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Inov-8 TrailRoc 150

The TrailRoc 150 is a super minimal, light weight trail shoe.

I picked up a pair to replace my worn down Inov-8 X-Talon 190’s, and considering how much I love my minimal shoes, I wanted to get two things in a replacement – I wanted a shoe thats as minimal as possible, while still retaining grip, and I wanted a shoe that had a wider toe-box than the X-Talon, as the reason they fell apart was because they were too narrow.

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First, lets get the obvious out of the way. These things are hideous. I don’t know who at Inov-8 comes up with their color schemes, but they have some hits, and some misses. Total miss here. Especially in a Mens 12!

Second, they are LIGHT. They weigh little, and provide little. There is no support, there is no heel cushioning. For fans of minimal shoes, this is a good thing, and mostly, it is – however, having worn them to several races on various levels of terrain, and worn them hiking/running up and down mountains, I’m having mixed results.

Do I like them? Kind of. They are comfortable fitting – finally, an inov-8 with a wider toe box for those of us with flat feet! The grip of the sole is good – not as aggressive as an x-talon, but dramatically better than most shoes out there. They are light and flexible enough that they never feel like they are in the way, and they shed mud quickly and easily.

However  – and this is my reservation – the uppers are different. They feel less like a fabric mesh, and more like a plastic fabric. They don’t drain well. If you splash in a puddle, you will stay dry – submerge them, and the water will stay. I tested this by sticking them under a tap, and running water into them – the only place it drained was the leg hole. Not good.

Also, the sole is a bit too minimal if you’re looking for anything more than a casual trail shoe. Running on some fire roads, or through light trails, you’ll feel everything as you’d expect, and be fine – but once you hit the really rocky stuff, or get into some serious hiking, I feel like I need more protection and cushioning.

I’m also a little concerned that the fabric of the upper is fraying – it’s nothing more than a bit of an eye sore right now, but long term, who knows what will happen.

I’m placing an order for a sturdier pair of Inov-8’s soon, to see how I prefer those – more to come.

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SPI Belt

I bought a SPI Belt about a year ago, after constantly borrowing one. This is a *great* piece of running gear. It’s an extremely lightweight belt that can hold a phone while you run. It used to hold my Razr and keys quite nicely. It takes an iPhone well, but I’ve not tried with keys recently. It is also very fast drying and can go through the laundry.

SPI Belts have an insane array of colors and patterns to choose from, so you are almost certain to find one to catch your eye. They are also extremely adjustable, making this a great buy for couples or families to share. Check them out here: http://www.spibelt.com/

I highly recommend this product

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Honey Stinger Energy Bar, Protein Bar and Energy Chews

Endurance races such as marathons, triathlons, ironmans have been around a while now. With things like Ultra-marathons gaining popularity, as well as adventure racing and obstacle racing, it only makes sense that more and more products hit the market as well. You’ve got this start-up business coming up with their own gels, protein and energy bars, chews or whatever else they think is the “cool” thing to do.

Having been around since 2002, it seems to me Honey Stinger might have been ahead of the curve a little bit. Their product line is refined and not clogged up with unnecessary items. Well, I’m not sure what the deal is with the Waffle’s, but that’ll be for another day when I try them out! They have been around long enough, and know how to do things the right way. Their product is labeled 90-95% organic ingredients, which oddly enough, seems to be straightforward and darned honest to boot. As the name entails, the main ingredient that they have built around is… wait for it…. HONEY! Who’d have guessed right? I love this because it means no other sweeteners or excess sugar was added. The ingredients are all pronounceable, it seems they are preservative free as well. Most of their products are also gluten free.

Now onto what I tasted…

Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Protein Bars – These were my favorite out of the three things that I sampled. Not only do they have 10g of whey protein, but they are stacked with 30gs of caffeine!! I devoured one before a run and had one mid way through a shift at work. My job is pretty physical, seeing as I have to lump around an 85lb ladder most of the time, so this bar gave me a definite pep in my step. The flavor was fantastic, nearly amazing is the fact the bar is good for you and gluten free to boot.

