone while you run! It could be that I love the simple things but how could I not love anytime that there is a practical and unexpected feature to a product.

USAGE:
I eagerly hit the streets with the headphones later in the afternoon and was shocked at what I felt…because I didn’t feel anything!  The headphones sat perfectly in my ears and didn’t interfere with my running at all.  The headphones didn’t fall out once, they didn’t itch, and they did not feel like my ear was so full that I could not even hear the music that was playing.

After the first or second run I was afraid that maybe I was missing something.  The headphones didn’t move at all during my runs and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke.  To test these as much as I could I made sure to wear them during all my runs, including my long run of 13 miles.  Total I ran over 40 miles with these headphones and through that whole time they performed perfectly.  They did not move at all, they did not cause any problems with me during my runs and they did not loose their signal at all.

With the Headphones After a RunThere are other aspects of bluetooth headphones besides their comfort and in every case these did not disappoint. I charged them fully before the first run and I never even received the low battery alert.   A long battery is vital because, to be honest, I would not want to charge them after each run. I also tested the call reception on the headphones and my friend who called was able to hear me clearly when I answered the call on the headphones.  Best of all was right when the call was over I immediately herd my music kick back on again.

OVERALL:
I cannot recommend these headphones more.  They do not have an obvious faults that would cause any runner, or athlete any discomfort.  I am not someone who wears headphones often, usually because I have not found a pair that fit well.  Going forward, I will continue to wear these headphones and am looking forward to getting to wear them again.

 

 

My Gear: 2014 Specialized Allez Road Bike

I will be honest, I didn’t really like my first bike.  The one that I did most of my triathlon training on was a heavy road bike that was not built to be ridden for the amount of time or the miles that I was riding it.  I stuck with it because I knew that if I was going to spend more on an upgrade I would have to first love riding and second know that I would continue to ride even after the triathlon.

During my training I came to the realization that I did enjoy cycling and I knew that I would continue to cycle after my triathlon.  (I eventually knew that I would do more future triathlons.) Knowing this I began to look at what my future bike would be.  I looked at all sites that I could get a bike from including Craigslist, physical stores, online retailers and everywhere in between.  I finally found a great price on an almost new Specialized Allez that I knew was too good to pass up.  Unfortunately I found this right before the triathlon so I was a little nervous using the bike in a race so soon after getting it but I knew it would be the best decision.

Specialized Bike Review 3

Photo taken from sevenstring.org

Review: 

Simply put…I love this bike.  It is lightweight, easy to maneuver and provides a much better ride than my previous bike.  I am not a competitive cyclist, and don’t expect to be anytime soon, but I wanted a bike that handled better, and rode easier than my other bike and this Specialized Allez accomplishes all of those.

Specialized Bike Review 1

The Bike is Set Up and Ready to go at the Eagleman Triathlon

One of my favorite features of the new bike is the Shimano Claris components.  I am not that knowledgable about the components and have made it a point to read more about them, but I will tell you this, these components do make the ride easier.  The best feature that I have found of these components are the brake handle shifters that are a part of them. These allow my hands to stay in place while I shift.  This improvement over my previous bike has added so much to not just my speed but to my comfort as well.

I am looking forward to putting in many more miles on this bike in the coming years.  I know that with some improvements (including Aerobars and a new seat post) this bike will become a great bike for me going forward for my future triathlons.

-Runner