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.

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How Much Would You Pay?

It’s been a while since I bought a new pair of running tights, and as a result I’m on the market for a couple new pairs. Of course, running tights tend to be on the pricy side, and I am, as usual, a little bit strapped for cash (I’m also debating whether I should buy new full-length tights or a few more pairs of capris given how mild this winter has been, but that could be another post altogether). Because of my financial situation–and, let’s be honest, my refusal to pay much for running clothes in general–I’ve been shopping around a bit, and hitting up the usual suspects for a good deal.

I’ve got to say, when you start looking around for a specific item, you start to find some wacky stuff. Obviously it’s no surprise that there are items out there that are either strange and overpriced (this comes to mind), or strange, overpriced, and hideous (I’m looking in your direction again, lululemon. I mean really, jodhpurs? Now you’re just openly mocking us. Except joke’s on you because the word is not spelled johdpur). Apparel like that has been around for ages, and if you don’t believe me just watch any runway show ever.

Image via RoadRunnerSports.com

I think, though, that I may have come across an item that takes the cake. Now, I mean no disrespect to CW-X, but unless these tights are going to wash and fold themselves and do the rest of my laundry while they’re at it, I really just can’t justify paying close to $200 for them. The product description is trying to make me think that wearing them will give me flat abs and toned muscles, but frankly I don’t really go in for that snake oil sort of thing. Personally, I’d rather pay $150 less and just do some crunches. Or maybe Pilates.

I own a pair of CW-X tights, and I admit that I a) paid a pretty penny for them and b) like them a lot. But I got them about two years ago, and they’re showing more signs of wear (example: the inner thigh seam is beginning to split) than pairs I’ve had for much longer. I also used to have a pair of CW-X capris, and got rid of them after about a year and a half because of the same problem. When I spoke with a representative from the company last year at the running show I went to, he said this was pretty normal and that it was to be expected. He also suggested that I stitch up the seams myself, or that I just buy a new pair. That’s when I decided that in the future, I’d stick to a more reasonable budget when shopping for running tights (actually, I’d already made that decision when I got rid of the capris. Talking to the CW-X rep convinced me I’d made the right decision, though).

So I’m curious: would you pay $194.99 for the Revolution Tight? If not, what would it take (if anything) for you to justify the price?

On the Shoe Market

In the world of running, it sometimes seems like the apparel and shoe market are dominated by certain brands: Brooks, Saucony, Nike, Asics, and New Balance (mentioned here in no particular order) possibly being at the top of the list.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that new brands and trends don’t pop up, and that there aren’t smaller brands that are still popular and successful (Vibram FiveFingers, for instance, or Mizuno, my brand of choice).

I’ve recently been surprised to see K-Swiss making a play for a share of the running shoe market.  Back when I was in middle school, I saw people wearing K-Swiss shoes all the time.  I guess they were the trend at that time.  But I never really associated them with any specific sports, or serious athleticism.  And to be honest, when they popped back up on my radar, I realized I hadn’t thought about them in years.

Runner’s World recognized K-Swiss’s Kwicky Blade-light (pictured at left and available in a wide variety of bright, bright colors) for ‘Best Debut’ in June, 2011, so it would seem that these are viable running shoes.  The brand has styles available for neutral runners, those who over-pronate, and those who are looking for a more minimal running experience.  They’ve made a commitment to trying to get their name onto the list of running shoe brands, and that they intend to be taken seriously.

Or at least, it kind of seemed that way.  And then I came upon these:

for which I’d seen an ad featuring Jillian Michaels earlier this week–the Tubes 100 Backatcha.

It’s not that I think that someone’s level of dedication to running should be measured based on the shoes they’re wearing.  Nor do I think that anyone should be judged based on how ridiculous their shoes look (and I’m aware that other brands have designs similar to this.  For the record, I think they’re pretty silly looking, too).  And it’s not even that I think that because these shoes are sort of silly, K-Swiss shouldn’t be taken seriously as a contender for a piece of the running shoe pie.  It’s just…these shoes, in spite of being classified as running shoes, seem like they’d be more appropriate for middle school gym class.  And when a brand is trying to position itself as an alternative to Brooks, or Saucony, or Nike, they should probably focus a little bit more on their Runner’s-World-recognized shoes, and a bit less on things that look kind of like something you might wear if you wanted to go for a walk on the surface of the moon.

I get pretty excited about running shoes, but I just can’t see myself ever wanting to try on a pair of the Tubes Backatcha.  I’m not sure I would give the Kwicky Blade-lights a try, either.  But that’s me, and of course I’m not necessarily representative of the general running population.

So what’s your opinion on K-Swiss as a running shoe brand?  Are they barking up the wrong tree (running down the wrong road)?  Should they put less emphasis on their campaign for a place in the pantheon of running shoe brands?  Or do they have a chance to achieve greatness, a chance that I’m incapable of seeing because of my snobby attitude toward shoes that will inevitably be caked in dirt and grime after one week?

