gear

Trying out the FlipBelt [Review and Discount Code!]

I am really picky about how stuff feels on my body when I run. If I’m carrying a water bottle with me, it has to be just right. If my shorts don’t fit the way I want them to, it can ruin my run. If the pockets I have hold my keys in a way that makes them jingle, I can’t think of anything else. I’m sorry, I’m fussy. And that’s why I get really excited when I find a product that works for me. The FlipBelt falls into that category.

I’d been hearing a lot about the FlipBelt over the past few months, so I jumped at the opportunity to review it when it came up through Sweat Pink. I’ve tried a couple different running belts, one made by Nathan, and one by Amphipod, and although they’d been okay, I always felt like it would have been nice to have something that didn’t ride up or bounce around, and that held more without getting bulky. The FlipBelt, with its wide, unique design, looked like it would fit the bill.

The FlipBelt, post-run.

The FlipBelt, post-run.

Before getting into my review, let me describe the FlipBelt. Like I said, it’s a wide band that you step into and wear around your waist. It comes in different sizes so that it fits a range of bodies, and so that you have a bit of freedom in deciding where on your body you want it to sit. I like it lower on my waist, just above my hips. It’s got four slits in it, distributed around the belt, where you can slip in whatever you want to carry with you–money, your phone, your ipod, keys, etc. (And yes, I do have both a phone and an ipod, thank you.) The entire band is completely open, so there’s potential for the belt to hold a lot. And to make your life extra easy, it’s got a little hook on a cord that you can clip your keys onto so that there’s no risk of them falling out. Once you’ve stashed all your goodies, you can flip the belt so that the slits are on the inside of the band and nothing will fall out. Of course, you can also keep the belt turned with the slits facing out so that you can access your stuff more easily (the design is such that I don’t think there’s a huge risk of things falling out). If you wanted, you could even flip the belt so that the slits were along the top edge of the belt. That would also be an easy-access option. To make things extra fun, the FlipBelt is available in a bunch of different colors. As you can see above, I went with a shade that’s hard to pull off: dark gray. What can I say? I can’t resist taking risks with fashion. I’m part of the avant-garde.

My keys are hooked in and completely secure.

My keys are hooked in and completely secure.

But enough about the design and features, let’s get to the good stuff, aka my opinions! Because the suspense is probably killing you, I’ll just come right out and say it: I like the FlipBelt a lot. I like that it lies flat, I like that it holds my stuff, and I especially like that it stays exactly where I want it to be. Before I used it, I was a little worried that the material would be hot and would cause me to sweat a lot and get my phone all wet. That didn’t happen at all. In fact, I didn’t have any problem with my stuff getting sweaty (and that was always a problem with the Nathan and Amphipod belts). Once I got all my stuff into the belt and flipped it, I didn’t think about it again until it was time to get my phone, keys, or some other item. Exactly the way it should be. I even used it to hold my stuff while walking the dog, which is something I never would have done with my other belts–they just weren’t comfortable enough to wear unless I really, really had to.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one small problem with the FlipBelt–once your stuff is in it, it’s not necessarily easy to get it out. I have a HTC 601, which is on the slightly larger side, and had to maneuver it out a little bit when I removed it from the belt. But with other belts, I always had to fiddle around just to get my phone to stay in the pouch along with my keys, so in my opinion this is a huge improvement. I’m also not sure how this particular problem could be avoided, and if it’s really something that might be a problem for you, you could always flip the belt around so that the slits where in a different place and your stuff was a little easier to get to.

I definitely recommend the FlipBelt, and even have a code for 10% off for anyone who wants to give one a try! From now until September 7, use code sweat33 for 10% off your entire FlipBelt purchase. Also, make sure to share the code with anyone you know who might also want to give the belt a try by tweeting about it:

Tweet: Run, play, explore with #FlipBelt! Use the code sweat33 for 10% OFF your entire purchase! http://ctt.ec/9fPaF+ @flipbelt @fitapproach

 

*Although I received the FlipBelt for free in exchange for a review, these opinions are entirely my own and would not differ had I purchased the FlipBelt with my own money.

Oh, thank Heaven

First run with the running skirt and I am in love! I mean it, I love this thing 🙂 I feel covered and comfortable. You do get some odd looks, though. Some of them are clearly, “Is she really running in a skirt?” kind of looks, which I really don’t care about because the people who are giving me those looks don’t look like they have run a day in their life and thus probably don’t know the obnoxiousness that is running in a pair of shorts that just don’t feel right no matter what you do. The others, though, are a bit more bothersome and are more along the lines of, “Ooooh, she’s running in a skirt…I wonder if I’ll be able to see her underwear if I look hard enough?” I mean, honestly. Grow up, men. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just that the warmer weather makes people a little more friendly and thus more likely to give you unexplained smiles (or are they leers?)…but I kind of doubt that that’s the case. Regardless, I enjoyed the experience, a full two thumbs up, and a hearty wish that I had more pairs so that I could run like a girl more often!

