Mar 24, 2018

Support Yourself: KT Tape Review | #BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received a KT Tape to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

We all get bumped up over time. Some of use even get busted up. When those times happen, you just need a little extra support and a little relief. One strong option to give a try is KT Tape. Read on for more plus a great discount.

What is KT Tape?

KT Tape is an elastic sports tape. It is designed to relieve pain and support your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. How does it work you ask? Well, I'll leave it, best said to those who make it:
When an area of the body is injured through impact or over-use, the lymphatic fluid builds up causing inflammation and swelling. This accumulation of lymphatic fluids may cause increased pressure on muscles and tissue which can cause significant discomfort or pain.

It is believed that when applied correctly, KT Tape lifts the skin, decompressing the layers of fascia, allowing for greater movement of lymphatic fluid which transports white blood cells throughout the body and removes waste products, cellular debris, and bacteria.
KT Tape is made to reduce pressure to the tissue and may reduce discomfort or pain. When applied correctly, the taping also provides support to muscles improving their ability to contract and helps the muscle to not over-extend or over-contract.

Lots o' Tape

There are so many types of KT Tape to fit your personal needs. I was lucky enough to get to test several of the varieties for you. I want to give you the basics about some of your options, to help you find what may work best for you. All of the tapes are available in precut strips with rounded corners, to make application easy.

KT Tape Cotton

This is the original KT Tape. This cotton based tape is designed to last for 1 - 3 days through multiple workouts. It is also designed to stay on in water. I prefer some of the stronger varieties, but there's nothing wrong with a classic. It's great when you need that extra support that you'll get with KT Tape, but don't require or want as long of an adhesive time or strength.

KT Tape Pro

This tape is one I know well and have used periodically over the past several years. This is the tape you want for more support and to put up with your tougher workouts. It is the world's only 100% synthetic kinesiology tape. It's designed to last up to 7 days when applied correctly and will stand up to several tough workouts, showers, humidity, and even the pool. This tape I can say I've thoroughly tested on my wife and myself on feet, knees, backs and more, all to great success.

KT Tape Pro Wide

The wide tape is the same synthetic Pro tape we've just talked about, but with twice the width. This is designed on purpose for targeting the lower back, shoulders and other large muscle groups like your quads. It measures 4" wide by 10" long in pre-cut strips. Even with it's wide with, it's designed to last for 4 - 7 days of wear. I tested this on my wife's lower back. It worked well, but applying it is a little tricky. I'm used to applying the normal width tape and with some practice I'm sure this will get easier. I think this would be fantastic the next time I need it for shoulder muscle pain.

KT Tape Pro Extreme

This is the suped up version of the Pro tape. It's made with an extra strong adhesive to take the roughest and toughest workouts and the most extreme conditions. It's water resistant and make for 4 - 7 days of wear. The adhesive is designed "to help with adhesion during strenuous activity through extreme conditions including wet conditions, high heat, high humidity or oily skin." I've tested this tape and love it as well. Sometimes you may be applying tape to get through a workout or a weekend, but sometimes you really want it to last. This is the tape for you. We've taped my wife's knee with this tape and it lasted a full week of activity, showers, and kids successfully with no issues.

KT Tape Gentle

The last tape I tested was their Gentle Tape. This special tape is 100% latex free and designed with gentler adhesive for easier removal. It's ideal for those with sensitive skin. It's still designed for 1 - 3 days of wear and stand up to lighter workouts, providing the same support and elasticity to your muscle.

Tips for Application

It's important to know that proper application can make all the difference, so it may take some practice. While it may take several tries before you fully get the hang of it, there are some steps you can take to improve your application.

1. Clean the area for application.
1.b. If it's extra hairy, consider shaving the area.

2. Follow the directs from beginning to end before starting to apply, so you're prepared.

3. Rub the tape afterwards. The friction helps the adhesive set.

Get Some Tape and SAVE

Want some KT Tape for yourself? Save with promo code BIBRAVE30 and get 30% off your order! This offer is amazing and one of the best discounts I've seen on KT Tape.

Feb 16, 2018

Your New Running Experience: UA HOVR Sonic Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received a Under Armor HOVR Sonic running shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Under Armor is a brand I enjoy. I've always had good experiences with their gear, feeling high quality. However until now my experiences have been limited to clothing apparel. For this reason, I was really excited to get a chance to try out a pair of their running shoes.

