5 Fast, Fabulous, Underrated Favorites

In my inaugural blog post I reviewed an example of the single most important piece of gear needed by every runner: a pair of gait-appropriate shoes. Obviously there are many other equally important items needed to get a runner out the door, but in this post I want to focus on some of the unheralded running products that should be in every runner’s gear arsenal. These products, while often overshadowed by shoes, sports bras and shorts, can play an equally key role in keeping your runs comfortable, safe, and even fashionable!

5 of my fast, fabulous, under-rated favorites!

Technical Running Socks

First all, I would like to give a big fast and fabulous shout-out to the technical sock.  Before you balk at the average price tag of $10 a pair, please consider that investing in proper running socks can afford you dry, happy feet and blister-free running. Technical socks, unlike their cotton counterparts, are made of synthetic materials that move moisture away from the foot rather than absorbing it. For you this translates into drier socks that stay in place and are free of friction/ blister-causing stretching and bunching. There are plenty of great tech socks out there, and you are sure to find one that aligns with your sock-height and cushioning preferences at your favorite local running store. My personal favorite is the Swiftwick Vibe. Available in 3 different cuts and a nice variety of fun colors, this plush yet thin, compressive sock offers a snug moisture wicking fit that stays put, plus a hint of comfy cushioning.

The Swiftwick Vibe, my very favorite running sock!

Check them out in full detail here: Swiftwick Vibe Sock

Arm Warmers

Next on my list of fabulous yet underrated running accessories are arm warmers (also called arm sleeves by some). Once solely the domain of cyclists, these are generally inexpensive and perfect for those spring or fall runs and race days when it is too warm for long sleeves but potentially too chilly for short sleeves. They essentially turn any short sleeve shirt into a convertible long sleeve, allowing you to easily shed added warmth should you find yourself heating up mid-run. Furthermore, arm warmers often offer other useful benefits like compression and sun protection, and many companies are capitalizing on their value as a fashion accessory by making them in plenty of exciting prints and colors.  My cheetah print Moeben arm sleeves are an essential component of my cooler-weather race day ensemble. Just putting them on makes me feel a little faster! Check out all of Moben’s fun and funky arm sleeve options here: Fun, Funky Moben Arm Sleeves. If your style is perhaps more sedate than cheetah and tattoo prints, you will also find that myriad other companies, from Asics to Zensa (and many in between) sell arm warmers as well. Asics makes a great soft knit arm warmer that is cozy on a cold morning, Nike’s are featherweight, Zensa’s provide compression features to keep blood flow directed to your most important running muscles and De Soto’s “arm coolers” deflect the sun and use evaporative cooling technology to keep a runner cooler on extremely hot runs. The wide variety of arm sleeve options means that there are surely sleeves to fit every runner’s desires and needs.

  

Practical, light-weight Nike arm warmers in basic black, and fast, fabulous cheetah print Moben ones for days when you feel like walking (and running) on the wild side!

The Road ID

 The third item on my list emphasizes both style and safety.  Behold the Road ID:

This nifty little ID tag offers extra peace of mind for you and your loved ones by providing emergency responders with important emergency contact and medical information that could save your life! In purchasing a Road ID you have the option of setting up a secure, updatable online emergency profile to be accessed by medical personnel in the event of an emergency.  As if that isn’t a good enough reason to go the Road ID website and purchase one right now, this awesome product is also available a whole spectrum of colors and styles that can be worn on the wrist, ankle, or shoe.  With all these options you are guaranteed to find a Road ID option that caters to your personal style and safety needs. Check out Road ID options here: Road ID

On today’s run I am playing it extra safe and sporting both the shoe tag and wrist Road ID styles!

The Spibelt

 Now, tell the truth…are you tired of putting your car key in that sketchy inner-shorts-waistband key pocket? Chafed from stashing energy gels in your sports bra? Suffering from carpal tunnel from clutching your iPod for your entire long run? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, I recommend that you drop whatever you are doing, drive to the nearest running store, and purchase a Spibelt immediately! This small, inconspicuous yet surprising expandable personal item belt can accommodate any standard smart phone or iPod/ mp3 player, your car keys, your ID, and enough gels to get you through a marathon! (According to the Spibelt website, it can hold up to 5 gel packs!) The Spibelt is super-adjustable, offering a bounce-free fit for even the most petite and slender runners.  And you guessed it, like most products featured on The Fast and the Fabulous, it comes in a vast array of bright colors and it is available in a waterproof option and kid’s sizes! Learn more about the marvels of the Spibelt here:  Spibelt!

The spibelt can accommodate your smart phone, multiple anti-chaffing products, and a janitor-sized set of keys. It can also hold a ton of gels!

Foot Rubz

 Last but far from least, the Foot Rubz ball. This golf ball-sized piece of pure  foot bliss may be one of the best deals that exists in the entire realm of running gear! Retailing for approximately $5.50 this little green wonder is a saving grace for many who suffer from sore arches and plantar fasciitis.

