Runner’s Report Card: Winter 2017

March 9, 2017

Every season, I put new running products, gadgets, fuel and apparel to the test in my Runner’s Report Card. I tried a number of new products during the winter, and I’m excited to share my honest thoughts about them with you. Although I did receive some of these products for free, I did not receive compensation nor do I receive benefits for writing about any of these products outside of my five-year Run Happy Ambassador relationship with Brooks Running. Let’s get to it!

Here is my grading scale:

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Here’s a glimpse at the products on today’s winter 2017 report card:

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1. StrideBox: A

Monthly subscription boxes of goodies that show up at your doorstep seem to be everywhere these days. I’ve talked a lot about the POPSUGAR Must Have Box that’s focused on fashion and lifestyle brands. I’ve even seen boxes geared for pets. But how about a box designed for runners? Yes, please.

The folks at StrideBox sent me two boxes to try for February and March. As a monthly subscriber for $15 per month, you receive a curated box of running products that include everything from nutrition items to running accessories. The idea is you can try many potentially new-to-you running products to discover what you love most for training, workouts and races.

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I found these boxes to be worth the value and really fun to open. My February box was geared toward winter running and arrived with a number of winter running essentials, including throwaway gloves, hand warmers, tea for runners and more. As you can expect, there will be some items you love and some you’ll learn are not for you. For instance, I was really excited to try the Win sports laundry detergent, but didn’t love the PR Bars or their ingredients.

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The March box was also a fun surprise to look forward to. It seemed to have a nutrition theme since March is National Nutrition Month. There was a delicious Jimmy Bar protein bar, vanilla orange gel from Boom Nutrition, electrolyte drinks (nuun and Ultima Replenisher), a sample from Peanut Butter & Co. (which I love), 2Toms blister shield and a zippered wrist wallet for stashing items on the run.

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Each StrideBox comes with a handy Stride Guide card that outlines all the products, websites and social media information. It also comes with a second card that contains a recipe and training tip. The StrideBox is a great product to treat yourself to and would also make for an excellent gift (three month or one-year subscription) for a runner in your life.

2. The Stinger recovery tool from Recoup Fitness: B

Although I haven’t been doing very much running since having my baby and recovering from the delivery, my return to exercise has definitely left my muscles tight and cranky. Thankfully, I have an arsenal of recovery tools to come to the rescue. The Stinger is the newest addition to my collection thanks to a gift from the Recoup Fitness team who knew I’d need all the help I could get for my running comeback. It combines massage and icing to deliver a two in one recovery solution.

Runner report card winter 2017 on
Runner report card winter 2017 on

It looks like a shiny silver lacrosse ball or ball you’d play pool with. You place it in the freezer for two hours, and then it can be used for up to six hours of ice massage. You can hold the base in your palm and then roll the round part over body parts like shoulders, arms, calves, quads and more. Or, you can take the ball out of the holder to get a deeper massage, such as rolling your foot or hips over the ball.

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Yes, I put mine in the freezer right next to all the breast milk I’m storing up.

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I like this product and think it is a clever alternative to other simple massage balls on the market. I’m not sure that I would favor it over the foam roller and Tiger Tail Curve Ball (which is why I gave it a B), but I think many runners would like this product and find it useful. At $39.99, it is competitive with other recovery tools, but may seem a bit pricey for others who believe simply using a good ole’ lacrosse ball will provide the same relief.

3. Paleo Simplified Bar: A

I love supporting small, local businesses. When I saw these bars at my local grocery store and read their ingredients, I was excited to try them. I am consistently looking for clean snacks that have real ingredients. I bought several bars in several flavors, and immediately fell in love with the Nutty Fruity Bliss flavor.

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My favorite thing about these, besides the fact that they are made close to where I live, is the ingredients. You know what everything is and they are clean.

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Image from

The one downfall to these bars is that they are $3 a pop, which is really expensive for what amounts to a piece of fruit leather with protein. If you follow a paleo diet though, your belly will thank you.

4. Brooks Running Ghost Crops and Racerback Tank: A

It’s no secret that I love Brooks Running. Nearly every piece of running apparel I own is Brooks. I’m blessed to be part of their ambassador program and test {free} products each month. But more importantly, I try to embody the “run happy” spirit that is the foundation of their brand. Of all the items I’ve tried during the past year (excluding shoes), these Ghost Crops are probably my favorite. These colorful, lightweight tights are like a second skin. They are so thin and breathable and are extremely flattering with a higher, compression waist. Not only are they perfect for running in cooler temps, but they are also great for everyday cross-training, including yoga, barre, strength training and even spinning. I wore them to a spin class where I typically sweat buckets, and I wasn’t overheated wearing them. I also wore them to spectate at a recent race so my runners could be sure to spot me!

