May 23, 2016

Summer Running Gear Essentials {Miles & Pace hat giveaway}

Disclaimer: I received Miles & Pace product for review. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

As the weather heats up, some different gear gets more heavily rotated in my runs. Think a lot less layers and lighter fabrics.  I rock the neon colors and prints year round but especially love wearing crazy colors when the weather is warm. Instead of protecting myself from the wind and cold, I need to protect myself more from the sun.  Here are some of my summer running gear staples: 


Summer Running Gear Essentials {Miles & Pace hat giveaway}

1. Hat. 

When's it sunny out I need something to protect my head and face from the sun and keep the sun or rain out of my eyes. It's a great way to protect yourself from UV rays in style whether you're logging miles or relaxing on the beach. It did take me years to embrace wearing a hat. If it's not for you, try a visor!


miles-and-pace-trucker-hat1
Or taking a nap outside. 

2. Running Socks. 

Running socks are an important staple year round. I'm partial to Feetures! running socks (I'm an ambassador for the brand!), but at least recommend finding any type of wicking socks that you like. Aside from rainy runs, if you are a sweaty runner like me, during those hot & humid runs the last thing I want is sweaty feet and toes rubbing around in my shoes giving me blisters. Throw down a few extra dollars for some pairs of solid running rocks! 

3. Sunglasses. 

Like hats, sunglasses protect my face and eyes from sun exposure. Plus shades make you look super cool. I also use sunglasses to partially hide some ugly running faces during races-bonus! I always pick up a couple of fun cheap pairs of sunglasses at Target to last me through the summer. 


miles-and-pace-gear-summer-running1

4. Shorts.

I am a shorts girl. I just slick some Bodyglide and sunscreen on my thighs, and I'm ready to go in the summer! I love wearing breathable shorts in a fun pattern during the summer instead of my collection of black capris. I'm also a fan of shorts that have a little pocket perfect for my house key or a gel. I have a few pairs of Lululemon, Oiselle, and Under Armour shorts that I really like but this brand new pair in the photos is courtesy of the Old Navy sale rack for less than $10.  They are really light, semi-waterproof, and feature a pretty pattern! 



From my previous Miles & Pace review you know that I'm a big time supporter of the brand. In case you it's been a while since you read my post, to recap Miles & Pace is a super cool and laid back active lifestyle brand that pairs running motivation with awesome graphic tees and trucker hats. Their products totally fit in with my summer style.

As you can tell, I was super excited to receive one of the Miles & Pace trucker hats in the new neon pink style. I LOVE pink & black as a color combo and think neon pink is a perfect summer color. I also received their awesome "Sunday Runday" top in a black tank style perfect for when I'm enjoying a post-run beer on a hot summer day. If summer ever decides to grace us with its presence in the mid-atlantic that is! 

Now Miles & Pace hats and "Sunday Runday" tanks come in many shades of colors so you can choose your favorite (or grab them all!). 


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Trying to look cool modeling this gear. #fail
Since I'm totally on board with the brand's philosophy of spreading inspiration and motivation in the running community, I thought I'd kickoff summer running with a giveaway for my readers. I had an extra black and white trucker hat from a giveaway so I thought I'd pass it along to a fellow runner! I'm giving YOU the chance to win the classic trucker hat.  

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below to win one Miles & Pace trucker hat-giveaway ends June 6th at 12 AM EST. This giveaway is sponsored by me and prize will not be coming directly from Miles & Pace. Open to U.S. residents only, sorry! 

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Check out Miles & Pace on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter

This post was linked up with Weekend Snapshots,

What is your favorite piece of summer running gear?

May 18, 2016

Live Healthier with the new Microsoft Band {Review}

Disclosure: In partnership with Women's Health as a WH Action Hero, I received a complimentary Microsoft Band for review purposes. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Now that I’ve made some big fall race decisions and have new fitness aspirations, it’s time to get motivated. I’m always looking for ways to keep living happier and healthier while getting involved in bigger and better things.  As a busy person, I’m also always looking for things that can help me do that.  With the school semester winding down (thank God) and a light summer class load (thank God again), I have more time to get into a really solid routine and focus a little more on getting stronger.  

