Strava: the social media for endurance athletes

Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise to review 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!

What is Strava?

Strava is a free platform where you can track or add your runs, bikes, and swims. In short is is a social media platform for endurance athletes. You can also join virtual clubs and challenges if you are the type of person that finds extra motivation that way- I know I do! You can like each other’s activities (it’s called giving kudos) and write comments on them, similar to Facebook and Instagram.

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You can also add photos of your runs (I’m known to share  photos of my beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront runs :P) You can also find new routes, which is especially useful when traveling/running in a new location.

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How Can I get Started on Strava?

All you need to do is create a free account with a valid e-mail address or your Facebook account-it’s that easy. You do not even need a smart watch to use Strava. Something I did not know until this summer. But a lot of people connect their activity trackers to Strava anyway, especially in the running community (So many of us are rarely seen without our Garmins, even on dates. haha). I’d also recommend downloading the free iPhone or Android Strava App, so you can upload or track activities, and give kudos on the go.

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Features of Using Strava

  • Ability to transfer activities from other devices onto Strava (i.e. run with a Garmin or Suunto watch and  then upload your run to Strava)
  • Track your activity without a smart watch (I did not know Strava could do this until my Garmin died mid-run a month ago and I was able to track the reminder of my run on my smart phone via the Strava App. You can track your entire run (bike or swim) via Strava if that is your jam
  • Get awesome metrics from your workouts that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll soon wonder what you did without them (and use them to inform training decisions):
    • Distance
    • Pace
    • Time
    • Elevation
    • Calories Burned
    • Heart Rate
    • Cadence

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  • Track your activities to see how many miles you are covering or minutes working out each day, each week, each month, and even each year. This can help you see how far you’ve come or how you’ve trained for previous races as compared to the current race you are training for
  • Track the mileage on your shoes, so you know when you need to retire your current pair and get a new one

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  • Add friends that you worked out with when they forget their watch or phone. This only works if the friend is a current Strava member. My husband did this on an easy run while ago when my Garmin watch refused to connect one run and it saved me because as many of you know, I have to keep track of my running  #typeA
  • Create groups based on running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs, traithalon groups, or other common interests and run challenges within the group (i.e. highest weekly mileage or longest time spent working out). I created a group for people who have the goal of running 2019 kilometers in the year 2019 and it’s been a nice little group. Feel free to join if aren’t already in it. 🙂
  • Join challenges to keep you motivated. Each month I join the monthly 5k and 10k challenge at least, but then they have many other ones from climbing to cycling to virtual races. Earn trophies when you complete the challenges!

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  • No matter where you live, there are sections of road or trail where people run frequently and there is a leaderboard showing how fast people have run those segments. So if you are competitive (like me 🤣) you can try to be the leader of the segment! Strava will automatically rank you anytime you run a segment. Even if you are not the leader, it is interesting to compare what time you’ve run on that segment at different points of the year or during previous years. Segments are all in good fun!
  • Privacy filters, so people cannot see where you live if you frequently run from your home
  • Advanced Strava features for a good price through Strava Summit. Some of the features of Summit include: weekly goal setting, training plans, workout analysis, just to name a few.

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So what are you waiting for? Join Strava today! Or if you are currently on Strava share your profile below if you want me to follow you! 

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Breaking out of your shell with Turtle Gloves: a reviewed

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens to review 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.

With the winters we have been having here in Chicago I could not help, but say “shell yeah” to the opportunity to test out the Turtle Flip Mittens on my runs. Plus, Turtle Gloves is an amazing, up and coming small owned brand so I knew I wanted to give them some extra love!

So, what are Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens? They are mittens, of course! They come in three different weights: light, midweight, and heavyweight. The weight you chose will depend on the climate in your area and time of year. I live in Chicago and we’ve been in a polar vortex on/off since January and I have Reynaud’s so the heavyweight are my mitten of choice. I also love that they have a variety of sizes to fit all hand sizes, both small and big. I almost got the youth size, but I like some room in my gloves, so the small was perfect! 😛 I love that the mittens can be worn in other ways, such as fingerless gloves (for those mid run photos 😉 ) when your hands get warm or even as arm warmers, perfect for race day!

