A “New” Garmin Record

Simon is dead; long live Simon Mark II.

(For those of you new to my blog, or for those of you who may have forgotten, since it’s been so dang long since I’ve written about him, Simon is what I call my Garmin Forerunner.)

My beloved first running watch kicked the bucket last year. It was a slow death… taking longer and longer to connect to GPS, deciding he didn’t want to save the occasional run, acting erratically.

The final straw came at the QEOP10K last September, when I ran my first international race and was excited to have my run saved in Garmin Connect for posterity, only to have Simon basically give me a two-fingered salute after I crossed the finish line, crapping out without saving anything. Oh well.

I found a replacement – a bigger, shinier, fancier Forerunner 230 – on Groupon Goods a few months after The Bairn arrived, and have been wearing it on my very occasional runs.

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It turns out the timing for a new watch ended up being pretty perfect.

I feel like I’m almost starting over with my running post-Bairn. I didn’t run at all between said QEOP10K last September and the end of May, and since then have been getting used to a body that’s a bit different since pregnancy and childbirth, on top of getting my running groove back.

Last Sunday I ran a mile for the first time in who knows how long. That is, a mile without needing a walk break. It was awesome. It was a gorgeous fall morning, and I set out on a new-to-me route with the intention of just taking it easy and seeing how I felt. I made it a quarter-mile and felt good, so I decided to try for a half-mile. Made it to that no problem, and thought “what the heck?” I made it a full mile, walked a half-mile, ran another quarter-mile, then walked the last .25 for a nice, even 2 mile excursion.

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Now, hitting that mile felt like a huge accomplishment in itself, but as a bonus, Simon Mark II gave me a fanfare at the end of my run because I had run my “fastest mile.” At first I was a bit dumbfounded, thinking back to the glorious day when I ran my current fastest mile, but then remembered that I was wearing a whole new watch, with no memory of my blazing record.

As I work my way oh-so-slowly back to running regularly and rebuilding my base, having little moments of fanfare with digital bling makes the whole thing so much more exciting and motivating. Old Simon wouldn’t have given me any fanfare for running an 11:18 mile, and that’s totally okay. But the bonus props from New Simon gives me a little mental push to keep working at beating my new PR. And there’ll be “new” records to break too – longest run, fastest 5K, etc. It’s like having a clean running slate, and I think that’s just what I need right now.

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Review: Stridebox

Last summer I splurged and bought myself a sample gift box from Runnerbox (you can read my review here). Anyone who’s read this blog knows I’m a gearhead, and a box full of goodies was just too hard to pass up. I was so tempted to jump on the subscription box bandwagon, but wanted to give it a test run before I signed my money away.

As I wrote in my review, there were two running-themed boxes to choose from – Runnerbox and Stridebox. I chose the sample of Runnerbox because, at the time, Stridebox didn’t offer a one-time gift option. Well, I don’t remember how I found myself on the Stridebox website recently (honest!) but it turns out they now offer a one-time gift box! Hurrah!

Not being able to contain my curiosity at how Stridebox stacks up to Runnerbox – and having a PayPal balance big enough to cover the cost, thanks to a recent ebay sale – I signed up for the gift option and eagerly awaited my delivery.

The Stridebox was roughly the same size as the Runnerbox - 8" x 5 1/4" x 2 1/2"

The Stridebox was roughly the same size as the Runnerbox – 8″ x 5 1/4″ x 2 1/2″

Like Runnerbox, Stridebox includes a motivational quote on the box

Like Runnerbox, Stridebox includes a motivational quote on the box

"Gift from Dana" - I have to admit that made me laugh!

“Gift from: Dana” – I have to admit that made me laugh!

That card sitting on top of the box’s contents is the “Stride Guide,” which explains each item in the box. I love this feature! Runnerbox didn’t have one in the box I ordered.