The run itself was good but the conditions were pretty rough, with killer wind on the way back, which is, of course, the exact time when you want to be fighting a head wind. I guess this is what I get for running by the Hudson, although it really felt at times like I was just running in place. It was that bad.

I also conveniently forgot to put Body Glide on my upper arm and I once again have a welt from that stupid nike+ armband (I HATE THAT THING). And oddly, my feet are killing me. This is a problem I haven’t really had before. All of a sudden, my shoes feel like they are tighter than usual, or something. I am getting chafing along the arch of my foot as well as on both of my pinkie toes. I am not tying my shoes tighter than I usually do, and I haven’t laced them differently either. They are also not new shoes, nor are they old. I have been running in this model for a while and ran the half-marathon in my current pair (in addition to multiple training runs) without a problem. This also happened on Tuesday but since my run was shorter, it bothered me less, and at the time it really only affected my left foot. After this run, though, both of my feet hurt in the same places. Has anyone else had a problem like this come up out of nowhere? I’m wondering if it has something to do with the warmer weather causing my feet to swell or something…that’s the only explanation I can think of, really. The pain really had an effect on my run. Around my fifth or sixth mile, it really started to set in (especially in my toes, which feel like they blistered or something–it is definitely a chafing issue and not something cramp-ish or anything like that) and I ended up taking a page out of Irish’s book and dissociating as much as I could just to get through my seven miles without having to stop. I managed, but I wish my feet felt a little better (obvs).

Anyhoo, I got in a 7.11 mile run (see, that’s where the post title comes from! Ha ha, I made an advertising-related joke!) which ain’t too shabby.

Total mileage this week: 11.31

My life in six words or less

I’ve been tagged by Chris, which means two things:

  1. Obviously, I have hit the big time as a blogger.
  2. I have to write a six-word memoir and tag five additional people. I’m not sure I know another five people to tag, since Chris has already tagged some of the other bloggers I know!

So here is my memoir. It has nothing to do with running, but I think it accurately sums up my life (at least for now):

No longer a student. What next?

As for the people I am tagging in return…

  1. Jen at Birthday Challenge ’08.
  2. Irish at Do It.
  3. Charlotte at Music and Veganism, if she ever gets back to blogging…
  4. And, erm…more to follow? That’s all I got for now 😦

In other news, I am now the proud owner of a running skirt! It’s cute, too–black with a thick pink stripe up the side and pink compression shorts. I ❤ Alissa‘s point about varying my activities and taking time to discover other activities is a good one, and it is something I am going to start focusing on as soon as I am a bit more settled (i.e. not getting ready to move in a little over a week).

At any rate, stay tuned for my comments on running in a skirt! Now that my stomach is less upset than it was yesterday I am planning on getting a run in later this afternoon/evening.

I hate running in shorts!

That’s my confession: I hate running in shorts. I love the warm weather, I love the cool breezes, I love not having to pile on layers, I love feeling the sun on my skin (although I don’t like the thought of a sunburn)…I just hate wearing shorts while experiencing all of these things.

See, I can’t relax in shorts. I am constantly tugging at them: they are sitting too high on my waist, or not high enough, or (and this is most often the case) they are riding up between my legs. They are bunching up between my thighs. And my thighs are not particularly large. And it doesn’t seem to matter what sort of shorts I wear. I have tried different brands, different lengths, different cuts, different materials, and it never seems to make a difference. No matter what I do, I find myself yanking at my shorts while running so that they stop riding up.

As a result, I dread the warm weather. I wish I could wear capri pants all the time, no matter what. Sadly, with the summers on the east coast, capri season is rather short and fleeting. What’s a girl to do?

Has anyone else had a similar problem? Or any other gripes with gear that just never seems to work, no matter what you try? Misery does love company, after all.

Splurge on shoes!

Now that the weather is finally beginning to vaguely resemble something Spring-like, I think more and more of us are ready to shuffle off our wintry coils and get outside for some activity. Of course you all know what my favorite outdoor activity is: running (duh)!! One of the greatest things about running is that you don’t really need any fancy equipment to do it–all you need to do is throw on some clothes that you don’t mind getting sweaty (for a start, anyway. When you get serious about it, you may find you want to invest in some wicking material in order to prevent the dreaded chafing), grab some shoes, and head out the door.

The problem here is that a lot of people end up grabbing the wrong shoes. This seems to happen a lot, and to a certain extent, fitness magazines do little to stop this problem in its tracks. Recently, Fitness magazine ran a piece about the best shoes for different activities, identifying one shoe for walking, one for running, one for cross-training, etc. The problem with this is that there really isn’t a single “best” running shoe–everyone’s foot is different and everyone needs a different shoe. Going in to some big sporting goods store and just picking out what a magazine told you is the best shoe is one of the least productive things you can do for your wallet and your body.

Running in the wrong shoes can be extremely hard on your body, and seeing as how running is an activity that is inherently hard on the joints, it seems to me that you would want to minimize or mitigate damage as much as possible. Getting the right shoes is essential when it comes to preserving your knees, ankles, and hips! I know it may sound silly, but the difference between the right and the wrong pair of shoes could mean the difference between running happily for the rest of your life and running miserably for a few years (if you make it that long) before injuring yourself to the point where running is out of the question.

