Product Review: 2Degrees Energy Bars

I was recently sent a sample pack of bars from 2 degrees food to review and I am very glad I was.  Prior to them asking me to review I had never heard of the company or their amazing mission. Basically for every bar that you buy, they feed a hungry child.  That is enough of a reason to buy the bar in itself, but these treats are also NonGMO, Kosher, and Gluten free in addition to having 2 flavors that are Vegan.   You can read all about the company mission here

I tested all 4 flavors out last week prior to my workouts and was pleasantly surprised by my findings.  My first test was before a 50 mile bike ride, I rode a route that I had ridden a few days earlier and felt surprisingly stronger, I completed a hill climb that took me 28 minutes a few days prior close to 90 seconds faster with increased power.  Now some of this can have to do with wind patterns, etc.  but I will say I did feel stronger than I did when I had a different bar pre workout.  

Not expecting a repeat I tried a bar before a swim/run workout the next day and I had similar findings, not super strength energy burst but a consistent stream of energy for about an hour throughout the workout.  I noticed the same thing over the next few days while testing, the bars would provide me with about an hours worth of energy before my stomach came back and was asking for more.  I never felt sluggish, but my stomach was clearly asking for more fuel.  

Lets get in to the basics:

Flavors: My personal preference was Chocolate Banana, Chocolate Peanut, Apple Pecan, and Cherry Almond.  I'm not a big fan of anything cherry so that doesn't come as a surprise to me. The fact that they use only all natural ingredients makes the bars satisfying and doesn't have you looking around for more after you finish one. 

Texture: I'm not sure if its the millet or quinoa but these bars have a rice crispie like texture that makes them take a little longer to eat, but also might make them fun to eat for kids. 

Energy: Used pre workout they provided me with about an hours worth of consistent energy without any highs or lows. At under 200 calories per bar that doesn't surprise me.  However because they take a little more concentration to chew it might be tough to take them on a run, but eating them during a bike ride is very doable.  

More information on these bars can be found here where you can also purchase online or find at a local retailer.  Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about my experience, I would be happy to discuss more in depth.  

Product Review: EnduroPacks

What is Enduropacks?

Created by professional athletes, tested on the field!

  • Each pack includes a 30-day supply of liquid multivitamin, glutamine tablets, amino acid patches, and concentrated electrolyte spray.
  • All of our products are GLUTEN-FREE, U.S.-MADE, contain NO GMO, only use ORGANIC ingredients, and are 100% vegetarian.
  • You'll also receive personalized samples, discounts, and exclusive offers.
  • Your subscription does not automatically renew

When I was initially contacted by Enduropacks I was pretty skeptical.  I really wasn't sure if it was going to be anything other than a placebo for most people. They claimed to have everything an endurance athlete needed for one low monthly subscription fee delivered to your door every 30 days.  Although I was initially contacted back in August I wanted to wait until I got back from London and had some time off before reviewing so I started my review process when I started my 2014 training campaign on 9/30.  I've now used the pack for 29 of the last 30 days and I was pleasantly surprised with my findings.  

 

The first part of the pack is the liquid multivitamin.  Initially I absolutely hated the taste of it but you are only taking 1 tablespoon per day so it wasn't terrible.  After a few days I did notice in the fine print on the bottle that it says to refrigerate to preserve the flavor, refrigerated the taste is much more tolerable and almost enjoyable!  The one thing I noticed is that even though tomorrow is my last day on the pack, I still have above 1/4 of the bottle left.  Clearly I don't know how to measure out a tablespoon!  One thing that can be improved here is the addition of a portion spoon so that you get the correct amount everyday.  I have already expressed this to Enduropacks and it is something that I think they might be implementing in the near future. 

PROS: 

*Liquid form is easily digestible and good for those that can't swallow pills

CONS: 

*Medicinal taste when warm

*Can easily mis-measure dosage

*Hard to travel with

Multi

Multi

The second part of the pack is an electrolyte spray. The concentrated electrolyte spray is something I used the least throughout my trial.  It has a light lemon lime taste to it with 0 calories.  The fact has no calories makes it a great option for workouts under 90 minutes where you really don't need any calories anyway but once you go in to longer workouts the benefits diminish.  One bottle is supposed to net you 60 8oz drinks which is more than enough for a month. I have used the spray for several indoor trainer workouts with success.  At the end of my trial period I have roughly 90% of the bottle left! 