Flip side of the Stride Guide and the cute sticker beneath it

Flip side of the Stride Guide and the cute sticker beneath it

All the contents

All the contents

Here’s a list of my spoils:

-Chike high-protein iced coffee (Coffee? Gooooooood.)
-Vitalyte Chia Surge gel (I’m a little wary but always willing to try new forms of energy.)
-Stridebox sticker (The 8-year-old in me is so happy about this.)
-Picky Bars cookie dough energy bar (Cookie Dough? Goooooood.)
-Nuun tab (Gooooooooooooood. (#stayhydrated))
-Joshua Tree organic lip balm (It’s winter and my lips are sad. I’m looking forward to trying this.)
-Skratch Labs apples and cinnamon hydration mix (Says it’s best served hot. I’m intrigued.)
-iGlove tech-friendly running gloves (So goooooooooooood.)

To sum up:

Gooooooood. (source)

Gooooooood. (source)

Okay. Now that I’ve had the chance to explore both types of box, let’s do a quick run-down of which product wins in the following categories – price, design, number of items, and value for money:

[Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this review, nor was I provided either product for the purpose of a review. These are all my own opinions, and I wrote the review purely because I was curious.]

Price – Stridebox

Runnerbox is $19.95 bimonthly (plus $6.95 shipping) for a “perpetual” subscription; price jumps to $21.25 per box for a 1-year subscription, or $22.25 for 6 months. Gift box was $24.95, plus $6.95 for shipping.

Stridebox is $15 per month (free shipping) plus a $15 sign-up fee*, which I don’t remember seeing back in June when I first investigated these boxes. Gift box was a flat $15.

I’ve got to hand it to Stridebox… even if you look at the costs bimonthly, Stridebox just makes the whole thing simple with its flat rate and free shipping.

*EDIT: After I posted this review, the founder of Stridebox reached out to me to explain the $15 sign-up fee. It turns out that $15 fee pays for your first box, which is shipped to you within 5 days. Before, some subscribers would have to wait almost a month to get their first box, and doing things this way ensures that you get your gear sooner, no matter what time of month you sign up. In my original review, I said that the signup fee was “a little lame,” and, now that I understand why it exists, I felt the need to retract that statement!

Box design – Stridebox

Alright, this is a silly category that doesn’t really matter. However, the design on the Sridebox made me smile, whereas the Runnerbox was purely utilitarian:

photo(1)Number of items inside – Runnerbox*

I got 13 items in my Runnerbox, and 8 in my Stridebox.

*There is an asterisk on this winner because, if you subscribe, Stridebox comes every month, whereas Runnerbox comes every two months. Runnerbox is also roughly twice as expensive. So, if you look at what you get in two months’ worth of Stridebox, you’re essentially getting the same number of items, or slightly more, as Runnerbox, for roughly the same price spread over the two months.

Value for money – Stridebox

When you look at the rough cost per item, Stridebox wins. 8 items at a cost of $15 comes to about $1.88 per item, whereas Runnerbox’s was $2.45 for 13 items at a cost of $31.90 (when you include shipping). Even if you look at the cost per item of a Runnerbox with a perpetual subscription ($26.90 including shipping) the cost is still higher at $2.07 per item.

It gets complicated again when you factor in that Runnerbox comes every two months and you get Stridebox every month, but all the math started to make my head hurt. To keep it simple, as far as the one-off gift boxes go, Stridebox does give you better value for your money.

On top of all that math nonsense, Stridebox gives you some value-added features that I feel definitely provide more value for the money. For one, the Stride Guide. Yes, Runnerbox was crammed full of goodies, but there were no explanations for anything (granted, they were mostly self-explanatory). The Stride Guide not only gives a helpful little description of each item, but it also shares the retail price and lets you know if the items are intended for before, during, or after workouts, or anytime.(Disclaimer: I’m not sure if Runnerbox includes a guides in their usual subscription boxes… does anyone know?)

