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February Favorites: 5 Fitness Finds

February 28, 2014

How we train, what we eat and when we rest and recover all have a huge impact on our performance. But so does the gear we use every day to be successful. Each month, I’m sharing my favorite finds for running, triathlon and general fitness that are helping me train and race happy, motivated and healthy. Here are my favorite finds from February. (Thanks to some of you for the recommendations!)

1. Yurbuds
https://yurbuds.com/
This month, I finally stepped out of the dark ages when it comes to my running music. Running with music is a must-have for me. While I know many prefer to run to the sounds of their footsteps, music is one of my secret weapons to keep me motivated and mentally strong during the toughest parts of runs and races. Since 2005, I’ve been using the ear buds that came with my iPod and iPhone. I must mess with them 100 times during every run. They constantly come loose from my ears and sometimes even fall out. During the past few months, I’ve been asking other runners what they think the best ear buds are, and they all responded with a resounding answer: Yurbuds.

So earlier this month, I went to my local running store and finally bought a pair of pink ones. The verdict? I am in love. How could I have been running without these for so long? I got the most basic version: the Inspire for Women. They come with 2 sizes for your ears. The smaller size fits me perfect and doesn’t move at all while I’m running. The sound is great … better than my iPhone ear buds, and I love that they come in a variety of different colors. The price is also right at only $29.99 for the most basic version.

2. Altra Running Shoes
http://www.altrarunning.com/
I was introduced to Altra Running shoes at the end of January. They were a sponsor for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in Amelia Island that I ran last month. I’d never heard of Altra before the race. They sent me a pair of their Intuitions to try for being a ZOOMA ambassador. I had no obligation to wear them or write about them, but after talking to one of their shoe reps and learning more about them at the expo, I was intrigued. I learned a few things about how this is different than other running shoes that made me want to take them for a spin: 1) Altras have a zero drop, which means the heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground. 2) The toe box is round, allowing your toes to spread out naturally rather than be wedged into a more V-shaped toe box. 3) Altras offers the same cushioning in the forefoot as it does in the heel, making it more cushioned.

At first, I just put them on to walk around in while running errands and traveling. They felt like pillows on my feet. I liked the way they felt so much that I decided to take them on a short run. And I liked them on the run. I now alternate them into my training about once every week or two, predominately for my speed work. Although the Intuition is a neutral shoe, they provide a stability wedge for those like me who need extra support. They also have a stability shoe in their line. If you’re a mid-foot striker who likes a more minimal weight shoe with a lot of cushion, you should totally check these out. (For those who wear a more traditional shoe, you will want to ease into them.) They aren’t the most attractive looking shoe, but I really love the rounder, wider toe box and the comfort.

3. Brooks Running Socks (All of them!)
http://www.brooksrunning.com/womens-running-socks/womens-apparel-socks,default,sc.html
As a Brooks Run Happy Ambassador, I get to test various products each month and share what I like (or don’t like) about them. This month, Brooks sent me several pairs of socks to try: Their training day socks, race day socks and compression socks. As someone who wears lots of different brands of socks, I was excited to try some socks from my favorite running brand, especially since the only ones I currently had were their everyday wear socks that I only use for cycling. I’ve worn all 3 pairs a lot this month and they are awesome. This weekend, I’ll be racing in my pink and white race day socks. The colors and style are visually appealing, but more importantly, they feel great on my feet and are the perfect thickness. If you are looking for new running socks, I highly recommend these. I also love that they come in 2-packs instead of just single pairs. Additionally, what I like about the compression socks is that they are not too long for me. Some compression socks, like Pro Compression, are slightly too long, which requires me to fold them over under my knee. These are the perfect length and have helped me with recovery after long runs.

4. The Book Thief
http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Thief-Markus-Zusak/dp/0375842209
For those of you who have been reading runladylike.com for a while, you know that I like to beat the boredom of cycling workouts on the trainer by reading my Kindle (which I position on my aero bars) during rides of all durations. This month, I downloaded and read The Book Thief and absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a book to kill time on the trainer or stationary bike, this is a great one.

5. Pepsom Salt
http://www.pepsom.com/
I love to take an Epsom salt bath every week or two to relax my muscles. I found this at my local grocery store in the section where medicines and other sports products are sold. I pour about 2 cups in a hot bath and soak for about 20 minutes (reading my Kindle while doing so – see The Book Thief above). What I like about this over regular Epsom salt is that it has peppermint in it, which is both soothing and smells good. Call me a sucker, but I also like that it is marketed to athletes. I believe a bag is in the $5-6 range.

Did you try any new gear in February that you love? If you’ve tried any of these 5 finds, what did you think? Do you have any favorite books you would recommend for reading on the trainer?