Another use I shared with some of the other BibRave Pros is snot gloves…😂 Okay, I know GROSS, but my nose runs constantly when I am running and Turtle Gloves are the perfect material to wipe your nose without making it chapped and the material is pretty absorbent… That brings me to my next favorite feature, how easy it is to launder the gloves. They can go in the washer and dryer, no problem and they came out softer than ever with each wash. And yes, I washed them a lot because of all the times I had to wipe my nose. 😛

The only con I can think of for Turtle Flip Mittens is that they were not warm enough on some of my runs. BUT I have Reynaud’s and am the type of person that is always cold and needs two pairs of gloves on winter runs under 20 degrees..with that being said, I like that I was able to layer a small, thinner glove under my Turtle Mittens because they are roomy! So hardly a con, because i could still wear them on my coldest runs, as long as I layered up!

BRP Ben and I give Turtle Gloves two thumbs up!

I HIGHLY recommend Turtle Gloves Turtle Flip Mittens as a regular part of your running wardrobe, especially if you live somewhere that is cold. It’s Mid-march and I would not be surprised if gloves are needed for at least another month🙃I’ll make sure to keep a clean (snot-free pair) ready for all my upcoming runs. 😛

Lastly, want to try some Turtle Gloves for yourself? Use the code “TurtleBibRave” for 15% off order when you order on their website!And let me know below if you’ve tried Turtle Gloves!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say Turtle Gloves:

Amy

Ben L

Ben W

Jenna

Jennifer

Jonathon

Lisa

Randy

Sam

Tia

Vanessa

Taking the “dread” out of dreadmill: a review of the Zwift run pod

Disclaimer: I received the Zwift Shoe Pod to review 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.

Even though I had been nursing an injury since the Chicago Marathon nearly three months ago, I was excited when BibRave asked me if I wanted to try the Zwift Shoe Pod and Zwift app. At minimum I knew it would make my walking/cross training a little less boring and at maximum I thought it could give me the courage to test out my injury and try running on the treadmill! I am happy to report that it helped me accomplish both of those things! 🙂

But, you are probably less interested in my injury recovery and more interested in how the Zwift Run Pod actually works 😉 This is a review after all and not a diary about my injury 😛 Although, if you want to read about my training in greater detail follow me on Instagram or Strava!

So, first things, first! Here’s how to install your shoe pod and get ready for your first treadmill run:

  1. Take the shoe pod out of the box and install the battery. It takes a little elbow grease to assemble, but if my little arms can do it, I promise yours can too! 😉
  2. Attach the shoe pod to your shoe laces at the third lace from the bottom as shown below, Make your you hear a CLICK, so your known your shoe pod is firmly in place!

3. Create a free Zwift account.

4. Download the Zwift app on your phone, tablet, computer, or other device you plan to use with you on the treadmill and log in. I also recommend the Zwift Companion app, so you can chat with people and cheer them on as you run (the chat options on the normal Zwift app are a bit limited).

Both apps are free! The only thing that is not free is the shoe pod, but I am sharing a discount with you below, so stay tuned. 🙂

5. Pair the Zwift Shoe pod with the Zwift app

6. Once paired you are ready to run on the treadmill! I recommend going through the Zwift 101 pre-set training run to get better acquainted with the app. Note: the avatar is pre-selected for you based on height, weight, etc., but the more you run, the more you can customize your avatar. Before the first run all it let me change my my socks. I thought my avatar looked a little bit like me on the first try, though. 😛

Now you are ready to run around the world without leaving the comfort of your home or gym treadmill! You can do a pre-set training run, create/host your own event, or join someone else’s. Zwift is a fun way of having a run date with your favorite running buddy that is not local and pushing each other to finish the run!

My favorite Zwift run was the BibRave group 5k, because I was able to run with my team even though we were all physically in different places. It was my first run back post injury, so most of it was a walk, but I had a blast and was happy to have been able to celebrate such a huge milestone with some of my favorite running buddies, rather than by myself.

Heck, I’m not sure I would have even tried running as soon as December 18, 2018 if it weren’t for the group run. I’m glad I did because as of today (Jan 2, 2019), I’m feeling brave enough to attempt 2 miles and the Zwift run app will make my treadmill run less lonely and more fun. I’m so happy I have the Zwift run pod and app to take the “dread” out of dreadmill and make my return to running and beyond a fun experience!