Another value-added feature doesn’t seem to be working yet, but has the potential to be pretty cool. In addition to the other information on the Stride Guide, there’s also a URL provided for each item that I assume will someday go to the StrideShop, which is “coming soon.” According to the Stridebox website, the shop will either let you buy the items directly “for a great price” or will direct you how to procure the items elsewhere, possibly with a discount from Stridebox. I love this idea of a StrideShop, because many of the items I received in my gift box are things I’ve never seen in shops near me, and I’d love to know that I have a place to go to buy more if I really like something.

EDIT: Since posting this review, I stumbled on the (open!) StrideShop. The products available right now are a little limited, but I expect it will continue to expand.

To sum up:

For me, Stridebox wins the battle of the running-themed subscription boxes. The cost is less of a headache, I like that I’d get a box every month, I appreciate the Stride Guide, and love the idea of the StrideShop, if it ever opens. Plus, to be totally subjective, I like the goodies I got in the Stridebox better than what I got in the Runnerbox. I’d rather get a few energy gels/bars and some kit than a ton of packets of granola and nuts, but that is my preference.

For people wanting more snacks – and a wider selection of box types – Runnerbox might be the way to go. In addition to the regular Runnerbox, they offer Cyclebox and Tribox plus limited-edition boxes like the race day survival kit or “new year’s fit in 15.” When I looked at their website last summer, they included gluten-free boxes, but I can no longer find that option.

It’s been several months since I last asked… do you subscribe to any boxes (running-themed or not)? What are your thoughts? Stridebox or Runnerbox? (Or other?)

Reflections on a Half Marathon: Kit

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since my half two Sundays ago, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t – before, during, and after the race. Now that I’ve started to realize that I’ll likely run another someday (inevitable?!), I want to make sure I improve what I can, and stick with what’s tried and true.

This was originally going to be one simple post in which I outlined what did work and what didn’t, but – me being me – I rambled out of control, didn’t want to edit it down, and decided to break the post up topically. So it goes. First up:

What worked? My kit.

I debated with myself for a long time about what I was going to wear for this race! Part of me felt strongly that I should wear what I had been wearing for my long runs – long-sleeve tech tee and shorts with double-layer socks – since I was used to that, but I had actually hated dealing with long sleeves during those runs (I could roll the sleeves up when I got warm, but they tended to roll themselves back down and drove me crazy) and didn’t want to be driven crazy during my first half. I also really wanted to wear my run club singlet, but was worried I’d be too cold. I thought about a light long-sleeve tee underneath, but knowing how hot I get when I run, I didn’t want too many layers (see also: sleeve comments above), even though a light singlet over a light tee probably wouldn’t have been too much.

I tried to think about races that had gone really well and that I had felt comfortable during, figuring I’d replicate whatever outfit I had worn then. My mind went immediately to the Old Port 5K back in July, where I remember feeling fantastic:

My kit at the Old Port 5K

My kit at the Old Port 5K

Okay, brilliant. Sorted. But now the question came back around to the issue of sleeves and whether I’d be warm enough running in upper-40s/low-50s temps in that same kit. I toyed with the idea of arm warmers, but something just seemed silly about those… why not just wear a long-sleeve shirt? Then Colin brought up a good point when I asked him for advice – if I got too warm wearing the arm warmers, I could just push them down and wear them as sweatband-type-things, whereas a long-sleeve shirt would be way more difficult to remove if I got too warm. I figured I’d give them a go.

Now that that was settled, what about how to hold my crazy hair back? At the Old Port race – and at many other races this year – I had worn my Buff headband and it had done its job at taming my flyaway hair. I planned on rocking the Buff again, and bringing my sunglasses, until my FIL planted the idea in my head that a hat would be better at protecting my eyes from glare. (Fair point, especially since my cheap sunglasses aren’t polarized and I still squint when I wear them.) I’ve rocked a few different hats in previous races, but they tend to make me feel really hot and God knows I didn’t want to faint during my first half. I needed to be extra cautious! Enter Julie with her magic visor. It would block more glare, protect my face from the sun, but wouldn’t hold all the heat in. Perfect. Throw my new knee bands into the mix and I was ready to go:

Modified kit for the half

Modified kit for the half

It ended up being a perfect combination. It was kit I knew I could be comfortable in for shorter races, and turns out it works for 13.1 miles as well. Nothing bothered me, nothing chafed, everything stayed in place*, I didn’t get blisters (credit also due to Body Glide for this!), and I ended up being fine temperature-wise. I was questioning the arm warmers a few miles in but, despite being thermal, they didn’t make me too hot, and I was super glad I had them once the sun went behind the clouds and the wind started whipping off the lakes. I might have gotten too warm with a long-sleeve shirt on (an extra layer is an extra layer) so they were a great solution.

*I guess this isn’t entirely true. At one point my knee braces rubbed against each other and the velcro caught, loosening them both a bit. I stepped off to the side to re-tighten them and they managed to behave themselves for the rest of the race. So they stayed in place for the most part!

So what, exactly, was this kit? (I feel like I want to write something cheesy like “you, too, can have this look!”)

-Asics Core* singlet (bought through my run club… I’m unsure of the exact style)
-Fila Core Essential High-Impact sports bra
-Nike Racer Dri-FIT Double-Layer shorts
-Wrightsock Cool Mesh II double-layer socks
-Saucony Guide 7 shoes
-Nike Thermal arm warmers
-Shock Doctor Knee-Patella support straps
-Nike visor (specific style unknown)
-Sunglasses (brand forgotten)
-Garmin Forerunner 15
-Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated water bottle*

*I gave this bottle a pretty negative review a few months ago, vowing to not use it anymore, and yet I still keep using it. I’m still not a fan, to be honest, but desperate times…. Anyway, I plan to write a follow-up review soon.

Do you fret over your race-day kit as much as I did for this one? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

What are your tried-and-true pieces of kit?

Shoes and the Drama (Trauma?) They Cause

Disclaimer: this post will be a bit TMI. If you don’t like reading about runner’s toes, flee now!

Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I’m a big fan of kit… a gearhead, if you will. Back in March I wrote an ode to my running shoes, proclaiming my love of the Saucony Guide. I wore the Guide 6 for most of my running “career,” and recently switched over to the coveted Guide 7. The first time I gave them a trial run (you can read all about it if you so desire in my “OMG Shoes” post) they felt like they were part of my feet, and were the most comfortable running shoes I’d tried yet. I was beyond stoked when I finally bought a pair.

Saucony Guide 7

Saucony Guide 7

I was delighted to find that, after switching to the 7s, my splinty shins calmed down, and actually even went away completely. Huzzah! I concluded that my 6s had racked up enough miles to start bothering me and embraced the 7s even more.

Sadly, it’s starting to look like the 7s might not be as magical as I originally thought. Ever since making the switch at the Old Wethersfield 10K last month, my runner’s toes have been more angry than usual.

Quick TMI background: my right foot is disgusting. The nail on my second toe (next to the Big One) has turned black and fallen off 3 times in the last 15 years. Too much activity in ill-fitting shoes has its consequences! Currently it’s black and has been threatening to fall off once again for close to a year. My baby toe is angry as hell because it’s been rubbing constantly in pretty much every shoe since childhood, and the trauma of running has only made it worse. (Interestingly, the nail part has only been angry for less than a year – usually it’s a knuckle blister that’s the problem – and I’m not entirely sure what started all the nail drama.)

Now, ever since switching to the 7s, angry second toe has a big ol’ perma blister to go along with the bruised nail, and 4th toe (next to baby toe) has both a blister and a big, angry bruise. Initially I thought the new damage was from running in new socks for my 10K – lately I’ve been racing in double-lined socks and these were single-lined – but after subsiding in the week after the race, the anger and bruising have come right back after my long runs. I’ve tried a bunch of different socks but none have helped the blisters or bruising. All I can say is, thank god for super dark nail polish!