PROS:

*Good for providing electrolytes  for short workouts

*Nice light taste

*can be used to re-hydrate after longer workouts without worrying about ingesting extra calories from sports drinks

* Can be easily taken and traveled with on airlines

CONS:

* You need to supplement with additional calorie sources for longer workouts or races. 

* As of now only comes in lemon-lime flavor

Electrolyte Spray

Electrolyte Spray

The third part of the pack is an amino acid patch.  The amino acid patch was a definitely an interesting concept.   While there is some research out there promoting the benefits of amino acid supplementation there is just as much against it.  Either way its part of the system and as far as I am concerned it works.  At first I thought it was a bit strange to be a sticking a patch on but after awhile I got used to it.  The little 1x1 patches are supposed to go on clean dry skin on either your forearm, back or stomach.  To keep things easy I opted to just stick them on my forearms alternating days post workout. Since most of my workouts are in the afternoon I would just pop one on after my shower and take it off the next morning to get the recommended 4-8 hours of having it on.  One thing I did notice is when I would have my patch on during the weekend I got quite a few comments asking me if I hurt myself or what was on my arm.  That could definitely be avoided by wearing the patch on the stomach or back when going out in public.  

PROS: 

*Small squares come in perforated packs so you can easily take one or more at a time if there is a need for travel without taking the whole pack. 

*Simply apply patch and leave on for 4-8 hours post workout and your done. 

*Can be hidden by placing under shirt on stomach or back

*Can comfortably be worn to bed

CONS: 

*Some may feel awkward placing a patch on their skin

*Those that wear the patch on forrms might get questioned 

*Patch leaves a sticky residue when removed

Amino Acid Patch

Amino Acid Patch

The final part of the program is a glutamine complex.   You are instructed to take 2 pills a day before you go to bed. While this is certainly an easy thing to do I came very close to forgetting the first two nights I was testing before I got in to my routine.  I asked the crew at Enduropacks if I could just simply take them along with putting my patch on and they said as long as its post workout it doesn't matter.  After that conversation I simply took the pills anytime I put a patch on and I was good to go.

PROS: 

*2 small pills a day before bed, can be taken with a meal

*Can be taken in conjunction with putting on the patch with no effects on performance

CONS: 

*Easily forgettable after the rest of the routine.

Glutamine Complex

Glutamine Complex

Overall: 

Pro: 

*Delivered to your door on a monthly basis with no guesswork

*Research backed and provided on website with plenty of client testimonials

*The longer you subscribe, the more cost effective it is.

*Samples of new products delivered with your pack on a monthly basis

*Company stands by its product and is very forthcoming with any information and generally very helpful with any questions you may have on the product.   

Cons: 

*Can be pricey if on a month to month program

 *There will likely be a lot of electrolyte spray left over at the end of each month. (which can also be noted as a Pro)

Results by the numbers: 

I came away from this trial thoroughly impressed with my findings.  After the first few days I could start to feel a significantly reduced soreness and by the 7th day on the pack I had virtually no soreness whatsoever while increasing the intensity of my workouts.  Additionally over the course of the trial period I have dropped 5 lbs, with significantly reduced cravings!

Average Run Pace By Week: 

Week 1: 7:11/mi (40.55 Mi)

Week 2:  7:08/mi (47.52 mi)

Week 3: 7:09/mi (49.81 mi)

Week 4: 6:49/mi (57.88 mi)

In addition I raced 3 times over the course of October and I ended up on the overall podium 3 times.  One win, one 2nd place, one 3rd place.  While this is more of a reflection of my conditioning over the last years I can say Enduropacks contributed by allowing me to train the way I wanted to over the last month.  The biggest test was when I did a half marathon in the morning and a 5k in the afternoon and I was able to still get out and train the next day!  

Conclusion:  Enduropacks is not a "magic bullet" that is going to make you PR at every workout or race but a blue collar supplement that will allow you to get out there day after day and chip away at those fitness gains.  After my trial I am completely impressed and without a doubt will be continuing to subscribe to see what impact the addition of Enduropacks can have on my 2014 athletic goals!

With a 30 day money back guarantee and no recurring fees you have nothing to lose, give it a shot by clicking here: your body will thank you! 

Disclaimer:  I was given a month supply of Enduropacks in exchange for an unbiased review. 