Tell me about the shoes

The shoes are from their newest (as in just released) HOVR line. I in particular got to put the HOVR Sonic through their paces, which they reported to me on (more on that later). The features of the shoes truly are the latest in shoes. They have a "compression energy web" that molds with the UA HOVR foam to bounce back and return energy to you. Not only are the materials and design high tech, so are the heels. Or more specifically, in the heels. The UA HOVR shoes are connected shoes, collecting data on your run and then syncing that data back to your phone.

Tell me how they feel

These shoes feel great. I'll start with one of my interestingly favorite parts of the shoes: the top. The microthread upper is light, it breathes, and has this compression like feel to it. It feels very natural wrapping around the top but has a good grip to it that I really like. The breathe really well, so I'm looking forward to how this feels in the summer, as I've been using these through a chilly spell here in Virginia. The cushion of the shoe is comfortable as well. It feels good on the foot, great while running, no rubbing, hot spots, or soreness after. I took the shoes through a bunch of short runs and they felt great every time. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take them on longer runs, since that's just not where my level of fitness is right now. As we get into the spring, I'll be sure to give them more distance to see how they hold up.

Tell me about the technology


Being the big geek that I am, I love that these have tech and connect to my phone. Syncing them up was super easy with the Under Armor Map My Run app. From there, they immediately updated my shoes. I must say, that was a first, even for me. After that, you're ready to go. They even offer up a jump test. This helps set a base line for you, so that you can perform it with your runs to see your level of fatigue. This is also a really cool feature of the shoes and the app combined. With the shoes, you get a full year of Map My Run MVP, which is their premium features of the app. This offers a lot of cool features, but some of my favorites are power analysis, cadence analysis, and training plans.

You can run with the shoes one of two ways. You can use Map My Run to track your run, which will use the GPS of your phone while also tracking the data from your shoes. Additionally, you can run without your phone and sync the data afterwards, which is a cool option especially if you use a GPS watch. I love looking at all the extra data in the app. I may not always know what to do with it, but I love the most amount of data I can get. Looking at the cadence is really interesting. Since I use the run walk run method, my cadence has a lot of variability in it, but in reality, it's great because it's easy to visualize my run cadence and walk cadence. It also makes it easy to identify any areas I was going a little slower, maybe daydreaming during my walk portions, which I am apt to do.

Tell me the big picture

In the end, these are a great pair of running shoes. I love the connected tech and all the extra data. I do enjoy that I can still track with my watch, but then sync and get the extra data afterwards. They're very comfortable and I love the breathability. I look forward to testing these out in warmer temperatures and over longer distances, to see how they work out for me. My only hold back on them is I was given the white model, which I've been trying way to hard to keep looking good. I'm not a white shoe type of person. Once I get past that, we'll be good, haha.

Jan 24, 2018

Athlinks: Build Your Race Profile | BibRavePro

Do you have a great home with all of the races you've run and how you've done? Do you have a place that celebrates all of those accomplishments? Do you have a way to see all this, without crunching data found in columns and rows upon rows of a spreadsheet? Can you find your rivals across races and boost your competitive side? Would you like to?

Enter Athlinks.

What is Athlinks?

"But what is Athlinks?" I hear you saying. In one line, they say it best
Athlinks is the best way to track all of your race results in one place.
Athlinks offer a community where you can build out your runner profile. Registering was quick and easy. Once you have a profile created, you can easily claim your race results from years past. I'm not exaggerating. When I first logged it, it showed me 27 potential results.


All I had to do was click and claim which ones were me. As it turns out, there is another John Niedzwiecki up in New England, which is not me but was also one click to dismiss them. The results went all the way back to my very first race back in 2013, the Rockstar 8K!


It was super easy to go through and claim all my results and give a pass on those that are not mine. Once that was complete, I had a nice profile chock full of races and stats, resulting in this nice summary of my racing accomplishments, including personal records and racing statistics.

Community

Athlinks creates their own community around their motto of "Compete. Connect.". It's very easy to find and connect with others. You can add others as friends, finding people near you or those you already know (like me).


Adding friends is great, but then Athlinks will start showing you your rivals. It will show you people you've raced against from your friends, giving you a win-loss record. From there you can look into your competition deeper, seeing individual races and your time differential.