It is firm enough that it doesn’t compress under body weight and the little nubs provide just the right amount of targeted massaging action for often grouchy muscles and tissues on the underside of a runners foot. If you have ever longed for a foot rub post-run (or first thing in the morning, or at the office while sitting at your desk…) then this is the answer to your prayers. As a bonus it is much, much cheaper than an on-call foot massage therapist! More information on Foot Rubz here: Foot Rubz

My very fast and even more fabulous friend Allie enjoying an invigorating post-run Foot Rubz massage.

So there you have it: my round-up of the 5 most underrated products for runners. I hope that they help keep you healthy, comfortable, safe and of course fast and fabulous in the long run!

Cheers to these unsung heroes of running gear and the brilliant minds that thought them up, to Allie, my favorite blogging consultant, proofreader, and photographer, and to all of you for reading!

The 3rd Time’s the Charm for the Saucony Kinvara!

As a lover of running and fashionable running outfits I have long dreamed of starting a blog that reviews running gear in terms of both function and style.  So when the nice people at Saucony asked me if I would be willing to try out the much-anticipated Kinvara 3’s, I jumped at the chance to test some sweet new shoes, and launch “The Fast and the Fabulous.”  Without further ado, here it is: my inaugural blog post, a review of the Kinvara 3!

The Kinvara 3’s embarking on their maiden voyage!

I have always been a fan of the Saucony Kinvara. It’s 4 mm heel to toe differential and feathery 6.7 oz weight allow me to enjoy all the efficiency of a minimal shoe and yet it’s cushioning is adequate for even the longest of long runs. The Kinvara and the Kinvara 2 have seen me through countless miles of speedwork, long runs, and race days over my past three marathon training adventures, including a recent marathon PR.  Also, as a running specialty sales associate,  this shoe’s winning combination of light weight, low heel-toe drop and cushioning keep it at the top of my list of go-to options for customers seeking a smooth transition into the world of minimal running.

Now, let’s get down to the business of reviewing all of the fabulous updates that come with the Kinvara 3…

First of all, a new Flex Film upper gives the shoe a sweet new look and a structured yet accommodating fit. Flex Film is heat welded onto an outer layer of mesh, eliminating the need for seams and stitching and resulting in a 2 layer uppers as opposed to the 3 layers of the Kinvara and Kinvara 2.  Furthermore, although I really didn’t have any complaints about the upper of previous Kinvaras to speak of  I did notice that over time and mileage the shoe just started to look a little sloppy and deflated. Although I only have a couple of week’s worth of mileage on the 3’s I am optimistic that the flex-film will prove to be hardier and more resilient than the mesh of Kinvaras  gone by.

Take a closer look at Flex Film.

 The Kinvara 3 also offers a noteworthy update in the form of improved durability where mid-foot and forefoot strikers need it most by relocating some of the shoe’s blown rubber to the lateral side of its sole.  Although my personal wear patterns in previous generations of this shoe were pretty much right down the center of the mid-foot, I have encountered many a running store customer looking to replace their beloved  Kinvaras after only 100 miles or so due excessive lateral forefoot wear.  The clever folks at Saucony addressed this common rapid forefoot wear issue by removing blown rubber from the medial rear-foot (an area that typically sustains less wear in mid-foot runners), and adding blown rubber to the lateral mid-foot and at toe-off (underneath the big toe), as seen in the picture below. Thanks to this simple change the Kinvara 3 is more durable but not at the expense of added weight.  Well done, Saucony shoe design engineers!

Blown rubber on the outsole of the Kinvara 3 vs. the Kinvara 2.

Now seamless uppers and more durable soles are all well and good. However the thing I like the most about the Kinvara 3 is that it comes in a multitude of fun and exciting colors! I have taken the liberty of putting together a few photos to demonstrate the fact there is definitely a Kinvara 3 out there that to match your favorite race day outfit.

  

And this little photo montage barely scratches the surface of the color palette of the new Kinvara.  Check it out…

The many exciting colors of the Kinvara 3.

All things considered, I would rate the Saucony Kinvara 3 as both fast and fabulous!  If  you are looking for your next great neutral light-weight trainer, I recommend that you head over to your favorite local running store to try a pair today!

Many thanks to the good folks at Saucony for the awesome new shoes, my wonderfully patient running friends for facilitating multiple Kinvara 3 photo shoots, and to all of you for reading!

Check out these links for more information on the technology behind the Kinvara 3 and other glowing reviews…

Saucony Explains Kinvara 3 Updates

Believe in the Run” Saucony Kinvara 3 Review

Running Shoe Guru Saucony Kinvara 3 Preview

“Average Guy Hits the Road” Saucony Kinvara 3: The People’s Shoe