This drawing is amazing and sums up pretty perfectly how I imagine my toes (source)

This drawing is amazing and sums up pretty perfectly how I imagine my toes (source)

So, if it’s not the socks, it must be the shoes, right? I haven’t changed my running style, just my mileage, and this worries me. I love 5Ks but don’t want to be confined to that distance forever! I’ve been considering trying Altras because I’m curious if their wider toe box would help, but am hesitant to buy new shoes because I only just started wearing these new Guides. Plus, the Guides feel perfect in every other way. I’ve been scouring the web for Guide 7 reviews to see if anyone else has had the same problem, but reviewers have been praising them for their wide toe box and anti-blister rail (?!) and fabulous support.

On the other hand (foot?) this might all boil down to feet, and not shoes. I know I have weird feet (flat, really narrow) and messed-up toes (my second toes on both feet aren’t long like the big toe, like most people’s are, so my big toes put more strain on a smaller area and poke holes through socks like no one’s business… plus my toes point up whenever I take a step/flex my calf muscle/try to kick a ball) and this has made buying shoes a pain in the neck my whole life… if my toes don’t bump the shoes are usually too loose, but if the majority of my foot fits well, my toes will crash. Maybe the title of this post should be “Feet and the Drama They Cause;” it’s not Saucony’s fault that my feet are so bizarre!

So here are my questions for my fellow runners: Have you experienced crazy toe bruising like this and if so, have you figured out how to treat/prevent it? Do you think this onslaught of bruising is because I’ve been upping my mileage, and if so, will it get better or will I be doomed to run 4 miles or less for forever?? Does this sound like a shoe issue, or a sock issue, or is it an issue just because I have really weird feet, and toes that refuse to behave like normal toes? Do I need to win the lottery and have shoes specially made for my crazy feet? I’m at a complete loss and any advice at all would be greatly appreciated!

Happy running and happy feet!

Secret Blogger Club: August Edition

Before I launch into this month’s theme of bragging rights, I have to confess something. I was catching up at the Blonder Side of Life early last week and was excited to see that the theme for August’s meeting of the Secret Blogger Club was scheduled to be the beach. I had a whole post in my head about beach running and general beachy good times, and then noticed a few days later that the theme changed. It’s probably for the best – my beach running post was likely going to be boring, and anyway I can always post it in a non-linkup situation – but I’m still going to post the following picture of Drew and me after a beach run in Los Angeles back in December, just because I like it:

photo(1)Anyway, on to bragging rights! What am I awesome at?

  • I bragged pretty shamelessly about this in my last Weekend Wrap-Up, but I’m decent at sprinting. I’m certainly no FloJo, but I’m the fastest female, short-distance sprinter on the Shammies (to my knowledge!), and I cling to this. I cling oh, so tightly. Any other time I run with my run club I am so slowwww compared to everyone else (I went all psychoanalytic on this topic a few months back) and it gives the ol’ self-esteem a boost when I’m able to lead the pack for once. If only the club participated in more short-distance events so I could actually contribute positively! Otherwise I just slow everyone down.
  • I am awesome at picking up little injuries and niggles any time I participate in sports or other activities. I am the Niggle Queen. Bruised toenails? Got ’em. Shin splints? Splinty as hell. Dodgy ankles? They sprain like it’s their job. Debilitating blisters? A-go-go. (You get the idea!)
  • I am awesome at buying unnecessary kit for any sport I participate in because I am a total gearhead. There is a closet in my house that contains an entire Freshmeat package shoved in a bag because once, a few years back, I decided I should do roller derby. Skates, helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards, an extra set of wheels, and padded compression shorts. I used all that stuff once. Once. I’m awful! Why does shopping for kit have to be so much fun?

derby

  • I am awesome at managing to function through daily life as well as bouts of running while being generally underhydrated. I am strangely proud of this, even though I know I shouldn’t be!