Comments

Jojo @ RunFastEatLots
Reply

I’ve only heard good things about Yurbuds, and I want to try them out. I usually just use those white Apple headphones, since we have a million pairs and they seem to work well for my ears. I’ve tried Beats before and they were terrible for me. Kept falling out and sounded like I was running underwater. I like that the Yurbuds come in pink! (I’m a sucker for pink lol)

Megan (Running Toward the Prize)
Reply

GREAT finds! I love my Yurbuds – only headphones that actually stay in my ears! I’ve also been very intrigued by the Altra shoes – glad to hear you are liking them!

Alice
Reply

I’m really interested that you read on the trainer – I would love to start doing that but am worried I won’t push myself hard enough as I’ll be concentrating on the book and having to take my hand off to turn the page! I guess you don’t really find that?

Also I’m interested that you only use the Altra shoes every week or two – do you wear different shoes for different runs? And what are the shoes you mainly use like?

Sorry for all the questions! A v interesting set up of favourites that left me intrigued….!

rUnladylike
Reply

Hi Alice! Since I read with a Kindle, I don’t have to move my hands to turn pages, I just tap the screen with my finger which is on the aero bar right next to it. I try to be very aware of not zoning out too much, and I glance at my cadence about every 5 minutes to make sure I’m not off track.

I run in the Brooks Pure Cadence about 90 percent of the time. I do some recovery runs in te Brooks Transcend and have only started using these on speed days some of the time because I just like the way they feel. I’m not typically a fan of switching up shoes too much, but this is working for me at the moment. Hope that helps! :)

Ashley @ Brocblog
Reply

I’m always looking for books and running socks, I will have to check both of these out!

andrea1626
Reply

I got some purple Yurbuds last summer and have loved them!

Angie
Reply

Thanks for the recommendations. The Brooks Training Socks are sold out in size medium so hopefully they make more! I read the Book Thief last year and it is in my top 5 list. It is one of those books that you hate reading so fast because it is going to end. It is a moving and amazing book!

Ali K. @ Hit the Ground Running
Reply

I’m in love with my baby blue Yurbuds! They’re the best. I just finished The Book Thief last month; such a wonderful read. The movie was great, too!

Lacy @ Running Limit-less
Reply

I have a pair of Yurbuds and don’t know what I did before them. I think I went through over 6 pairs of earbuds trying to find ones that fit. These are so amazing and I never have to mess with them. I have the Royal Blue and love them. I’m so bad about books, but I love series books and I did start reading 50 Shades of Grey and if you want something to hold your attention this definitely will. I love trying socks but run in Pro Compression marathon socks so anything else really doesn’t do me any good. An Epsom salt bath is the best but I will definitely have to try the Pepsom Salt. Great list!

Hailey
Reply

I take an Epsom bath at least twice a week. Love them! But peppermint!? That sounds super relaxing! I just bought the highly recommended book “The Fault In Our Stars” so I can read it before the movie comes out this summer. And I don’t run with music outside, but obviously on the treadmill it’s a must, and I love Yurbuds for that! I bought my first pair a few years ago before they had the ones specifically designed for women and only had red and white back then I believe so I’m thinking I need an update with a new and fun color :)

Laura Edwards
Reply

I love my yurbuds. I have a pair like yours, but I don’t run with them anymore; in December, I upgraded to the yurbuds wireless sport earphones. At $130, they’re pricey, but now that I have them, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It’s great not having to deal with cords whipping every which way or run them up my shirt, especially for long runs or speed workouts. And the right earbud has buttons for changing the volume or song or pausing the music, which comes in handy if your phone or iPod is stashed away. http://yurbuds.com/products/wireless/

rUnladylike
Reply

You have totally tempted me, Laura!!! Those sound awesome!

meghan @ little girl in the big world
Reply

I need to try out the Altra shoes. I still haven’t because of my big shoe fear. I’ll have to do what you did and wear them for errands at first. And I need to start taking more Epsom Salt baths. Do you do them instead of or in addition to ice baths?

rUnladylike
Reply

Definitely in addition to. You don’t want to use heat right after a workout or if you are experiencing acute pain. I like them more at the end of a tough week or to loosen up muscles. Let me know what you think when you try your Altra’s. I heart mine A LOT!

Abby @ BackAtSquareZero
Reply

One of my 5th graders gave me the Book Thief a few years ago. I am interested to see how the movie compares.

Kristin @ A Mom on the Run
Reply

I love my yurbuds too!

I haven’t run in the Altra’s yet, I’m planning to try a short run in them this afternoon though, I am looking forward to it!

I’ll have to check out the book, I’ve been in a reading slump lately.

Lex @ Flecks of Lex
Reply

The Yurbuds look super cute! I haven’t tried them yet, but now I think I definitely should!

Might give the Pepsom Salt bath a try. Sounds kind of amazing.

Katie
Reply

I got a pair of Yurbuds about a year ago, but didn’t love them because they wouldn’t stay in my ears like promised. I finally contacted them, sent them a photo of my ear, and they sent me larger sized caps (for free!). Turns out my ears needed size 7 caps to get the “lock”. I never would have guessed. Now they never fall out.

I’m currently debating trying a pair of Altras because my Saucony’s seem to be rubbing my little toe joints wrong.

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