Product Review: 2Toms SportShield (& a Discount)

Disclosure: I received a sample of 2Toms SportShield for Her as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Summer is impending in my neck of the woods, which brings up a sore subject in my running world: chafing. It’s something most people don’t like to discuss (or admit happens to them), but it happens to almost everyone. I don’t know of a single runner who’s escaped the discomfort. Luckily for all of us, there are many products out there to help prevent this sort of thing from occurring. There are clothes with flat seams, and there are balms you can put on your skin, like 2Toms SportShield.

While I tend to have these issues during the summer due to sweat, there are a couple of parts of my body where chafing is inevitable year-round, like near my armpit. When I found out I’d have the opportunity to test out their line of anti-chafe products for women, I was curious to see how it would compare to other balms I have used in the past.

Sport Shield

2Toms SportShield for Her is a silicone-based anti-chafe solution that is waterproof, sweatproof and easy to use. It can be used anywhere, and can even help protect against blisters. It doesn’t melt in intense heat, and it stays on all day! The “for Her” formulation contains aloe and shea butter for smoother skin in addition to anti-microbial ingredients to accommodate sensitive skin, and it is fragrance and dye free.

My experience with 2Toms SportShield has been absolutely wonderful. I’d go so far as to say it’s my new preferred brand of anti-chafe product. It is just that good. The formula is rich and silky, and a little goes a long way.

sportshieldapplication To apply, I roll on a little bit and spread SportShield out where I need it to go. Then, I wash my hands. 2Toms doesn’t necessarily recommend touching the product because it will stay on your fingers, but this turned out to be my favorite way to apply it, because I can get even coverage with a small amount. I usually put my SportShield on at home before dressing anyway, because it’s easier to apply, so I have easy access to a place to wash my hands. In general, it’s easier to apply than other products, and I can get a nice even coat everywhere that I need to be conscious of because it’s a liquid formula.

If you’re on the go, the wipes are a perfect alternative, because you can open the corner of the package to use a small part of the wipe without touching the product. The wipes fit easily inside your pocket or fuel belt of choice, so you can carry it with you for long races, just in case.

sportshieldinbag

It also lasts a long time on the body (up to 24 hours). Since I have been using it, I have encountered NO chafing, and no need to reapply. One way I should have used SportShield was when I went to a trade show earlier this month. I forgot that my bottle of SportShield is small enough to pass through security, and I was really missing it when I was walking 6-8 miles a day/getting big ole blisters on my toes. Moral of the story: don’t hesitate to bring it when you’re traveling/walking a lot.

smilingsarahsportshield
All awesome aspects aside, there were a couple of aspects that I wasn’t too crazy about. While it is a rich formula, it’s also little runny, so it can be easy to use more than you intend to. However, all that means is that you’ll be extra protected; I simply recommend spreading it out if you apply too much. $13 for one package also seems a bit high initially, but I can confidently tell you it will last you a looong time. I’ve been using it consistently for about 3 months now, and I’m not even halfway through the package. You also get more product (1.5 oz) for that price than several other similar products.

2Toms is offering a discount code through the end of April, so head over to their website, www.2Toms.com, to try it out for yourself. Use the code 2Toms20 to receive 20% off your order.

Have you tried 2Toms SportShield or any of their other products? What did you think?

Cheers to being chafe-free!

 

Becoming a Runner Step 2: Finding a Schedule that Works

Want to tackle a half marathon, 10K, or even a full marathon in 2016? You’ve probably spent some time trying to find a method to help you accomplish that goal. Or perhaps you haven’t! Either way, I’m here to try to help take some of the guesswork out of that process, so you can get to running!

The longer I have been running consistently, the more I realize that running works for me because I’ve found a schedule that fits my lifestyle. When I was training for a marathon, I was running at least four days a week, and I did not have much time for anything else at a certain point. It was worth the commitment to accomplish my goal, but that rigorous workout schedule was one that I knew I couldn’t sustain for years and years.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the right distance and schedule for you.