I was lucky enough to get to try out another new fancy fitness band, this time the new Microsoft Band, thanks to my partnership as a Women’s Health Action Hero. While I’m not a huge numbers person I do find that casually knowing my steps and being reminded to move on more sedentary days can help. Also the sleep trackers on fitness devices is a great reminder of how much my body actually needs more sleep which leads to stronger fitness and better overall productivity. Getting better sleep is pretty much always a work in progress for me, le sigh

Out of the box, the new Microsoft Band was really easy to use and figure out, which is a huge plus. The Microsoft Band itself comes with a USB charging cable and a paper manual and quick start guide.  It's a little bulky but fairly comfortable to wear. 

Live Healthier with the new Microsoft Band {Review}


Using the Microsoft style of tiles took a little getting used to but merely because I had never used it before on their phone or OS interface.  It was easily to configure what tiles you wanted in what order to display on your band as well as change the settings. You can also customize the home screen color and design;  I chose a blue patterned screen.  You can tap or swipe the home screen to get information. Tapping lets you look at metrics like steps. 
 
Live Healthier with the new Microsoft Band {Review}
Home screen with step count
I found the step and floor count comparable to other devices, based on what they usually tell me my average is. I think they are all slightly inaccurate, so I don’t focus on it too much, but I do like to compare my daily averages to each other sometimes. 

Here are my thoughts on some of the Microsoft Band's features: 

Features Overview


Heart Rate Monitor
            I don’t find the HR sensor on the wrist as accurate as the chest band, in general. For basic HR though, this device was fine. It has an optical HR sensor on the inside of the device with two little LED green lights that supposedly read blood-flow in your wrist and determine your heart rate continuously throughout the day. 

  Microsoft Health App
            Their app gives you all the basic health & fitness metrics you want. I accessed this app on my Android™ phone, but it also works with the Windows Phone and iPhone®. The Microsoft Band can also connect to other for those only delivers basic data.   

Run and Exercise Tracking
            Obviously, this was one of the biggest tests for me since I usually use a Garmin watch (and not my phone) to track runs. I also used this to track my heart rate and calorie burn during a Yoga Sculpt class and a couple lifting sessions. During runs, I was surprised how much I liked it. I simply turned on my GPS if I was outside, tapped on the "running man" icon, and pressed the bottom button to start the run. I turned off the screen during runs to save battery, besides periodically checking my distance or pace. 

Live Healthier with the new Microsoft Band {Review}

The Microsoft Band has really nice functionality and statistics for workouts. You can download guided workouts, although I haven't used that feature. 

Phone Stuff
 Like smart watches, you can receive basic information from your phone, such as text messages, calls, emails and calendar, if you set it up. I found it burned the battery more, so I just had text and calls synced with my phone’s Bluetooth. 

GPS and Zzzzs
GPS during runs seemed surprisingly accurate and didn’t take long to connect in the city.It also tracks sleep automatically-without having to turn on it on-which was a big plus.
           
Overview

You can only have a certain number of tiles or apps on the band, which was a little annoying.  The battery lasted about two days which is comparable to my FitBit. I thought it was pretty for solid day-to-day use and a nice alternative to other fitness trackers and smart watches. 

Overall I think the Microsoft Band is a nice mid-range functionality-wise device that I can see myself wearing on a regular basis for daily tracking or workouts.  



Do you use a fitness tracker? What's the most motivating feature for you? 

May 13, 2016

5 Friday Favorites 5/12/16 featuring Sweet Note GF Bagels & Birthday Cake

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary Bloom VoxBox through my partnership with Influenster.  I was sent two complimentary packages of bagels to review from Sweet Note Bakery. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Yikes I'm still alive, guys. A crazy busy month of schoolwork and work plus 3 weeks of assignments due like everyday and now finals has me barely hanging out here in my corner of the internet! Don't worry I'm still running and eating. Just less running and more eating lately. I'm back today with some of my favorites from the past week. I still have finals week brain so I'm looking forward to having a really relaxing weekend!

5 Friday Favorites

1. Favorite Beverage: Coffee, Espresso, etc. 

coffee

Duh, graduate school and end of the semester means lots of coffee beverages all day, everyday. You have pretty much always been able to find me lately with a 32 oz. Nalgene full of water and a coffee in the other hand.  I love popping over to Ceremony Coffee in the afternoon for a cortado or coffee. You can also grab some Gundalow Juice while you're there which is a bonus!  

2. Favorite Breakfast: Sweet Note Gluten-Free Bagels

glutenfree-sweetnote-bagels

I love carbs but know I feel better when I can limit some gluten. When I tried these bagels on a breakfast sandwich at my local bagel shop (holla THB!) I was pretty impressed with the texture. 