 

If you would like to try the product for yourself click here for a discount

  

Product Review: Myothon

*Disclaimer: I was given the first bottle of Myothon for in exchange for an unbiased review

About 3 months ago Myothon contacted me about trying and reviewing their product as they were a new company wanting to get their word out about what they can do.  At first I was a little skeptical because I've used BCAA's in the past when I was in to power lifting without any significant gains, and I really wasn't sure how they were going to help with endurance training.  I have read in many nutrition books that their benefit is questionable but they are not against WADA or USADA rules so I was open to trying them as they are just the building blocks of protein.

From Their Website:

 

Why Myothon™

There are those that work out, and those that train.  Those that train are held to a higher standard, the standard of competition.  Unlike weekend warriors, everything you put into your body counts when winning is on the line.

You know that the battle could be won weeks before you ever set foot on the field.  Every training session, every meal, and every night of sleep can become a competitive advantage.  If you aren’t maximizing something, your competition is.

That’s why we created Myothon™.  Used by top athletes for over a decade, Myothon™’s proven formula allows you to train harder, recover better and perform better.

How Myothon™ Works

Train harder:  Taking Myothon™ has been proven to improve athlete’s endurance.  Studies have shown an increase in time to fatigue and an improved ability to clear lactic acid by 1500%.  When pushing the lactic acid threshold, Myothon™ helps you push yourself to the maximum.

Recent research has suggested that many athletes are suffering from overtraining.  Without providing the proper nutrition, hard training can strain the body’s resources. When this happens, training harder can actually make you weaker.  Myothon™ provides the nutrients to enable you to work harder and more often without fear of overtraining.

Figure 1

Recover faster:  The Myothon™ formula has been proven to enter the bloodstream in as little as 20 minutes. And with a 99% Amino Acid Uptake (AAU) rate, more will actually be used by your body for protein biosynthesis than any other protein or amino acid supplement.

The Myothon™ formula was specifically designed to maximize AAU. Many other ‘complete’ protein sources can boast impressive numbers on the label, but research has proven that little of this actually makes it through to your body, Figure 1. The rest is converted into carbohydrates and nitrogen waste.  Myothon™ is almost 6x more efficient at providing amino acids for protein biosynthesis than whey or casein.

Perform better:  Myothon™ takes your training to the next level. It provides your body with the building blocks it needs to recover.  In addition to the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) required for muscle repair, it includes the remaining five essential amino acids for everything from mental recovery to sleep quality to fat metabolism.

Somewhere out there your competition is training.  With Myothon™, you can train harder, recover more fully and get out there to train again.  Gain your competitive advantage with Myothon™.

What is Myothon™

Those that train need the best quality ingredients to perform the best.  That’s why we source our amino acids from the highest quality manufacturers in the world.  We use the same ingredients that are used in medical grade IV solutions for post operative recovery.

No binding agents, no caffeine, and no sugar added.  Myothon™ won’t keep you up after a late night workout or throw off a diet with low grade calories.  In fact, as pure amino acids there are virtually no calories per serving.  The tablets occupy little space and require no sloppy mixing so you can take it anywhere; at the gym, on a run, or on the way back home.  No shakers or blenders required, and no weird tastes or clumpy mixtures.

 

Since I was in my heaviest period of training for London I decided to give it a try.  On their bottle they suggest using 5 pills before or after a workout or both.  Since I really didn't see the need to take them before I started off my trial by taking them after.  Initially I didn't notice a difference but after the first week I noticed less soreness in some of the same workouts that I had been completing the week before.  I started to feel like my recovery was speeding up.  About halfway through my bottle I started to have some absolutely great workouts, now I can't say for sure if Myothon had anything to do with that, but it certainly did not hurt me. 

As I came to the end of my first bottle I was starting to hit workouts at the highest level I had all year.  I decided to order a new bottle on my own dime and keep the streak going.  On my second bottle I tested taking 5 before workouts, and even 5 before and after on my toughest days.  I noticed it was fairly easy for me to bounce back from a rough session of 5x5 minutes on the bike followed by hill repeats to run at an acceptable pace for 90 minutes the next day.   I liked what I was seeing so much I decided that I would hold off on my review as I would keep using the product up until my last race of the year in London, which meant I would need to purchase a 3rd bottle! 