What are my goals? Are they realistic?

If your goal is to go from 0 miles to a marathon runner in 3 months, that’s probably not realistic. However, maybe 0 to 6 miles is possible! Basically, the longer the distance you want to run, the more time you need. If you are starting from zero and want to run a marathon, give yourself a year (or two!). If you want to run a 10k, then that might be possible in 2 months. Just set your goal, and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish it. When I started running, one practical way I figured out how much time I needed was by finding the longest training schedule I could find, and giving myself an extra month in case I end up facing injury (I did this for the half and full marathon).

How often do I want to run?

There are many variations of training schedules for just about any distance. Are you super busy, like me? 5 days a week of running is probably not going to work for you! You’ll run a little longer/more miles each day if you run 3 days a week, but you won’t have to go to the gym nearly as often. If you work out every morning before work, then 5 days a week might work a lot better for you. Just find a balance that fits your current schedule.

Do I want to incorporate other activities?

If you do, it might be wise to pick a 4 day a week plan and incorporate 1 day of cross training, like a class, in place of a shorter run (3 days running, 1 day CT). Regardless of whether you want to incorporate a cross training option, or not, I would definitely make sure you are lifting weights some time during your training, so that all of your muscle groups stay strong.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the a schedule that works for you:

Runner’s World

Hal Higdon

Competitor.com

Cool Running

Jeff Galloway

Women’s Running

Most of these resources should have free options available. I have used Hal Higdon’s several times and really like his plans. Keep in mind that all of these websites (and individual plan authors) will have different philosophies on what works best. Jeff Galloway, for example, is built around the idea that taking walk breaks can help prevent injury and burnout. With any plan that sounds like a fit for you, try to steer clear of plans that have mileage increases of more than 10% each week. 10% is not a scientific number, but for most people, this number strikes the balance of  increasing mileage while building cardio endurance, without causing too much stress on the body too soon.

What kind of running regimen works for you?

Cheers to another year of great running!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

Becoming a Runner Step 1: It’s in the Shoes

In case you live under a rock missed it, it’s 2016, folks! For many people (myself included), the New Year is a reminder to get serious about accomplishing goals. My visit to the gym today reminded me how many people promise to themselves to get fit each year; however, many resolutions go unaccomplished by December. I think the reason why is that people lack practical advice on how to achieve these goals. Whether you’ve decided to get fit this year, or you want to accomplish a goal like a half marathon, I wanted to share some of my experiences to help you become a successful runner beyond the month of January.
FTR_Shoes360

I’ve learned that the first thing you should do before doing any kind of running is finding the right shoes. Here’s how:

Don’t just search the internet for shoe reviews… Go to a store that has a specific section for running (like Luke’s Locker, Road Runner Sports, or any locally-owned running store) and get fitted.

Set a reasonable budget for yourself. Especially the first time you get fitted, this isn’t the place to cheap out. For me personally, I try to stay under $120, and if you have neverdone this before, $100 budget is about the lowest budget I would set. That’s a lot of money, but when you factor in the advice you are paying for and the ability to try a range of styles and price points to find out what works, it is worth it. It is waste of money to purchase a pair that doesn’t work for you, and you could potentially injure yourself.

Set aside an hour or so for this endeavor, and wear athletic clothes. The first time I got fitted, I went on my lunch break in business casual attire. This was not the best decision, because you will likely have to run/walk around the store. The associate needs to be able to see your gait and the way your feet move when you run.

Bring in your current running or athletic shoes. Being able to review the wear patterns on your soles also helps the associate to see how you walk or run.