 Eventually I chatted Sweet Note Bakery up on Twitter (Philly-area love!) and sampled more of the flavors at Expo East this past year. Their New-York style bagels are top 8 allergen free including being vegan and gluten-free They were nice enough to send me a couple bags of frozen bagels which have been an awesome breakfast I can take with me out the door these past few weeks.  The snickerdoodle bagel picture here has all this ooey gooey cinnamon sugar on the outside which is SO yummy especially when made into a PB&J bagel. 

3. Favorite Food: Birthday Cake

red-velvet-birthday-cake

It was my birthday last week on Cinco de Mayo so I was treated with this huge piece of red velvet cake (best in the city as introduced to by Sarah) after a birthday afternoon run. It was marvelous, and I ate every bite. Cake is good running fuel, right? The next day I ate some of my ice cream cake and proceeded to eat a slice for the next 3-4 days straight. Dessert is the best, especially when it's your birthday. 




4. Favorite Workout: Spinning

cycling-running-womenshealth

The few weeks I've been going to a spin class at Rev once a week, and it's reminded me of a couple things. One-spinning is a sweaty awesome workout. SO sweaty. Two- spinning is a  great complementary workout for running. This blurb I saw in an issue of Women's Health magazine only confirms that!




5. Favorite Package: Bloom VoxBox from Influenster

influenster-bloom-voxbox
  
Through Influenster I was picked to get the Bloom VoxBox, which was actually the perfect little package for finals week. I mean of course I needed a study break to paint my toenails with the Sinful Shine nail polish. Let's be honest, the chocolate chip Sunbelt Bakery granola bar didn't make it very long either! 

What is one of your favorite breakfasts, foods, or workouts of the week?


This post was linked up with my fave Friday Linkup ladies CourtneyMar, and Cynthia  as well as NicoleJilland Amanda .

May 9, 2016

My Top Mid-Run Fuels

As I'll soon be gearing up for marathon training season and getting serious about long runs, I thought I'd share what my go-to mid-run fueling products are.  

I'm the type of person that always eats before a long run or race. I also follow the general recommendation of taking in 100-200 calories (25-60 grams of carbohydrates) every hour, after the first hour of running.  For me this mostly applies to longer runs or marathons.   

Sometimes I don't eat anything during a half marathon, but if I do it's either some gummy candies, chews, or a gel around mile 7 or 8 if I feel like I need it.  Obviously this is just my preference and what works me. I encourage you to grab a bunch of different types of fuels and flavors and see what you like.  Lots of people also eat natural fuels, which I have tried. Honestly it's easier for me to grab these pre-packaged fuels, and so far they have all worked for me. 

For me I want something that has enough carbohydrates, sits well in my stomach, and is pleasant to eat (both taste and texture!).  I still sometimes try out new flavors, but here are what are really my top mid-run fuels: 

top-mid-run-fuels

 nuunhydration-plus

nuun hydration plus and active

Obviously as a Team Nuun athlete, I use nuun hydration as a hydration product to replenish electrolytes during and after workouts or runs. I usually always drink a glass of nuun with me before long runs and drink it during workouts or runs if I carry water. I mentioned before that nuun active has been reformulated to better work with the body and is vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo, less than 12 calories a serving, and free of any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives!   

Recently nuun launched a product called plus for nuun which contains carbohydrates. You mix 2 tablets of plus for nuun with 1 tablet of nuun active with water. Each serving of this will contain 11g of carbs, 48 calories, as well as calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. I love using this during runs where I don't really want or need to take any fuel to eat and as a supplement during races. 

1 tube of 10 tablets of nuun active is $7.00 and 1 tube of 6 servings is $6.99 MRP. 

HoneyStinger Waffles and Gels

I also am a member of the HoneyStinger Hive this year and really like their products. Their organic waffles are these crumbly, delicious waffle snacks which now come in some gluten-free varieties. I mostly eat them before a run or race but sometimes I'll cut one up and take it with me on a run.  It also totally caters to my sweet tooth. They also weirded me out before I tried them, but now I like them a lot! 