That’s probably enough awesomeness for one day… I don’t want to overwhelm you 😉

What are you awesome at?

Blonder Side of Life
Thanks to Kelsey, Suzan, and Kendall for hosting this month’s Secret Blogger Club!

 

Friday Five(ish)

It’s been quiet on the blog front for me this week… sorry for the silence! There are a few future posts I’ve been working on, and I guess I haven’t had much to say in the interim. That’s changing today with my take on the Friday Five theme… or maybe I’m just shamelessly copying Rae’s Friday Free-for-All (hope you don’t mind, Rae!)… regardless, here are five random things that are on my mind and making me happy today:

1) New kicks!!

Saucony Guide 7 <3 <3

Saucony Guide 7… so shiny!

At the Craft Brew Race a few weeks back I noticed a tiny hole forming in the top of my current running shoes; the neon yellow of my socks was showing through every time I moved my toes. Not good! And the hole has only gotten bigger with each run. I ran my first Guide 6s until they started hurting, and my current ones haven’t hurt me yet so clearly they still have some miles left. I’m going to keep wearing them, but wanted some backup in case my toes blow all the way through.

I’ve been wanting the Guide 7s ever since they came out, especially after I took them for a test run a few months ago, but didn’t feel like I could justify buying them while they were still full-price and my current shoes were still fine. I did splurge on a pair of Adidas Supernova Sequence 6s as a treat after I got a promotion at work, because they were on clearance and I keep reading that it’s apparently good to rotate a few pairs of running shoes at a time… and because they were purple and neon yellow. However, as soon as I got them I injured my ankle and it hurt to even try them on, so I tucked them away until I healed and promptly forgot that I had them. Fast forward to last week, when I remembered them and tried them on again, and turns out they don’t fit after all. Go figure.

Luckily, City Sports lets you return unworn shoes for merchandise credit, even if it’s been almost 4 months since you bought them, so I was able to trade them for a shiny new pair of Guides (and a tube of Nuun). If I “forget” that I already spent money on the Adidas kicks, it feels like I got $120 shoes and Nuun for less than $50. Score! I can’t wait to rock these new kicks!

2) Running scavenger hunt

Amy at Let’s Go Running decided to do a running scavenger hunt this week and I totally jumped on the bandwagon because it sounded awesome. The 5 things we were supposed to find sounded easy enough – a shovel, a green lawn, an out-of-season decoration, a pond, and a bench – but it’s turning out to be trickier than I expected. So far I’ve only crossed two things off my list, a pond and a bench:

bench

The scavenger hunt has made me want to go out for a run every night this week to try to find the other items, but alas… life is getting in the way. I’m hoping I can capture the other items this weekend!

3) Catching up with an old friend

A good friend of mine from college (M-Dawg) has been living on the west coast for a few years and I haven’t seen him in ages. Luckily for those of us on the east coast, he and his wife are moving back this way, and luckily for me, he’s currently living with friends in my city until he finds a permanent place. Wahoo! We have plans for dinner and catching up tonight and I can’t wait to see him and introduce him to the townie bar down the street from my house. It’s been way too long!

Me and M-Dawg at a college Halloween party

Me and M-Dawg at a college Halloween party

4) Gina!!

Gina, my lovely friend and the wife of my running buddy Colin, is coming back into town for a few weeks and is arriving this weekend! I haven’t seen her since New Year’s and I miss her laugh, her fun, pretty much everything about her! So many re-connections with friends this weekend… I love it.

gina

5) Family

Squeezed between catching up with M-Dawg and Gina this weekend, I’ll be heading out to Central Mass to visit my mum, step-dad, and grandma. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them and it’ll do me so much good to spend some time with them! It’s going to be a weekend of friends, family, and happiness, and I’m pumped. It makes me very glad it’s Friday! 🙂

What’s your weekend looking like?

Have you ever done a scavenger hunt, running or otherwise?