In my final build to London I continued to use Myothon, mostly after my workouts to help with recovery.  In the 3 months that I used it I had exactly 1 bad workout,  which came after one of my biggest training weeks of the year.  The way I push my body sometimes I expect to fail every now and again, and I had pushed myself to the limit forcing my body to tell me to call it a day.   I don't think that can be attributed to Myothon as I will have a few of those days a year regardless. After tapering down I ended up having my best race of the year putting out my highest power on the bike and running my fastest paces.  

Final Verdict:  I can't say for sure that Myothon helped me recover or improve for the 3 months that I was on it, but after the first month I wasn't going to stop taking it to find out. From what I could tell it helped my recovery, but I did not see any gains in endurance like the website claims.  Is it worth it?  Honestly I'm not sure. For someone spending a lot of time training it might be. Speeding recovery only helps being able to get out there and train harder, which makes you faster.  However there doesn't seem to be anything in Myothon that you can't get by eating a balanced diet.  If you are under a heavy training load it will probably help, but if you are a recreational athlete I would save your money.  Since I finished my last bottle after my last race of the year I am going to wait and see before deciding to continue using it, or to continue on without it. If you are interested in trying it for yourself you can shoot me a message on the contact page and I will give you a link with a discount code. With their 100% money back guarantee, there is no reason not to give it a shot. 

Product Review: HoneyMaxx

*Disclaimer:  I was provided product in exchange for an unbiased review

 

20130515_164741.jpg

I was excited when I was first contacted by HoneyMaxx to give their product a review.  As a health conscious athlete an all natural sports drink that would possibly increase my performance was a dream come true!  I've now been testing HoneyMaxx for about 2 weeks now alternating it with my normal nutrition to see if there was a noticeable difference with either an increase or decline in performance.  Unfortunately for me I got a batch of Orange, which I'm not a huge fan of, I would have much rather tested the lemon-lime flavor but that is my fault for not giving a preference.  

Well rounded nutrition panel

Well rounded nutrition panel

Ride 1:  My first experience didn't start out great, as I really dislike orange flavored sports drinks.  I took 2 scoops in a 24 oz bottle as I was only riding 2 hours and I didn't need any more nutrition then that.  Since HoneyMaxx is honey based it does not dissolve as easily as sugar based nutrition.   I didn't realize this and not only were my first sips orange, but a very watered down orange.  On the other hand the longer the solution sat in my water bottle, the better it tasted and by the end of my ride I actually started to enjoy the orange flavor with a hint of honey.   
 

My first test was an interval workout.  During my ride I experienced a constant stream of energy with no spikes or crashes however I was still feeling the workouts from the previous few days, including the providence half marathon which I raced hard.    I wasn't expecting any super human performances 3 days after a hard race, and I didn't get any which wasn't a surprise.  

Ride 2: After getting used to the flavor on my first ride I was excited to try and see what I would do with a little more recovery and a different workout on a similar route.   While I rode the same exact route as I did on Tuesday to compare it was a different workout as I was pushing a 20 minute interval on Tuesdays workout, where I was just aiming for a steady state ride on Friday.  My average wattage was slightly lower on Fridays workout with HoneyMaxx with my peak 20 minute power being 277 vs 301 on Tuesday when I was pushing. My ride with Honeymaxx was only 20 seconds slower giving me an average speed of 20.5, instead of the 20.6 I averaged on Tuesday.  I came away from this ride more than pleased with my performance and the performance of HoneyMaxx, I even started to acquire a taste for the orange flavor.  As I noted in my first ride the longer it sits in the bottle, the better it tastes!

Ride 3: My third ride was an absolute nightmare, though I don't believe it had anything to do with HoneyMaxx.  It was the first time all year I had to deal with hot and humid temperatures, and I do not do well in heat.  With an observed high of 86 degrees that came out of nowhere I was doomed from the start.  I just seem to melt in the heat and so far there has been nothing that has allowed me to combat that, unfortunately for me HoneyMaxx was no different.  I finished my ride much slower than normal with an average power about 30 watts off a normal ride.  I also found myself spraying myself down with my garden hose because the heat was so unbearable when I got home from riding.  If I was ever to use HoneyMaxx in a race, I would definitely need to supplement with extra electrolytes, however that is no different than any other sports drink on the market.  On the bright side even in the heat the taste did not go sour,  as warm as it got the flavor did not get any worse.