I also love the Ghost Racerback Tank you can see pictured below for two key reasons: First, being a runner in Florida, this tank is extremely lightweight and slightly see-through. It is excellent for workouts where the heat and humidity are high (which is every damn day here). Secondly, now that I’m trying to bounce back from pregnancy, the loose fit hides unwanted bulge while still looking slimming. I know lots of women out there can appreciate that. Functional and fashion-forward gets both the Brooks Crops and Tank two thumbs up from me. The crops retail at $120 (pricey, I know!) and the tank is $40.

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5. Topo Athletic ST-2 Running Shoes: B

The only running shoes I wear are made by Brooks Running, however, I recently won a pair of Topo Athletic ST-2 running shoes through an online giveaway. I like to be knowledgeable about other running shoe brands since I work with and coach many different kinds of runners. I’ve enjoyed learning more about this particular brand.

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Photo credit:

The Topo Athletic ST-2s are extremely lightweight. As a runner who needs a little stability, they are far too neutral and don’t have enough stability for me to run or do plyometric type workouts in, but I’ve really found that I enjoy them for lifting weights, spinning and just walking around the block. I like the large toe box and the fit. They look and feel good on. For runners with a neutral gait that like to feel the ground beneath them, these would be a good option. They would also be good as a shoe for speed work exclusively given their lack of support. With a retail price of $90, they are also a good value.

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Wearing my Topos during a recent strength training workout

6. SnackNation: B+

Let’s be honest. I’ve been doing a lot of {too much} snacking the past eight weeks since my baby was born (like when I ate a pan of brownies and then continued eating and eating and eating bad stuff). Breastfeeding left me ravenous, and it took me more than a month to get control of my cravings and start filling the extra calories I need with better quality food choices. You can imagine my happiness to receive a box of snacks that are healthier and err on the side of clean, organic ingredients from an interesting company called SnackNation.

We’ve already talked about monthly running boxes today, so why not talk snacks?

Runner report card winter 2017 on
Runner report card winter 2017 on

I had never heard of SnackNation before they reached out to me, and I love the idea behind their brand. The company’s founders got fed up with vending machines and workplaces rarely having healthy options available. They saw a growing need for healthy snack delivery in offices and launched SnackNation in 2013 to address this gap and to help aid employee health and well-being.

Here’s a peek at what was inside my box …

They offer both monthly box delivery to companies as well as to individuals for varying prices ($24.99/month for individuals and $249/month for companies depending on size selection). I love that for every SnackNation box shipped, the company donates 10 meals to help end hunger through Feeding America.

They also have this healthy snack tool which is pretty cool. It gives you 121 healthy snack ideas that you can search by calorie ranges.

You can get a free box to try here.

Well, that’s a wrap. See you next semester. Class dismissed. Time for a run.

Some of the products I reviewed in this post were sent to me free of charge as noted. I did not receive compensation to write about this information, and I was not under an obligation to write about these products. As a Brooks Running Run Happy Ambassador, I do receive free products to test each month and work with the team on a variety of running topics and products to share about. All opinions about any products shared on are unbiased, honest, uncensored … and always will be. Brooks Running links do contain affiliate links.

What new running products have you tried lately that you love? If you’ve tried any of the products mentioned above, share your thoughts on them.


Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

Those crops are so cute! The bright pattern is really adorable and eye-catching. I have been getting Stride Box as well and I really enjoy trying samples of different products. The Snack box looks great also!


You need to stop by the Brooks store and get a pair (jealous you are right by them!). I knew you were a StrideBox fan which gave them an extra thumbs up in my book. The SnackNation box was awesome. It is nearly gone thanks to Mr. rUnladylike sneaking items out of it every day. LOL


So the grade for Snack Nation is???? I’m guessing it’s a B or better 🙂
I love these report cards and I can agree with you on StrideBox and the recovery ball. I’m testing out a pair of new Nike’s (which I NEVER run in) so we shall see…
Have a great weekend with your Bella!!!


Ahh! Yes, I gave it a B+ which you should be able to see now. The reason I didn’t give it an A is because some of the items in the box don’t all have real ingredients, but most of them do and the concept is just so cool. I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten in the box. The only problem is my husband has eaten a ton of it so I didn’t get to try everything. LOL