Here are some great examples of the wisdom I have acquired during my shoe fittings over the past 2 years:

  • My foot pattern and arch height: I underpronate. Underpronation is a typical pattern for people with high arches, so I assumed I had high arches; however, I have low to normal arches.
  • Correct shoe size: Running shoes should be 1-2 sizes larger than your normal shoe size and have about an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I normally wear a 6.5-7, and I wear an 8-8.5.
  • Fit/feel: The shoes you wear should “feel like you’re running on a slipper;” they should feel comfortable to you!
  • Correct shoe type: There are different foot patterns, and different types of shoes. For example, I wear a neutral shoe because I underpronate. Having a neutral foot pattern is different, and it doesn’t mean you should wear neutral shoes.
  • Looks (they don’t matter): Color shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but if you really like a shoe and they don’t carry your favorite color in the store, it may be possible for the associate to order it online.
  • Price: If you have a strict budget, local stores can sometimes offer discounts to meet your budget. They have a vested interest in making sure you pick a shoe you are happy with.

Finally, enjoy the experience. You’ll rarely find a sales person at a department store invested in which shoes you pick, for running or otherwise. These associates care and can offer great encouragement and advice.

FTR_Shoes_TracktoTrail

Your new shoes should last anywhere from 200 – 500 miles. If you want a long-lasting shoe, be sure to tell the person who gives you a fitting. My shoes above are still going strong, from treadmill to trail, at almost 400 miles (can you believe they’ve seen a marathon and half marathon?). Keep a log of your miles to determine when it’s time to replace. If you start having random injuries, then it’s definitely time.

Once I find a shoe I LOVE, I stick with it for as long as I can. I found my Brooks Ghost 7’s and I have been able to purchase discounted pairs online. Expensive initially, but they work for me and now I’m able to save some money. That’s why the fitting was so important!

Any advice I missed? Please feel free to leave it in the comments below! This will be the first in a series of blog posts this month, so please check back for more tips.

Cheers to the New Year!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

 

Now Playing – Funky and Fun Running Playlist

FTR Funky Run
When I’ve had a long day at work and I still have to log a few miles, I need a solid list of pump up songs that just make me feel like smiling.

That’s why I made this playlist. Super fun, super catchy, with a hint of bubble gum pop, funk, classics and nothing too crazy. I’m not a really big popular music fan, but some songs just stick with you, and I’m totally okay with that. Good for the treadmill or the track.

Watch out though, you might catch yourself cheesin’ big time mid-run (not that that’s EVER happened to me or anything).

What are your favorite songs to jam out to?

Now Playing: My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground

Now Playing Running Playlist

I’ve been wanting to share some of my favorite tunes for a while now, so I’m super excited about this post!

Music is something that has always inspired me and been there through it all – from my passionate dancing days to my angsty teenage years; from loathed hours of studying in the university library to the best memories I have of undergrad. Now, it continues to keep me going, especially with running. Kudos to all of you who can run without listening to anything – I am not one of those people and, quite frankly, I don’t know how the running community lived before the Walkman.

Anyway, I feel like it’s pretty common to either listen to rap or death metal when working out, and that’s great if that’s what you like. However, I’ve never really been big on either persuasion; I like a lot of alternative music (and for some reason, I find the Foo Fighters to be perfect for running), so I put together some playlists that I could fall into pace with.

This is an upbeat list that I use on a shorter, quicker pace run (5 miles or less), or if I’m playing around with the speed settings on the treadmill.

By the way, the Spotify app is free on your phone, if you’d like to try this playlist for yourself.

What can I say? I like what I like! For me, music that has a nice melody and variety, but also a somewhat-consistent beat helps me concentrate.

What songs or artists are among your favorites for running or working out? I would love to give a listen to something new.

On Fighting Burnout…

Those moments where you want to give up? Yes, they do happen (and sometimes very often).

This past month, I ran over 100 miles – more miles than I’ve ever run before. I’ve been trying not to let it get to me, but, to be honest, it has. Not only has this been taking a bit of a physical toll on me, but it has been mentally tiresome. Though I love to run and I look forward to accomplishing my goal, I feel like running has consumed my life as of late.

Given that the task of running a marathon still seems like a large feat at this point, I thought it would be helpful to share with you some of the things I’ve been doing when I feel like quitting.