Blueberry Buzz Energy Bar – Just cause I liked the Mocha Cherry bars doesn’t mean these were bad, far from it. They had a great flavor, and were a nice filling snack throughout the day. Per the Honey Stinger site “All Honey Stinger energy bars are made with over 30% honey, 20% of the daily recommended allowance of protein, 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium, antioxidants, natural flavors and all the benefits of our energy gel.” The flavor was clean, and did not taste like most “blueberry flavored” bars out there, as these actually had blueberries in them. The yogurt dip on the bottom added a nice touch to an already perfect energy bar.

cherrycolaCherry Cola Energy Gels – I was sent two sample packs of these, so I used them for to separate runs. I ran 6 miles on Sunday, and 7+ on Monday. Normally, I have never taken anything with me, except water in my hydration pack, but it’s become clear that after 3 miles my body starts screaming for nourishment so these were perfect to try out and see what they did. As usual, right around mile 3 the pissing and moaning began. First it was my calves, “but, but we hurt…” Then it was my hamstrings, “you need to rest, we can’t handle anymore…” I had heard enough! In mid stride I opened my pack, fished around in it with my arm twisted behind my back which must have looked awkward to other runners on the trail, hell it looked and felt awkward to me. I popped about 3-4 of them in my mouth and felt like I was transported back to being a kid. It was very reminiscent of the texture of a gummy bear, but a heck of a lot less sticky. These chews did not stick to my teeth, were not overly sweet and had a pleasant taste to them. About 5-10 minutes later the chatter from my legs was dying down, they were working. Thank you Honey Stinger, my iPod was getting awfully jealous that I wasn’t listening to it, and it was conspiring malicious things against my legs for taking all the attention away!

The gist of this review is, Honey Stinger products are exactly what you have been missing. Good for your taste buds and good for your body. I love the packaging too, listing activities such as climbing, splitting wood, running as the optimal “sports” for these products. Highly recommended, I am a huge Honey Stinger fan!!

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V-Force Weight Vest

I recently treated myself to a V-Force 40lb vest from weightvest.com, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. I had been wanting a weight vest for my training for some time. My intention was to wear it while running, and perhaps to wear it to my Crossfit box while WODding. But, I’ve mostly ended up using it for hiking, and I couldn’t be more please. Specifically, I ordered the short vest – the longer style rests heavily on the stomach, making it ill suited to running or active persuits, and I went with 40lbs. The elephant in the room – price. Weightvest.com is expensive. They offer trade in on old weight vests, and they do sometimes have deals on stock or display items – but, you’re paying for something more than just a jacket with some weights. The vest is incredibly well built, and that build is done in the US. On top of that, you get a life time guarantee and they’ll fix or replace any problems in a similar way to the GoRuck bags we all love. Mine ended up costing a little over $200 shipped, and it was money well spent. 2013-07-04 11.18.34 HDR-2 If you’re looking to increase your training intensity, and get stronger and faster with a weigh vest, this is an excellent buy, and weightvest.com are a fantastic company to get it from.

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Gear: The FRoller

Full Disclosure – I received a free FRoller (From Robb McCoy of F.I.T. Challenge) in exchange for a review of my experiences with it – trust me, this is unbiased and free schwag won’t influence me to talk good about a crap product.

Happily, this isn’t a crap product.

http://www.thefroller.com/

Price: $49.95

What is the Froller?

It’s a bodystick – essentially. A flexible bar with rollers that you use to self massage your aching, sore, tired muscles. The essential part that separates the FRoller from the more common bodystick though – the magic part – is that the rollers are cold. Frozen. Like – just grabbed them from the freezer frozen.

And it feels SOOOOO good. Research shows that cold therapy – that being the application of cold in the form of anything from a full on ice bath to a simple ice pack – helps reduce the blood flow to an area, which in the case of sore muscles (the dreaded DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), something I’m sure we all have faced more than a few times, can reduce the pain and soreness. It’s worth noting that while much of the research indicates that cold therapy doesn’t speed up healing, it does reduce the pain.

Rolling though – that can help. Put the two together, and I certainly noticed a “feels good” difference.

How does it work?

The FRoller is pretty small in size – roughly the same length as the red handled “travel” sized body stick you may already be familiar with. It has roughly the same amount of flexibility too – but it’s trick is in it’s 6 large rollers. Each one contains something – gel maybe – that freezes. You simply drop the whole thing in your freezer, or pop a handle off and drop the rollers in by themselves. It doesn’t take long to get to temperature – and once it does, you simply roll it just like a normal body stick. They stay cold for a good amount of time, and you drop them right back in the freezer when you’re done.

Does it work?

I suspect this will be subjective. My wife can’t stand the cold, and wouldn’t use it. I love it for my legs and calves after a run, and wish I had a freezer at every place I go to run. Alternating between it and my regular body stick, I don’t know I could give you a definite, long term, physical and beneficial difference between the two – but when I’m actually using it there is no question that the FRoller feels awesome.

I actually moved it from my home freezer to the freezer at my Crossfit gym, and let everyone there know they could try it out and give me feedback – it’s still there – feedback has been great – I don’t know I’m going to get it back 🙂

At it’s price point, it’s expensive in comparison to the more common body stick – but you’re supporting a local business, and getting something unique, that definitely feels good to use. Recommended.