I see rivals sort of like a "friendly archnemis" and I like that. My most embattled so far would be Katie, who I'm currently losing to. I'll have to change that in the future 😉

Plan 2018

Another great thing you can do is select your upcoming races. You can let your friends (and rivals) know where you'll be. It's easy to search for event. You can start by clicking into the search box and quickly finding races by name with autocomplete. Otherwise, you can also select "Events" from the "Quick Links" to provide you a larger search interface.


From here, you can use date range, location, and categories to find any of the events you want to race. When you find the race you'll be running, you can click the name to view the details of the event. You can browse past years results and even filter by name and bib number. For the upcoming races, you can "Join The Start List" on the right hand side. From there, you can select the race if there's multiple distances, add a goal time, and set a goal or other message.


Once that's done, it will appear on your profile and for your friends under "Friend's Upcoming Events". It's a great way to see where people are planning to run, and maybe decide to join your friends on the road or trails.

Takeaway

This is a great new site, in my opinion. I love seeing my race results without needing to manually put it all together on my own. I love data but I love automation as well. It's fun to connect with friends and my fellow BibRavePros. Just like BibRave helps me to discover new races through reviews, this helps me discover races through my friend, which means you also don't need to run alone. Sign up today, join me, and check it out for yourself.


Dec 20, 2017

Training Tips: WDW Marathon Weekend | #CignaRunTogether

One of my all time favorite race weekends is Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. You have four races to choose from, two challenges, and four theme parks to see and run through. It holds a special place for me, not just because of my love of Disney but because it was my first half marathon ever back in 2014 and my first (and only) marathon in 2017. While I won’t be able to attend the weekend this year I was given some materials from Cigna, who sponsor the race weekend, which is why I fully listed it out as “presented by Cigna”. I think the resources they shared are really useful, so I thought it’d be interesting to share them with you leading up to the races.

Training Tips

Let's start with an important one: training. It's important to have a plan and stick to it. What a training plan looks like for everyone will differ person to person. The important thing to do is find a plan that works for you and stick to it. If you're running this marathon weekend, we'll assume you're pretty far into training. If you haven't been training, I've been there and good luck.

If you're running your first race, this article on preparing for your first race is a good quick read. The most important tip imho for everyone is to remember to have fun.

Cigna has 10 training tips for you, great for any race and training.


Next, let's look at some tips for getting the finish. Important for those of you who have trained... and if you haven't.


I hoped the tips help you out in your training. Come back for more tips. Upcoming will be nutrition and healthy recipes.

Nov 18, 2017

Healthy Warrior Chia Bars Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received a Healthy Warrior Chia Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I struggle sometimes to find healthy snack. It's important to have something healthy and easy. The latest product I received the opportunity to try is Healthy Warrior Chia Bars. I'll open with some honesty, I was a little hesitant about the bars. I was not sure if I would actually like the chia. However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

What did I get to try?

I received two flavors of bars to try: chocolate peanut butter and vanilla almond. They're a great healthy choice. They're full of the "good stuff". They are certified gluten-free, non-GMO project certified, soy free, dairy free, and 100% vegan. They're low in sugar, high in fiber, and include protein to help keep you full. That's a whole lot of good stuff in a ~100 calorie package.

How did they taste?

As I mentioned, I was hesitant but pleasantly surprised. The chocolate peanut butter is good. I'm not going to say it tastes like a candy bar, but for as healthy as it is, it is quite tasty. It's just enough sweetness to make it not fully taste like the super health bar that it is. The second flavor, vanilla almond, is also tasty. I don't know that I necessarily taste almond, but it was a good and a little more subtle flavor.


The one thing with both of them for me that I wasn't 100% all about was the texture. The little tiny chia bits makes for a different texture. It's not bad, just different. I'm not huge on it, but very it makes for a very healthy and tasty bar.

The Takeaway

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with them. Texture aside, I enjoyed the bars. I quickly found these being a go-to snack for me during the work day. They're quick, easy, healthy, and fit well into my food tracking. I've tried plenty of "healthy" foods before to various levels of tasty. These are definitely higher on the list, with probably the best tasty to healthy ratio with how super healthy they are. I am happy I took the chance to try out these bars.