Here are my tips when it comes to buying the right shoes:

  1. Take a look at some material online to see what is said about shoes. Runner’s World and CoolRunning are probably a good place to start.
  2. There is a lot of information online about how to get an idea about the shape of your foot, how you roll through your foot as you run, and the shape of your arch. Being familiar with all of these things can really help you to identify a good shoe. You should make sure you get an idea of how a high arch is different from a low arch, and what pronation and motion-control shoes mean.
  3. Go to a running store. A lot of (if not all) running stores pride themselves on being able to help their customers find the right shoe. They want you to be running as long as possible. The longer you run, the longer you are their customer. I’m sure they are also interested in your running because they are generally runners too and want everyone to enjoy running (so it is not just a capitalistic interest)! Some stores have treadmills that are hooked up to cameras and monitoring systems, others just rely on the keen eyes of their highly-trained staff. Whatever the set-up, a good running store employee will spend as much time as necessary with you in order to find the shoe that works best for you. The best sign is when they start you off with brands you have never heard of–that is, they don’t bring out the Nikes or the Adidas; instead, they start with the Mizunos, Asics, Sauconys, or Brooks.
  4. Don’t be afraid to speak up. When you are trying on shoes, remember that you are making an investment in yourself and you want to find the right thing. Take your time to get a feel for the shoe and if it doesn’t feel exactly the way you want it to, say something. Try a different pair. Make sure you run in the shoes, and that you don’t just walk. Your stride while walking is different from your stride while running and often a shoe will feel different during the two activities. Give the shoes a test run, even if it means going out onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Most of the time, the store employees have no problem with this.
  5. Expect to pay between $75 and $120. Believe me, it is worth it. Plus, if the price is a bit too high for you in the store, you can always take a look and see what’s available online (although that isn’t really nice to do to someone who just spent an hour with you and helped you go through eight pairs of shoes).

I hope these tips help and keep you running for a long time to come!

Gear: Headphones

UPDATE: My Phillips headphones are in a trash can somewhere in Central Park. Before heading out to run, I noticed that they leak sound like there is no tomorrow, which I generally hate in a pair of headphones. I think it is a sign of really, really shoddy craftsmanship. Plus, I personally can’t stand being able to hear what other people are listening to when they have headphones in, and I don’t want to be one those people who shares their music with the rest of the world. I mean, these things were loud enough that they could have passed for speakers. In the first five minutes of my run, they fell out of my ears about five times. I eventually had to just take them out, and after realizing what crap they are, decided that they are not worth keeping. Angry email to Phillips to follow.

One of my greatest frustrations when I am running is my headphones. I feel like I have had many “wrong” pairs, and I’m still waiting to stumble upon the “right” pair. I’ve looked at runners’ forums, various blogs, and I’ve tried to find reviews and articles about the elusive right headphone.

When I got my new ipod nano, I was disappointed to find that Apple no longer packages the little black foamy covers for their earbuds with the earbuds themselves. As far as I am concerned, that was the only thing that kept my former pair of falling out of my ears on a regular basis. That pair–that is to say, the earbud with foam cover combo–was decent but the wire ended up breaking. I guess you can only ask so much of a pair of headphones that come packaged with something. From those I switched to a pair of JVC jellies. Those were mediocre, and when I passed my ipod mini on to my sister, I passed the headphones along too, since I now had a shiny new pair of earbuds. Earbuds without foam covers, that is.

As it turns out, it doesn’t take much for something to knock those little earbuds right out of my ears. Wind blows them out, if I so much as touch the cord they fall out, hell, they even fall out for mysterious reasons that I cannot attempt to explain. They just won’t stay in my ears. So I began a search for some over-ear models. The kind with the hook that goes over your ear and that looks like it couldn’t possibly fall out even if it was yanked on. I had tried a Sony pair of these a while ago but found, oddly, that my ears were too small. Upon putting them on my ears, they fell right off. It was like trying to hang a picture in the air, there was just nothing for the hooks to grab on to. They have worked really well, as far as I know, for the friend that I gave them too when I realized they were functionally useless to me.

At Target this past weekend, I thought I had found exactly what I was looking for–white, hook-over-the-ear earbuds that looked small enough for my dainty ears, made by Phillips. I tried them out yesterday, and found them to be only slightly better than the earbuds they replaced. In spite of their hooks (which are actually uncomfortable) they fell out of my ears on a couple of occasions during my 7.5 mile run. While I am running, the last thing I want to deal with is my headphones. I want to put them in, go, and not think about them again until my run is over and I am taking them out. I’m not sure why this is so difficult.

For now I will stick with the Phillips, but only because I paid money for them and am stubborn enough to think that maybe if I find the right way to put them in my ears (which will probably have to be done while the planets are in alignment, and it is a waxing moon, and the third Tuesday of a month with R in it, of course) they will be a blessing instead of the curse they are now.