Ride 4:  This ended up being an indoor ride at the last minute.  Low 40 degree temperatures combined with rain forced me inside in to a computrainer studio for the first time in months.  HoneyMaxx kept me hydrated indoors just as well as outdoors and  once again delivered a steady energy performance.  It allowed me to hit my workout goals on the bike and even provide me with enough energy to run a few miles easily after a tough 90 minute ride. My max 20 minute power on this ride as 303 watts (3.9 watts/kg), which was the highest I had seen with HoneyMaxx, and slightly higher than the 301 watts that I had achieved 2 weeks prior with my normal sports drink in a normal workout, non testing setting.

Ride 5:   This ride was in the pouring rain and in the low 50's.  I  loaded up my bottle more than normal with 4 scoops to see if anything would be different.  I only ended up being out for about 90 minutes because I felt the rain was getting to the point where it was making my ride dangerous so I called it a day.  Again nothing really to note here, the drink performed well in the conditions given.   Since my ride was cut short I certainly could have gotten by without any nutrition, but I did have a few swigs from my bottle.  In addition the fuel that I took in allowed me to rip off a nice paced 5 mile brick run off the bike consuming absolutely nothing until I got home.  

Ride 6:  I went back to my interval workout that I first attempted with HoneyMaxx a few weeks later, I was extremely pleased with how I was able to hold a steady power throughout my interval, and recover in time enough in time to do it again.  In between each interval I would have a swig from my bottle.  After my intervals I continued on and rode another 20 miles because it was such a nice day for a change and I just wanted to ride, HoneyMaxx again provided me with a consistent energy source for my whole training session. 

Overall: 8/10

Pros:  

1. The biggest pro is that the drink is honey based instead of sugar with only 7 grams of sugars vs the 16 grams or more that you normally see in other leading sports drinks.   

2.  The fact that it takes a long time to dissolve can also be considered a positive as you can use the mixture to possibly create a gel for use while running.  

3. Consistent energy from a drink that doesn't create any peaks and valleys.  Not having to worry about crashing and bonking is key!  

4.  At roughly $1.10 a serving it's pricing is in line with several other top brands, it's slightly more expensive, however you can likely get away with using less product since using the product does not create the spikes that sugar based products do.  

Cons:

1. Not enough electrolytes (for me) for hot days

2. Takes a long time to dissolve, making bottles hard to clean after use.  

3.  This is a personal preference, but the orange flavor, as much as the taste become acquired over prolonged use I'm still not a fan.  I usually race and train with exclusively lemon-lime sports drinks as long as I can help it. 

While I can't provide any empirical evidence that HoneyMaxx is better than your current sports drink I can't say it's any worse either.  In my testing I got consistent results using both my normal go to training drink and HoneyMaxx that proved they were on the same playing field.  Given that information a seriously health conscious athlete might want to chose HoneyMaxx just for the simple fact it has less sugar and provides the same results.  In all HoneyMaxx is an exciting alternative to your traditional sugar based cocktail and definitely worth a look.  

 

 

Sometimes the powder might not dissolve if you concentrate the solution too much. 

Sometimes the powder might not dissolve if you concentrate the solution too much. 

Product Review: HUUB Archimedes 3:5

When I received word that I would be part of the HUUB family in 2013  I was beyond excited as I have heard nothing but good things about the company itself and its products.  The best way to explain it is by watching company owner Dean Jackson explain it here.  The suit itself comes in two buoyancies a 3:5 meaning the legs have a thicker neoprene than the upper body, and a 4:4 meaning both parts are evenly split with a 4mm neoprene covering.  Those with a swimming background are more likely to be better suited by a 4:4 and those like me who do not have one, or who seem to swim faster with a pull buoy should opt for a 3:5.

suit_01.jpg

The suit itself is very appealing as well as intimidating for the competition. The first time I tried it on it slipped right on easily, and was amazingly comfortable for a piece of equipment that is usually the most uncomfortable for most triathletes.  In fact for the first time in my triathlon career I didn't look like a stuffed sausage wile wearing it.   While testing the suit the head lifeguard at the pool told me I looked like a superhero in the suit.  Secretly I was hoping I was going to feel like one once I got in the pool and started to swim with it.  It probably wasn't the best day to to a test as I was already wiped from riding 75 miles and running 6 earlier in the day, however the time savings per 100/yd are likely to be similar no matter how tired or fresh I am.  