Freebie

Who doesn't like a freebie? Well, if you order now, you can get a free coloring book if you follow the this special link and order. It's a fun runner's coloring book just for you. If you can't even think of the last time you colored, you'd be surprised how relaxing it can be.


Oct 28, 2017

Know Where to Go with RunGo | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received a RunGo premium subscription to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

My day job is programming. It’s what I do and what I enjoy. What also comes along with that for me is a love of technology. I’m always all for combining tech with my running and fitness. The latest opportunity I received was a chance to review out the RunGo app with a premium subscription.

What does the app offer?

The heart of the RunGo app is GPS navigation for your run. Note, I didn’t just say tracking, I said navigation. The RunGo app centers around finding routes to run, then running those routes with turn-by-turn directions. It couldn’t be easier. When you open the app, it loads the local map and shows the routes. From here you can pick a route, download it locally, and then run it. As you run you’ll get turn-by-turn directions through your headphones, reminding you when to turn left, turn right, or even turn around for a u-turn. It will also provide you with all the standard data you expect when running: distance, pace, route pace and even some extras of points o interest and motivation, all of which are customizable to turn of if you’d rather not hear them.

How do I make routes of my own?

There are two ways to make routes. The easiest way is to go to https://www.rungoapp.com/ then click on Routes. Then you can login and click “Create a Route”. From there, you can start at / near your location, search a location or even import a GPX file from a previously tracked run. It’s easy click on the map to add points. As you do, you’ll see it add turn indicators, showing you how you’ll get turn-by-turn directions. It’s easy to add and remove points and you’ll see the total distance as you go, very helpful if you’re building a route for a target distance. The route will snap to the map, both to roads AND to trail markings on Google maps (which I was pleasantly surprised by). Additionally, if what you want isn’t on map, or you want to be a little more adventurous, you can turn of with the “Snap to” toggle, and it will draw straight lines between your points.


The map making offers deep features as well. You can add custom points, which includes entertainment, spectators, restrooms, first aid, water, and food. This could make for a great tool to build out race maps (take note race directors). You also have the ability to add your own points of interest. You can point out an awesome mural you run past, historic buildings, or maybe just a stop worth a quick break to see the view. This could make for walking or running tours, which is a fun possibility. The advanced options makes it easy to reverse the route or make it an out and back (so you don’t have to click all the way through in reverse. Overall, the route builder is easy to use but also powerful.


The second way to make a route is by doing. You can open the app and say “Run Without Route”. This will track your run. When you finish the run, you’ll be given the option to “Save as Route, where you can give it a name, description, and choose to make it private. This makes for quick and easy conversion, much like if you would import a GPX file tracked by another app or watch.

How does the app work?

The route builder is great, but how is the app? The app itself is pretty good, but feels early. Running with a route is easy. The turn-by-turn directions are nice, provided you have headphones. The tracking was on par with any phone based tracking, sometimes good, sometimes a little off, but thats more down to whether the phone itself is getting good GPS signal. It was on par with other tracking apps as I’ve used them. The app itself is pretty simple. It opens to the map, local to you and shows the nearest route. Clicking the route allows you to download it. However, it’s not always user friendly. I thought I’d be able to find my profile to see my routes, but you only ever see a “Login” option in the menu. If you’re logged in, it will say login, but if you click it, it will tell you who you’re logged in as. One addition I don’t remember when I first used the app is the ability to create a route on your phone. It works like the web page, just click to add points. I think it’s much easier to be precise on the web which is my preferred method to make a route, but this works in a pinch.

I’ve been running the app on my Android phone, a Google Pixel XL. That means its a higher end phone with the latest Android. I did have the occasional crash, but usually only when browsing around the app, not while running. It was also usually when browsing the app, going away, and coming back.

One feature I couldn’t test but looks cool the ability to use the app on an Apple Watch. I think as an app, this is perfect for a watch with turn-by-turn directions. With the watch series 2, you can run it without a phone. The app works with Apple Watch Series 1, but you’ll need an iPhone with it. If any of you have used it with your watch, let me know how it was.

While I did mention the web based route builder is great, it is of note that when you first go to the homepage it’s unclear how or where to log in. A small change by adding a login link would help. Instead you need to first click on Routes to get to that section of the web site.

What features are “premium”?