Fighting Burnout

Set Aside Time for Rest
There is an appropriate time for everything. Set aside a clear time to work and then rest. For example, I want to rest now, but I can’t because it’s not the right time yet. I told myself I would do this and now I have to keep going until I finish. It’s okay to sit on the couch for a weekend and watch House of Cards, but get the hard work done first so you can savor it. Side note: see the beach up there? Well, I found it all-too-fitting for this post, since it’s my idea of rest. I’ll at the beach soon, actually, and it’s the carrot in front of me for the next two weeks of intense training.

Focus on Small Landmarks
Set little goals for yourself and celebrate a small victory when you achieve them. It keeps you mentally engaged.

Mix Things Up
I’ve been running a different variation of the same route almost every time I visit the park, which has surprisingly made the miles fly by a little quicker. It keeps things fresh and I stay alert in order to track my mileage.

Find Your Person
Remember accountability? It’s vital. Find a friend, coworker, redditor, spouse, whatever works for you. Just find someone who knows you well enough to discern when you need a break, but isn’t afraid to call you on the carpet if you truly are not working to your full potential (like Meredith and Cristina from Grey’s).

Think Positive
I saved the most important for last! Personally, I am struggling with thinking negatively about running, and worry that I’m constantly injuring myself, which gives me an excuse to procrastinate and put off runs. I have been voicing these negative thoughts with an unfortunate frequency, so much that my husband has noticed and had to call me out on it in an encouraging, supportive way. While expressing your honest emotions isn’t a bad thing, it’s all too easy to cross the line between expressing honesty and bathing in negativity. The practical way to handle it? Yoga teachers are always preaching it – acknowledge the thoughts, then let go of them, reframing them in a positive light. This mental practice serves us well in so many aspects of life. Prayer helps, too.

My point is that we all have doubts. We all have moments where we are our own worst enemy. I want to encourage you all and remind myself – don’t ever give up!

These times teach us perseverance, and perhaps that is why they are so important in the training process.

How do you fight burnout? I’m genuinely curious.

Cheers to persevering another week!

(Photo Credit: Kimberly Richards)

7 Simple Ways to Prepare for a Race

With the new year in full swing, I’ve seen a lot of friends sign up for half marathons, commit to cycling races and set new fitness goals. If you’re one of them, go you!

I hope you’ll all stay on track and fulfill your aspirations. Based on what it took for me to fulfill my aspiration to run a half marathon in 2014, I put together a list of things you should know if you’re planning to do the same in 2015.

These nuggets of wisdom are not mutually exclusive to running a half marathon, either. Whether your goal is working up to running a mile, racing the MS150, mastering a crazy yoga pose, or simply trying a new activity, there are takeaways here, too.

Free To Run 7 simple ways to prepare for a half marathon

7. Have a plan/make a running calendar…
And stick to it (or try to). It’s okay to move things around a bit as life happens, but this helped me plan ahead and kept me from making excuses. Using this schedule as a guide, I made appointments on my computer calendar, which I printed out and put on the fridge at home. That way, it was everywhere and I couldn’t forget! I also used Nike+ to track my progress; the app is free for your phone. It felt super-satisfying to check workouts off of the list and see the miles add up. The caveat: you should not run more than 2 days in a row, so organize accordingly.

6. Know that it’s okay to look awkward.
Let it be known that I feel like I look awkward when I run. For a long time, this was one of many excuses I used to avoid running altogether – I was actually afraid of embarrassing myself. Eventually, I learned that most runners don’t look like someone in a Nike ad and that my embarrassment was all mental. Doing something positive for your mind and body is no easy task, and you shouldn’t worry about what other people think about it. Besides, if someone judges you for the way you look during any activity, then they’re not someone you want to impress anyway. Plus, they can try it and see how awesome they look.

5. Pick up the essentials.
The essentials means shoes (!) and a couple of good, moisture-wicking staples for each season. You don’t have to buy everything (or the best of everything), but your shoes are VERY important, so don’t skimp on those. For example, I spent about $110 on shoes, $25 on socks, $40 on tanks/shirts, and $30 on running capris. All in all, you can probably find most of what you need for under $200 total if you shop sales/discount. You can also get by for a while by just buying shoes and using what you already have to work out in. That’s a fairly low cost to enter (compared to cycling, yoga, etc.).