So, are you intrigued?! Want to try Zwift run for yourself? You could even run with me 😉 Use the discount code BibRave15 for 15% off the cost of the Zwift RunPod on the Zwift website (Note: discount is only good for first 1000 Pods ordered with the code).

Do you like running on the treadmill? Have you tried Zwift before?! I’d love to virtually run with you, so let me know your Zwift user name below or contact me and we can set up a run!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Zwift Run Pod:

Amanda S.

Barb

Ben

Emily

Janelle

Jeff

Jon

Linda

Mike

Nicole

Renee


More than an athletic wedding ring: Karma Ring review

Disclaimer: I received Women’s Duo Silicone Ring Pearl White Set by Karma Ring Co to review 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!

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I got married over a year ago (Friday July 14, 2017 to be exact :P) and I remember when I went kayaking and hiking on my honeymoon in San Diego that I wish I had a ring to wear for active activities, so I would not ruin my wedding ring. I opted to go ringless on the honeymoon, but was really sad, especially since I was a newly-wed! Nowadays, there have been times that I have forgotten to wear my rings leaving the house and I guess that’s how you know you’ve been married for a while😂

(both photos are from Torrey Pines in San Diego during my honeymoon!)

Anyway, I really wish Karma Ring existed back then, but I’m grateful it exists now! Anytime I do an active activity I wear my Karma Ring instead of my wedding rings and it gives me peace of mind. Plus, they are super cute, comfortable, hypoallergenic/gentle on your skin (made of silicone), and durable. I do not even notice that I am wearing a ring when I am wearing my karma ring.

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Furthermore, I love that Karma Ring is more than just an athletic replacement for your wedding rings. Each of their rings have different meanings based on which hand and finger your wear the ring on. For example, in the photo above I am wearing the Lavender duo ring on my left ring finger to remind myself to focus on my creative and loving side throughout the day, not just during the workout. You can read more about the ring hand and finger symbolism here.  I cannot wait to rock my ring at all my upcoming races! 🙂 You do not need to be married or female to rock the Karma Ring Duo set! The mens’s Duo set is also awesome! You just need to be interested in athletic jewelry and want a creative piece to remind you of your goals, hopes, and dreams! If my experience has captivated your interest, you can order your own Duo Ring set and save 33% on your order using the code BIBRAVE33 at checkout!

Do you wear jewelry when you workout? If you’re married do you wear your original wedding ring? If you answered yes to either of those questions you should consider getting a Karma Ring! 😉

Knockaround Polarized Premiums Sunglasses Review: A Deal You Can’t Beat

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. I received the black sunset Premiums and the white monochrome Premiums. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I want to start my review by saying running with sunglasses is not optional for me (unless it’a really cloudy or I want to be in pain). I had a corneal abrasion in 2013 (super fun with contacts let me tell ya 🙄) and since then my eyes have been very sensitive to sunlight. Even before the corneal abrasion, I noticed my eyes feel better the rest of the day if I wear sunglasses when I run. Plus, it’s just a good practice to protect your eyes when you run. 😛

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My only issue is that I tend to misplace my sunglasses (usually they are found months later in a random bag, drawer, or the car glovebox). This means I do not like to spend a lot on sunglasses, because there is a chance I’m going to loose them. 🤦🏼‍♀️ I get way too attached to my sunglasses, though, so it’s always sad when I do. 😦  Another thing that is important to me is quality- I need sunglasses that actually protect my eyes from the sun and stay put on my tiny face. So basically I need high quality sunglasses, that are also reasonably priced. I’m not high maintenance or anything… 😛

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My demands seemed impossible to meet until I met the Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses!😱 Here’s why:

-Knockarounds are super easy on the wallet: only $15 for non-polarized and $20 for polarized. So, if you end of losing a pair it is not the end of the world…but still sad nonetheless. 😦

-They are designed for use (and can take a beating). I’ve dropped my sunglasses on the ground, the Lakeshore Path, sweated all over them, stashed them in random bags, etc. and they have come out unscathed.

-The polarized lenses really protect my eyes! As mentioned previously, I wear contacts and I had a corneal abrasion a few years ago, so this is especially important to me.