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The Perfect Short

It’s official: I’m tired of the summer.  Specifically, I’m tired of it being so warm that I have to run in shorts all the time.  I can’t wait for it to get a little bit cooler–cool enough that I can run in capris and put my shorts away.

Nike Women's Pacer, via Running Warehouse

I’ve searched high, low, far, and wide for running shorts that I like, and it seems like every time I think I’ve found a pair, something happens to change my mind.  Right now, my favorites are the Nike Women’s Pacer Short, although lately even they’ve been something of a disappointment.  Generally, these are great shorts: they’ve got two inside pockets (and very well sized to fit a gel or two), a comfortable waistband, and a good length.  Recently they’re riding up more than usual, but it’s possible that my patience with them has worn thin because I’m so annoyed at my running shorts in general.

Shorts that creep up my inner thighs are such a commonplace that I’ve learned to accept that little problem as something I’m never going to succeed in avoiding as long as I choose to wear loose-fitting shorts.  I wish I could say this is the only problem I’ve been having!  These days, my shorts are pulling across the back (unless they’re pulling across the front); they’re slipping down; and they’re gapping so much in the front that I feel like there’s something anatomically wrong with my body!  When I go out for a run, the last thing I want to be concerned about is what’s going on with my apparel.

The biggest problem, as far as I can tell, is that the warm weather is far from over.  I’ve probably got about a month (at least) of shorts weather to push through.  And honestly?  I’m not at all sure I want to spend another month tugging at my running shorts.  In fact, I’d like to just completely forget about them, and never have to think about them ever again.  But is that even possible?  Or am I chasing a dream?

Here’s the only solution I can really think of: compression shorts with a long(er) inseam.  It may come as a surprise given my long history of animosity toward loose shorts, but I’ve never really tried compression shorts.  What’s the verdict?  Any favorite styles?  Cautionary tales?  Let’s hear how you deal with your shorts.

Shoe Abuse?

Fewer than 90 miles ago, my shoes looked like this:

They were so white they were almost blinding!  My previous pair, on the left, were gray.  I should probably stick with that color in the future.  Here’s what my shoes look like today:

You can even see, in the space usually covered by the laces, what a dramatic difference there is in them now.  I don’t know where all that grime came from, but I guess it’s not necessarily abuse if you’re using the shoes for their intended purpose, right?

Dare to Bare?

Last week’s informal “poll” (for lack of a better word) was so informative for me that it changed the way I approach getting dressed to go running.  I won’t specify how it changed things, because a lady must have her secrets!  In light of how interesting it was to hear from so many of you about such an intimate issue, I thought I would put forth another question: when it comes to hot weather running, do you go sports bra only, or do you insist on keeping your shirt on?

Image via Runners World

Now, there are obviously a few factors here that make this question a bit less straightforward than the last one.  When it comes to wearing underwear underneath your running shorts or not, there’s no risk of feeling like everyone is staring at your and possibly judging you based on how you look in a sports bra and shorts.  So maybe, instead of thinking of this initial question as a poll, we can think of it as the beginning of a discussion.

To further our discussion, a few follow-up questions:

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had “the courage” to run shirtless?  Do you feel like you are more held back by your own feelings about your body, or by how people might respond to your body being on display?  If you do run shirtless, how did you decide to do it, and how does it make you feel?

In my case, I play around with the idea of running shirtless on a regular basis, and I’m not sure what holds me back.  I think to a certain degree that my fear about taking the plunge has a lot to do with my own feelings about my body, and wondering how I’ll feel if I do it.  Sometimes the feel of my legs rubbing together is enough to upset me–I’m not sure what it would be like to have an exposed midsection.  On the other hand, I live in an urban area, and I worry a little bit about what it would be like to run from my apartment to the park–to get to Central Park I have to go through some pretty high traffic areas.  I don’t know that I want to draw more attention to myself than I already do by virtue of the fact that I’m running.

What are your thoughts?

 

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Under Where?

Here’s a question: when it comes to running shorts, do you wear anything under them?

At one point I was reading a blog, and the blogger made some passing comment about how obviously you’re not meant to wear underwear with shorts that have built-in briefs.  Prior to reading that, I’d never thought twice about pulling my shorts on over my underwear–it just seems natural and although I’ve never tried going without, I think I would feel extremely naked if the only thing separating me from the rest of the world was the thin material apparel companies use to make those briefs.

I have to admit, though, that lately I’ve been thinking more and more about ditching the underwear.  In this heat, they just end up being one more article of clothing that ends up sweaty and needs to go in the laundry.  So maybe it’s time to give them up and see how the other half lives?  Really, I don’t know.  And that’s why I’m asking you.  Thoughts?  Opinions?  Die-hard beliefs?  Or maybe you’ve tried wicking underwear–in which case I want to hear about what that’s been like.  Are they a worthwhile investment?

I know it’s a weird question, but who else am I going to ask?

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