I also really like the HoneyStinger gels. I'm a big fan of the taste of honey so I sometimes get the flavored gels but usually go for the Gel Gold which is 95% honey and gluten-free. 1 Gold Gel packet is 100 calories and 27g of carbs. It literally just tastes like honey plus I like that it is more of a natural sugar product.  

honeystinger-waffles
Here's the actual unwrapped and cut up HoneyStinger waffles! 
1 box of 16 HoneyStinger waffles runs for $22.74 and 1 box of 24 HoneyStinger Gold Gels runs $33.40 MRP. 

 GU Salted Caramel Gel

salted-caramel-gu-energy-gel

GU is one of the most popular running fuels out there.  I like some of the other flavors like Salted Watermelon and Chocolate Outrage but Salted Caramel is my undisputed favorite. I discovered this flavor when I was training for my first marathon and it carried me through on race day. Each packet is 100 calories and 22g of carbs.   The only downside to GU is you really need to take it with some water for optimal absorption and because it is pretty sticky. I totally end up with GU all over my face when I'm eating these mid-run sometimes. Really super attractive. 

1 box of 24 GU Energy Gel runs $34.80 MRP. 

Gummy Candy or Chews 

 Ugh this photo sucks. I'm sorry, but I'm not a professional and it was the best of the bunch. 

gummy-bears-honeystinger-chews

A pretty simple go-to for me, especially when I'm not marathon training or practicing a specific fueling is just to take some gummy bears or Swedish Fish with me on a run. They are delicious and provide some simple sugars (aka carbs!). Plus I like that they are small so I pack some in a little baggie and eat them as needed. Or just eat the whole bag because they are delicious. A bonus is you can pretty much buy candy at any gas station or convenience store if I find myself in need of fuel in a hurry.   

I also really love the HoneyStinger Chews if I'm carrying a fuel chew.  This was the first HoneyStinger product I like because they just taste like gummies and are really soft and easy to eat.  My favorite flavors are the Cherry Blossom, Pink Lemonade, and caffeinated Cherry Cola chews.  For the Cherry Blossom organic and gluten-free chews, each packet is 160 calories and contains 39g of carbohydrates.  

1 bag of candy is going to be about $2. 1 box of 12 HoneyStinger Chew packets retails for $27 MRP. 

Disclaimer: Through my partnerships with nuun hydration and HoneyStinger I receive a discount on product. I totally loved these products and this is not a sponsored post. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

This post was linked up with Weekend SnapshotsMIMM, Wild Workout Wednesday

What do you eat for fuel mid-run? Do you use natural or store-bought products? 

April 26, 2016

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more marathons

You know after the Boston Marathon, a day in which every runner at work is in fact sneaking away to watch the Boston Marathon streaming online, that it is almost fall marathon season. Okay so it's at least fall marathon lottery and registration season.  

Everyone and their mother is registering for marathons, maybe catching the fever and running their first or running multiple races. 

Of course as always, I'm super inspired and motivated to train again after watching the Boston Marathon and seeing all the heart and reading all the stories that come out of it. 

boston-marathon-pro-compression-socks

I want another, faster BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) since I am less than a minute under my qualifying time and need to be faster to apply and be accepted to run nowadays.  I'm still shy about talking about it, but it's something I want that I can't deny. 

I talked about why a BQ is an A goal but obviously it's not everything here last year before I ran the Chicago Marathon.  Since I wanted to run a flat-ish marathon course, my options were limited. Because of my school schedule I also didn't want to run a marathon that was going to be a big trip and farther away.  

The Philadelphia Marathon has been on my list of races to run for a while.  I've shied away from it the past couple of years because I really would rather run a race earlier in the Fall since I have more time to train in the summer and less in the Fall, especially now that grad school is crazy.  I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon a couple years ago and have obviously raced there a bunch.  

Once I PRed a half marathon in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago (recap to follow!), my choice to run it was solidified. I love Philly, and it loves me.  I signed up on the day registration open, sadly missing their really discounted marathon entries, but still getting early bird registration. 

philadelphia-marathon-2016-registration

philadelphia-marathon-2016
So yep, Philadelphia Marathon 2016, and I'm all ready to go

Not so fast. Did you forget that I'm a crazy runner lady? 

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more marathons
Maybe I'm an old fart, but this skit never gets old!
I've been getting emails for weeks from the Chicago Marathon about entering the lottery or applying for guaranteed entry (which I qualify for again, as I did last year).  Then I saw a bunch of friends were entering the lottery. Then I thought long and hard about getting vengenace on that Chicago Marathon course which mostly because of the heat last year, kicked my butt. 
 
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