I mentioned having a premium membership, so what features and extras do you get as a premium member, for $10 a year? First you can create groups, allowing you to all track progress together, private to the group. This would be great for a local running group or just your running buddies. You can access to premium verified routes, good for traveling if you feel uneasy with general public created routes. These show up as orange pins, though a filter option on the app would be nice.

There are some other great features, except they seem to be iPhone only at this time (as my app doesn’t have them). First is the ability to live track your run with your family. I do this through other apps, because it is a great piece of mind for me for safety, and a worth while feature. Second is the ability to set intervals for training. You can use this for run walk intervals like I use with the Jeff Galloway program or as reminders for fuel and hydration.

The Takeaway

Overall, I think the app takes a great feature missing from most other running apps and programs, and does it fantastically. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to switch it up and run somewhere new so I try to plan a route out, figure it out to the right approximate distance, and then try to commit it to memory. That doesn’t often work well, unless it happens to be a very simple route. This allows me to have more complex routes and in locations I’m less familiar with like right now as I write this from across the country as I travel for work. I think it is a great app worth checking out, and I hope to see some more of the features coming to Android.

BIBCHAT

Join me for #BibChat on Tuesday, October 31st at 8pm central. The BibRave team will be there with the RunGo team, we’ll have lots of great questions and chatter, and as always, there will be giveaways.

Oct 26, 2017

Nuun Performance | #TeamNuun

I love getting the opportunity to be a member of Team Nuun. My #nuunlove is no secret. Being a part of Team Nuun gives me the opportunity to hear about the new products when they come out. One of Nuun's newest products is Nuun Performance. I recently tried it out with my training and the Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon. I meant to write a post when Nuun Performance first launched, but felt that writing now with my personal experience on it was appropriate.

What is Nuun Performance?

Nuun Performance is Nuun's latest hydration product. Nuun Performance is different from the rest in several ways. First it is a blend of electrolytes and carbohydrates for balanced nutrition. This balance is intended to keep you hydrated while offering easily absorbed carbohydrates to fuel your longer workouts, intend for strenuous sessions lasting over 90 minutes. Second, Nuun Performance is made with dried fruit powder. This is intended to offer you the purest forms of ingredients. Third, this means the mix is a powdered form, instead of the usually Nuun form of a tablet. This offers the added benefit of allowing you to get exactly the ratio right for you.

* 3-3.5% ratio of carb to water and an osmolality of 250 mosm is ideal for hard effort

Nuun Performance is a Non-GMO Project verified. It is made from only certified non-gmo ingredients.
  • dextrose: carbohydrate that works with sodium to aid in fluid transport
  • cane sugar (vegan): a carbohydrate that works with dextrose and sodium to aid in fluid delivery
  • dried fruit powder: pure clean flavoring without fillers
  • sodium citrate: electrolyte that helps retain fluids
  • citric acid: helps stabilize flavoring and provides a crisp taste
  • potassium citrate: electrolyte that helps with fluid balance
  • potassium chloride: electrolyte, in the form that is most absorbable during exercise
  • magnesium citrate: electrolyte that aids in muscle function
  • calcium citrate: electrolyte that aids in muscle and bone function

How does it work?

I used the Blueberry Strawberry Nuun Performance in my Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon. Long story short, I liked it. The flavor is good, though not as strong as I personally like. I like the powder mix, I works well, dissolving easily. One thing I really like about it is since it's not the tablet, you don't have the little bit of pressure that can build up. With all my other Nuun, that goes away after a short bit, but you don't have that fact at all here. Also, one of my packets were more of a solid clump than a powder (which is normal if exposed to too much heat or humidity) but had no problem dissolving still, and is still as effective (per the Nuun website).


The carbs in it were nice. Now, I'm not exactly a "high performing" athlete, but I work hard. I put my all into it. And my big body needs fuel I know what my body normally needs throughout longer runs and what it feels like when I don't have enough. I could definitely notice a different when having Nuun Performance with me than when I haven't in the past. It also helped my stomach not feel as empty or "sloshy" (for lack of a better way to say it). You still need other carbs, to get the right balance and full amount your body needs, but this lessens what you need to take in.

Takeaway

Overall, Nuun Performance worked for me. My non-scientific results is that I felt good with it, better than my long runs without it, which is enough for me. If you tend on the longer side of workouts, and looking for a solution to keep you hydrated but also are concerned with your carbs, give Nuun Performance a try.