4. Remember: rewards are helpful, but intrinsic motivation is key.
External rewards (like a new outfit or yummy bowl of ice cream) are good for temporary motivation, but training for a long distance race is all about endurance. You need some kind of intrinsic motivational mantra to keep you going for the long-haul. For me, this looks like mentally reminding myself about how I’m accomplishing a goal or how I actually enjoy running to clear my head (a concept I never understood before running regularly). Figure out what you enjoy about running and remind yourself of it as much as you can.

3. Take breaks, if necessary.
You might think that to really be “running” you have to be running full-out the whole time. This mentality doesn’t really work for long distance running, because you have to pace yourself. Taking a short walking break when you’re getting water helps you rejuvenate, even if your mile times end up being a bit slower. You can take a couple of days off, too, if you feel like your legs are tired or you’re barely making it through your run. These breaks don’t make you a weaker runner; they help you get stronger.

2. Happen to your doubts.
This is where the idea of running becoming a mental sport comes in. Many times on my journey, doubt has come creeping in. I can’t let it take root, so I proactively work against it. Learn to recognize when you’re doubting yourself and tell yourself why the doubts are false. If it’s really tough to get over your doubts, tell a friend who can help reaffirm that the doubts are lies. Accountability always helps.

1. To achieve, commit.
The hardest part of running a long race is the training. There are a lot of sacrifices involved – sleeping in Saturday mornings, lazy evenings, sitting down painlessly, money for shoes and race fees and sometimes even time with “bae”. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to skip one run, and let it turn into several. We millennials like instant gratification and results; you won’t get that from running, so you need commitment to keep you going when you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. The truth is, you won’t get anywhere without commitment.

Do you have any pieces of sage wisdom to offer? I would love to hear about your experiences.

Whatever race you’re running in 2015, stay committed. Cheers!

What Do You Mean – I Have to Eat While I’m Running?

Recently, I’ve been getting into my longer runs and I’m starting to learn how to “fuel” as they call it. Apparently, you need to eat whilst running to avoid getting too burned out to finish the race. When I first read this, I was confused, so I have a short break down of what’s worked for me so far and what hasn’t.

Eating before your runs: It’s a good idea to give yourself a boost before you leave for your run (I’ve read somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour) to consume some calories if you haven’t eaten recently. Basically, I will eat anything that normally sits well with my stomach, as long as it’s not a super unhealthy snack like Blue Bell ice cream.

This includes:

  • Small bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios with milk
  • HEB Fruit Bars (somewhat sugary, but sit really well and don’t weigh me down)
  • Granola bar
  • Small smoothie
  • Oatmeal

Smoothie Photo

 

By the way, my favorite smoothie recipe is this one from The Yummy Life; I love that they can be frozen in mason jars and have a variety of different filling ingredients.

Eating during a run: After researching different options, the different gel options seemed a little cumbersome and disgusting, so I decided to try the different chew options available to me. Since my best friend introduced Clif Bars to me in the 9th grade, I have been a big fan of the brand and decided to try Clif Shot Bloks first. I had an open package lying around, so I obliged and took a photo.

Clif Shot Bloks Photo

So far, they’ve worked pretty well, though my stomach has been a little upset afterward a time or two. I also tried Sport Beans, which I really like! They are basically salty jelly beans. Sounds weird, but it feels like a little reward after every couple of miles. I’ve tried bringing Gatorade in my fuel belt as well, but it seems to overwhelm my system and I feel sluggish. I’ve been sticking to water the last few long runs I’ve had and that seems to work. Really, this isn’t too complicated, so my best advice is just go with your gut (no pun intended) on what you think will work, and make sure you test this stuff out before race day.