Review: Runnerbox

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing a lot about subscription boxes lately. I have friends who get Birchbox – monthly packages filled with beauty and grooming products – and have been seeing ads on Facebook for subscription boxes of pet toys, shaving kit, healthy snacks, full meals… the list goes on. Clearly, subscription boxes are so hot right now. The way it works is that you pay a monthly fee and the company will send you a box full of samples of various goodies. Some, like Birchbox, encourage subscribers to write reviews of the products, and for each review you get so many points, which you can then cash in for more goodies.

One of my co-workers is pretty much the Birchbox queen. She reviews her way to so many points that she can cash them in and buy fancy swag for only a few bucks. She’s also shared some of the edible samples with me, and I have to say I’ve quite enjoyed this perk. The way she described the whole thing sounded so cool to me that I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but most of the samples Birchbox sends would go to waste on me, since I don’t wear makeup or use many of the products they include. So I got thinking – with so many subscription boxes floating around out there, what kind would I be interested in?

Me? A runner and a gearhead? Hmmm…

photo(1)

Enter Runnerbox.

Let me back up a second. I had poked around the internet a few months ago to see if there were any running-themed subscription boxes, and my searches yielded two: Runnerbox and Stridebox. There were also some general fitness-themed boxes: Bulubox (vitamins, supplements, health, and weight loss), Fitbox (healthy food, supplements, workout gear and apparel, recipes, etc.), KLUTCHclub (choose from women’s, men’s, or mom’s boxes full of snacks, beverages, supplements, and personal care products), Kona Kase (nutritional products, training tips, and inspirational quotes)… and those are just a few. To read other bloggers’ compare/contrast reviews, check out here, here, or here. Again, I’m sure those are just a few!

I narrowed my interests down to Runnerbox and Stridebox, but from there struggled a bit with which to choose. Here are the basics:

Runnerbox:

  • Can choose from Runnerbox, Cyclebox, or Tribox
  • Once you select Runnerbox, you can then opt for the regular box, a gluten-free box, or the limited edition race day survival kit
  • Runnerbox is a bi-monthly subscription costing $19.95 per box, plus $6.95 shipping for each box. Or, you can opt for just one year at $21.95 per box plus shipping, 6 months at $22.25 per box plus shipping, a 2-box starter kit for $24.95 per box plus shipping, or a giftbox – also $24.95 plus shipping.
  • The website’s description: “RunnerBox is a subscription based box for runners, triathletes and other active people. It’s a mini shoebox filled with running products, mailed to your front door. It has everything from energy products, gels, chews, protein shakes/supplements, nutrition bars, skincare, to safety products and other fun accessories! Some products will be brand new (but personally tested) on the market, and some will be tried and true favorites. With so many products coming out on the market, leave the trials and testing to us, we’ll search out the best and send them to you!
  • You can cancel your subscription anytime

Stridebox:

  • Stridebox has only one option, which contains “6-8 products” per month
  • It’s a monthly subscription costing $15 per box and shipping is free
  • The website description: “StrideBox is a monthly subscription box service for runners. This means, each month, as a StrideBox subscriber you’ll receive a selection of products focussed on enhancing your trainings, workouts, and races. Our products come from both well established brands as well as emerging companies and smaller businesses. The monthly box is delivered direct to your door, and could include anything from energy bars, gels, and other foods to apparel, gadgets, and other fun extras. Each month is a surprise, and allows you to discover and experience new brands and products without doing all the legwork of finding them.
  • You can cancel your subscription anytime
  • This part isn’t active yet, but the website says it will soon feature a StrideShop where you can buy more of the products you received in your box “at a great price”

To be honest, I was leaning toward Stridebox because it’s cheaper, it comes every month, and the description mentions apparel, gadgets, and fun extras, whereas Runnerbox’s description has more emphasis on gels and food, and I’m obsessed with kit. In the end, Runnerbox got me because of their giftbox option – this allowed me to try the box without having to subscribe, since I’m not sure I’d trust myself to cancel my subscription (“Free” running stuff in the mail every month?! Way too tempting to “forget” to unsubscribe!).