Since I was a little tired from the day's activities I only did a 500 yd warm-up but in reality that is all that was needed on the day.  I also decided because I was tired I was going to do my intervals on 2:00 instead if the 1:45 that I tested swim skin the other week.  I did 4 sets of 100 yd in a 25 yd pool at a moderately hard repeatable effort.

Without Suit: 1:14 1:14 1:15 1:15

HUUB Archimedes 3:5 - 1:08, 1:08, 1:08, 1:09

That gave me an average savings of 6.25 seconds per 100 with the suit vs without. In the suit I definitely noticed the bicep release panels allowed more freedom and feel that over a longer swim, they would definitely reduce fatigue.  I didn't necessarily notice the x-o skeleton that prevents you from crossing over, but I don't really think I have an issue with that in the first place, the savings for me comes from keeping my  hips higher in the water where they belong since my cyclist legs tend to sink.

I decided to do my cool down in the suit to see what would happen when I gave a light effort.   I swam another 4 100's as my cool down, but the effort given was slim.  I was able to hit 1:15 on every repeat, which was my moderate hard pace without the suit!  The fact that I could hit a 1:15 and not give much effort that would allow me to save my energy for the bike and run which I am personally much better at. This was the huge selling point for me.  In addition taking the suit off on the pool deck took me only 30 seconds so the calf release definitely helped to do what it was supposed to. That is important because every second counts, after making team USA by only 2 seconds last year, I am more aware of that than ever.  I probably would have been able to get out a bit more quickly but I did have a massive cramp in my thigh which was my own fault for not properly hydrating throughout the day.

The only complaint I have is that the back of the suit is a little too open and lets in too much water for my liking, but I'm not sure that would happen in an open water situation which is where I would be using the suit anyway.  Without flip turns there isn't really a reason that would happen.  Overall I give the suit a 4.5 our of 5.  And I am extremely happy to be part of team HUUB!

The true test will be in Knoxville next weekend when I break the suit out in open water for the first time.  If I am out of the water in under 30 mins, I will be super happy!  

Product Review: Aquasphere Energize Compression Speedsuit

Last year as one of the perks of being part of the Endurance Films racing team I got an Energize Compression Speed Suit courtesy of Aquasphere.   Since I didn't really have any races that were not going to be wet suit legal I didn't really use it.   However with race season approaching this year and being in relatively decent swim shape I decided to give it a test run and see what the differences would be on 100 yard repeats, if any, since I could possibly need it this year.  

energize_speedsuit_men.jpg

I started off with a good 1000 yd warm up and decided that leaving the wall on 1:45 would be a suitable interval with adequate rest given my current swim fitness.  I did 4 sets of 4 x 100, alternating between swimming with the suit and without it.  All 100's were done at a moderately hard effort and on a 1:45 base in a 25 yard pool.  My test results were as follows:

Without- 1:16, 1:17, 1:16, 1:17

Energize Compression- 1:11, 1:13, 1:11, 1:12

Without- 1:14,1:17, 1:17, 1:17

 Energize Compression- 1:12 1:14, 1:15, 1:15

While I started to fatigue towards the end my average time savings was still 3.5 seconds per 100.  I was actually quite shocked at how much more buoyant I felt with the suit on, as opposed to not having it on.  It was definitely a noticeable difference, and exposed just how much I still need to work on my body position.  I had no chafing issues and overall the suit was comfortable and barely noticeable while swimming without the obvious extra buoyancy feeling.  Even though I was wearing an extra suit, I didn't feel too much warmer, which is also a plus.    

The one negative I have with the suit was getting it off took me quite a bit of time.  It might have had something to do with me putting it on while wet but the zipper got caught in the material both times causing me to have to ask the lifeguard for assistance. That is not a big deal when swimming in a pool, but when racing and trying to have a quick transition the last thing you need is a zipper that sticks.  However, once the zipper was undone the suit quickly slid right off which could make for a quick transition.

Overall I was happy with the performance of the suit with the exception of the zipper difficulty.  At 3.5 seconds per 100 this suit would save me almost a minute in an Olympic distance triathlon as long as I could get it off without any issues.  Without zipper issues I can't see this suit taking more than 10 seconds to take off.  I am going to follow up testing the zipper after putting it on dry to see if there are any issues.   While the suit saves me 3.5 seconds per 100 yards,  someone who is a slower swimmer will likely get more of a benefit. 