Eating after a run: It’s apparently important to eat something afterward to aid in the recovery process. I am usually hungry anyway, so I usually eat a meal. I either plan for brunch with protein and carbs or burgers for dinner. Everyone raves about chocolate milk, but I haven’t found this to be as important as people make it out to me. It naturally occurs to me that I’m starving (because, duh, I just ran 6+ miles and burned a meal’s worth of calories), so I eat something like this:

White Enchiladas

Those are White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chiles, in case you’re wondering.

My main point is it’s important to give yourself some fuel pre-run and refill your metaphorical tank while you’re running. Don’t do it like I did and read Runner’s World trying to overanalyze this. That can be kind of like WebMD. Just do what works for you, try different things. Sometimes, things won’t sit well, but it’s not going to ruin your run; you’ll be okay.

That said, what fuel works for you? Tell me in the comments. After my race, I’m probably going to be looking at different options. We’ll see.

Step 1: Finding THE Shoes

adidas supernoval glide 6 boost women's neutral running shoes

This post is coming a little out of order, but I felt the others were more time sensitive.

I’ve learned that the first thing you should do before doing any kind of running is finding the right shoes. Don’t search the internet for shoe reviews, either. Go to a running store (like Luke’s Locker) and get fitted.

The day finally came for my to retire my adidas Marathon 10’s that I bought for $60 at Academy.

My experience went something like this:
I decided to go randomly on my lunch break. I didn’t give myself a budget, because I just wanted to find good shoes. I’ve also heard this isn’t the place to cheap out.
I visited Luke’s Locker. An associate, we’ll call him Jim, helped me.
I gave him all the necessary information he needed about my feet. Note: it’s a great idea to bring in your current running shoes. I didn’t.

  • I always get wear on the outside of my shoe soles, which means I underpronate. Apparently, this is a typical problem for people with high arches, so I assumed I had high arches; however, I have low to normal archesthis is exactly why you should get fitted!

He sized my foot.

  • Running shoes are apparently supposed to be 1-2 sizes larger and have about an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I normally wear a 6.5-7, and he put me in 8.5’s. My Marathon 10’s were a 7.5… oops.

Then he gave me some weird socks that are specific to the left and right foot. Who knew?
He disappeared to the back room to get some shoes.
When he came out, he gave me a pair to try on.
When I put them on, he took me to a treadmill to analyze the way I run to pick out other possibilities.
Jim disappears again.
He returns with 3 different pairs. I try on 1 on each foot to compare. The first, a pair of New Balances; the second, a pair of Mizunos.

  • I liked different things about each.
    The Mizunos were stable, but made my left ankle feel weird.
    The New Balances were comfortable, but felt so lightweight that I questioned whether they would be up to par for longer runs.
  • We kept the New Balances to compare with the last pair, which were:

adidas Supernova Glide 6 Boost shoes

These were my favorite. Of course, they were also the most expensive. I desperately wanted to deviate from my trend of buying adidas running shoes, but I loved them from first step. They had the right amount of support but I didn’t feel like I was wearing a giant pillow (I’ve tried Asics and that’s what they feel like). Apparently, these shoes are neutral, which is not the same as having a neutral foot. Jim said it should feel like I was running on a slipper. Yes, that’s exactly what they feel like. Mission: Accomplished.

One thing I should mention is that Luke’s Locker is a specialty store, but Foot Locker actually was running a special. I put the shoes on hold and discovered this after I left the store, which led me to buy them at Foot Locker. Jim was great, and I even called to see if they would match the price (some stores do, and he did spend time with me, so I wanted him to get credit), but alas, they would not. I ended up switching the shoes out for an 8 because my heel started slipping out a lot the first time I wore them, even after tightening the laces, but other than that, I saved about $20 from doing it that way.

I ran my first run in the new shoes on the 4th of July, with no knee trouble. They feel great. Plently of room in the toes and support in the heel and arch area. I am pretty sure that’s what you should look for. And I was able to get a pretty color (purple, my favorite), even though that shouldn’t be a deciding factor.