Anyway, on to my review!

Even though the description called it a “mini shoebox” I was still surprised at how small the box was:

Runnerbox perched on top of a regular-sized shoebox for comparison

Runnerbox perched on top of a regular-sized shoebox for comparison

A motivational quote under the lid

A motivational quote under the lid

However, it was completely crammed full of stuff:

photo(3)

I was a little surprised at just how much stuff they had fit into that little box! Here was my haul:

  • Kay’s Naturals protein cookie bites, honey almond flavor (gluten free)
  • Honey Stinger organic energy chews, fruit smoothie flavor
  • Cherry Bay Orchards dried Montmorency cherries
  • Eden Quiet Moon packet of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
  • Jelly Belly quick energy Sports Beans, assorted flavors
  • Jelly Belly protein recovery crisps Sports Beans, chocolate flavor
  • Smooch mango, pineapple, and banana fruit snack fortified with chia seed and acerola
  • The Good Bean fruit and no-nut trail mix bar
  • Nuun tab, lemonade flavor
  • Rani’s Yummy granola, key lime flavor
  • Fluid Performance natural sports drink powder, raspberry lemonade flavor
  • 2Toms blister shield powder
  • Runnerbox “The original multifunctional seamless wear” headband/snood/wristband/hairband/balaclava thing
  • Two informational cards, one about Sports Beans and one about 2Toms blister shield products (no coupons or promo codes)

I assumed from Runnerbox’s website description that I’d be getting a lot of energy products and food, but I was still a little disappointed at just how little “other” stuff I got. The blister shield sounds interesting – you pour it into your socks before you run and supposedly it prevents blisters – and the Runnerbox-branded multifunctional head wrap thing will definitely come in handy as I navigate running with my new short hair, but that was all. I had read reviews of other Runnerboxes containing safety lights and lace locks and I got a little kit envy and had to remind myself of the energy-product-heavy description.

As for those energy products, I’m looking forward to trying them out! Now that I’ve signed up for my first half-marathon I expect to start doing some longer runs soon and I’m sure I’ll need all the energy and carbs and electrolytes I can get my hands on. It’ll be interesting to see if I prefer chews to beans, and I can use these products as a springboard for testing others to see what works best for me. I was happy to get another Nuun tab too, because I’ve grown to love it after buying my first tube on National Running Day.

All in all, though it was fun to get a box of running swag in the mail, I don’t think I’d subscribe to Runnerbox. I’m not sure the contents* are worth the nearly $30 every two months; for that price, I’d rather go down to City Sports or wherever every two months and pick out my own products to try, and pick flavors that appeal to me rather than get them at random. And while I like granola and cookies and things like that, I might be more apt to consider subscribing if, instead of those products, there were other chews or gels to try, or another bit of kit. If I won the lottery or worked in a field that pays a little better than librarianship maybe I’d consider subscribing just for grins, but I don’t think Runnerbox is for me.

(*I have wondered how different the contents of a giftbox are from a regular subscription box, or if they’re different at all. I can’t really tell from the website. Does anyone know?)

Now, Stridebox on the other hand… half the price for boxes every month instead of every two? I know that works out to be about the same cost, and that Stridebox says it contains 6-8 samples whereas my Runnerbox contained 12, but every review of Stridebox I’ve seen has shown about the same number of samples as Runnerbox, so technically that ends up being twice the amount of goodies for roughly the same price. Oh, so tempting. Someone talk me out of giving it a try! 🙂

[Edit: Check out my review of Stridebox!]

(**Also, just a disclaimer: I wasn’t asked to review Runnerbox or provided with one to review. I bought it out of curiosity and decided on my own to review it. All opinions are my own and very well may differ from that of other Runnerbox samplers.)

Do you subscribe to any boxes (running-themed or not) or have you been tempted? If so, what are your thoughts?