*7/31/13 Edit

I used this suit in my most recent non-wetsuit legal swim, I had no issue getting the suit off and I went from a 26:16 to 23:51 on the same course setting a non wetsuit PR for an Olympic distance swim. 

Product Review: Sweatvac Winter Headband

I received one of these as a member of the Endurance Films racing team and I honestly couldn't have been happier that this was one of the items they provided us with.  Over the last two years I have used this sweatvac headband on countless runs and in at least a dozen winter running races without fail.  

Winter Headband - Black

I have been able to run with this headband down to 15 degrees and it has kept my ears warm and toasty without causing me to overheat.  I tend to generate a lot of heat when I am training, especially running, so a typical beanie isn't an option unless it is REALLY cold. No matter how much I sweat I can never tell how wet the band actually is until I go to take it off after a run. Furthermore if at any time I need to take it off because it is too hot during a run I can simply put it around my wrist in a figure eight, which is simple enough that it can be done while running and without slowing down.  

Throughout all of my training and racing over the last two years I have yet to have any issues with movement or chafing and it has been through the wash more times than I can count.  It still even looks brand new!  I wouldn't change a thing about it, perfect in every way.

After two years of use it still shines like new!

After two years of use it still shines like new!

Product Review: Skora Base

Disclaimer:  Since I have received these shoes and written my review I have been asked to be an Ambassador for SKORA.  

In early December I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a newer running company to test a pair of their shoes out.  While SKORA has only been selling shoes for a majority of 2012 they have been around for quite some time in an effort to make their product the best in the industry and it shows.   SKORA comes from the polish word for skin and that is exactly what they try to replicate with their minimalist shoe line.

I was impressed with the attention to detail right out of the Fed-Ex  box.  The slim, clean-cut box gives you the impression you are about to open something special, and in my opinion you certainly are. The magnetic seal is definitely a nice touch and certainly makes the box a bit more elegant.

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The Base comes in three color schemes.  A bright yellow,  black and silver.  I ordered the shoes in yellow, not only because I like yellow, but because they stick out.  If I was going to be testing out these shoes I wanted people to ask me about them so I would be forced to answer questions that I might not have thought about on my own.  Right out of the box I put them on and immediately fell in love.  I walked around my house in them and did not want to take them off, they were super comfortable.  I felt like I was putting on a pair of slippers instead of a pair of running shoes! After about 10 minutes I took them off and put them back in the box until I was ready to put my first miles on them.  The straps system is a nice touch.  Especially for triathletes that will typically swap out laces for EZ laces for speed of transition.

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At the current moment SKORA's are not available in a large amount of running stores so you have to order them online.  Another nice touch is the Prepaid Return label so that you can ship them back to the company for a different size as long as they have not been run in outside.  Sizing for me seemed to be true to my current size but you can always check with the folks at SKORA before ordering and they are more than happy to help with any sizing or other questions you might have.

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Prepaid Return Labels is a nice touch.

Nice Flexible Sole!

Nice Flexible Sole!

Run 1:  Outside: At first walking outside in them felt a little awkward, the curved out sole and curved forefoot gave the shoe a little bit of a roll factor but once I got going and running that roll factor dissipated quickly.  I could feel the ground underneath my feet but securely.  One thing I immediately noticed was the great grip on the ground I was getting.  It happened to be an extremely foggy night, with a light misting as well as wet ground.  I was pleasantly surprised that I had some noticeable extra grip that I normally didn't get with my running shoes.

Run 2:  Treadmill: This was my first attempt at running fast in them as well as on tired legs.  I ran after a hard bike workout on the treadmill.  Once again that roll factor disappeared as soon as I started running and it felt natural to be running.  The one thing I made the mistake of was running in thick socks.  My feet got a bit hotter than usual however there were no issues with hot spots or chafing, so it really wasn't a big deal.

Run 3 & 4: Race: I took them out for a spin at my first race since getting them.  Showing up with the bright yellow shoes had some athletes talking since they had never seen the shoes before.  I got asked a few questions about them as well as got a little heckling.  One athlete said something along the lines of with shoes that bright you better hope you win.  Once the race started I started off in the front of the pack with another runner that I knew I would be going head to head with for the overall title.  We were shoulder to shoulder almost the entire race with the exception of some of the turns where one of us wound up slightly ahead of the other, he eventually broke away for good but I ended up holding on to second place.  I enjoyed the real feel and It led me to a new 5k PR!  Afterwords I still had to get the rest of my miles in so I ran another 8 miles once I got home at a nice comfortable pace for a total of 13+ miles without any issues.

January & February: Since I received the shoes from SKORA I have had them in my rotation and haven't looked back.  I fell in love and use them a few times a week rotating them with Brooks Green Silence. I've run in rain, ice, snow, and even in the heat of Florida when I went to go visit family.    I have run around 200 miles in the base alone and these will definitely be my go to shoe for my short course racing this year!

After 200 miles on a comparable shoe, they hold up quite well!

After 200 miles on a comparable shoe, they hold up quite well!

Product Review: Brooks Green Silence

Product Review: Brooks Green Silence

Today I got my first pair of the new Brooks Green Silence delivered and I couldn't have been more excited to take them for a test spin. They arrived just in time for this weeks tempo run and I couldn't have been happier.

Sizing:

From reading other peoples reviews of the shoes I was a little nervous ordering since I normally run in a 11.5 EE Beast, but most reviews alluded to the fact that the shoes ran a bit big, so I just stayed with my 11.5 and they fit like a glove, my guess would be most people should go down a size.

Look:

unfortunately if you want to run in the silence, you are stuck with the obnoxious yellow and red colors. It's a very bold look and it might turn some people off, but I would suggest taking them for a test run before looking elsewhere. You might be pleasantly surprised at the comfort.

Comfort:

For a "racing flat" I found these extremely comfortable, in fact even more so than the super cushy beast I normally run in.

Weight:

They are listed at 6.9 ounces which is only slightly more than the 6.1 oz of the Vibrams, with a world of difference on the comfort & protection level. I run exclusively in Brooks, with the exception of the Vibram FiveFingers, and I'm always able to run in the new shoes right out of the box and I felt there was no reason to do anything differently with these.

On to the test, my first 2 miles were supposed to be a warm up and according to my pace it didn't seem like it but now looking back at my heart rate it certainly was. These shoes just want to go fast. My first mile was a 7:16 and I figured I would probably slow down a bit since the second mile has a few big hills however I only ended up running 2 seconds slower. Now my workout was supposed to be a 15 minute warm up followed by 30 mins of tempo so after I hit the 15 minute mark I started to push the pace to see how I would feel. As I started to pick up the pace, the shoes seemed to respond nicely and I felt very "springy". I have recently learned to run more on my forefoot because of the Vibram's and I could translate that skill very well into running in the silence. I felt like I was actually running on a cloud, but I was still able to keep a minimal feel of the pavement below me which I am not able to do in the Beast. The lightness of the shoe coupled with the minimal lateral support allowed me to focus on the forefoot strike and keep away from heel striking.

My initial thoughts were positive however, I don't see this as that much of a minimalist shoe. If your looking for something like the Vibram Five Fingers where you can feel everything this isn't the shoe for you. However, I can see how this shoe can be a great compliment to the Five Fingers by switching back and forth. You definitely don't get the same road feel you do from the Vibrams, but you also get a bit more protection, so you don't feel everything. It's a good shoe to run in the day after and practice the technique you learn from the Vibrams, because you can still slightly feel the road, and know if your running properly.

I originally ordered these shoes because I wanted to run my upcoming Triathlons in the Five Fingers, but I felt the transition time would take to long, so I wanted a minimalist shoe like a Nike Free, and after one run I'm convinced I found it. I was able to run what I felt was an effortless tempo run with every mile faster than the one before. The more comfortable I got with the shoes the faster I was able to run in them. In fact at one point I was so comfortable I almost forgot I was doing a tempo run and let my pace slip slightly!! I'm convinced and I will be racing in them for the first time next weekend and see what I can do in at my first sprint triathlon of the year.

Workout Details:

Mile 1: 7:16 HR 138

Mile 2: 7:18 HR 145

Mile 3: 6:55 HR 155

Mile 4: 6:38 HR 158

Mile 5: 6:36 HR 170

Mile 6 6:28 HR 191

Mile 7 6:23 HR 186

Mile .25: 6:01 HR 183

Total Workout: 7.25miles, 6:44 per mile pace, Average HR 163