-They fit my tiny face. They are still a little big, but that’s what happens when your noggin is the size of a child’s.  😂 Yet, they stay on when I run. So I consider them a win! It’s nearly impossible for me to find perfect fitting lenses anyway (in sunglasses and eyeglasses), so good enough works for me. If you have a larger head there are still pairs that will fit you!

-Last, but not least they come in fun colors/styles! You can even design your own! 🙂

Bonus: They were super fun to wear to a SNL trivia night that I attended. Can anyone guess who my husband and I were?!

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So what do you say? Have I convinced you to get your own pair? You can receive 20% off of a SINGLE order by using the code BIBRAVEKNOCKS at checkout. Please let me know if you try them out below! 🙂 Also, tonight only, head over to the BibRave Twitter at 8 pm central to participate in #BibChat and try your hand at winning 2 pairs of Knockarounds! I hope to chat with all of you there!

Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about Knockarounds below:

Amanda (not me, a different one! :P)

Bradley

Corey

Jeannine

Karin

Kevin

Ralph

Stephanie

Tedrick

 

Product Review: CTM Band

Disclaimer: I received the CTM Band to review 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!

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I am not exaggerating when I say that the CTM band has been a life saver and welcome addition to both my and my husband’s training/recovery tool box. 🙂

 

No other tool that I have at home has brought me as much relief from tightness and soreness (especially with my quads and IT band) as the CTM band. And trust me, as a former collegiate runner with a storied injury history I have tried many, many tools. The stick, the trigger point foam roller, a regular foam roller, a tennis ball, you name it…I’ve likely tried it. The CTM band is the closest at home tool to providing me the relief I would get when I’d go to a Physical Therapist and get the Graston Technique done. The upside of the CTM band: less painful, less expensive, and similar results (sweet, sweet relief, looser tissue, improved range of motion). Check out their website to learn how to use the CTM Band for different injuries, sore spots, and areas of your body.

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And I’m not the only one in my household that loves the CTM band! During this marathon training cycle my husband was experiencing the worst quad soreness he has ever had and after two days of suggesting he tried my CTM band he finally caved (he’s running the Illinois Marathon). It was life changing for him! The next day his soreness was a lot better and felt like he had better range of motion during his run. Now he regularly uses the CTM band before and after running. I often have to fight him to use it first if we run at the same time! 😛 I’m even packing the CTM band for our race next weekend (marathon for him and half marathon for me). I think he just needs his own 😉

I also think you should try out the CTM band! Especially because I have a sweet deal for you: the code “CTMBIBRAVE” gets you 20% off your order! So try it out and let me know what you think! 🙂

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Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about the CTM Band:

Christine

Connie

Danielle

Janelle

Jessica

Karen

Lindsey

Mary Jo

Michael

Mike

F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k race Chicago review

I will start my race review by saying in an ideal situation I would have run the half marathon, not the 5k. I become injured in early November and was unable to run the Madison half  marathon that month, so I knew a January half  wasn’t realistic. My husband signed up for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and I felt left out, so I signed up for the 5k in the hopes that I would somehow recover and be able to run at least a few weeks before the race. Thankfully, I overcame my injury in a month and half through lots of rest, time in the weight room, yoga, and a little cross training. I started running again a week before Christmas and knew that my goal for this 5k would be to finish and nothing more.

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Now I will say that despite my lack of fitness going in, I am so happy I signed up for this race! The weather was unseasonably warm for January (40s) and it was so much fun.

Packet pick up: There were multiple weekends and locations (city and suburbs) to pick up packets and even an option to pick it up race morning for $15.

Parking: Only con about this race. Parking was a slow process and expensive because they made you pay before entering the garage. Most places have you grab a ticket and pay on the way out. I would have preferred that option because my husband and I kept our wallets in the bag in our car truck. So when we got to the front of the parking line I had to jump out of the car and scramble to open the trunk and find one of wallets to pay… I feel like myself (and everyone else) who had to do this held up the parking line significantly.

Waiting for the start: My favorite part of the race (besides running it) was the ability to stay inside the warm United Center until the start of the race and pee in a real toilet instead of a porta potty 😛 I also thought the gear check was easy to find and very well organized. If it had been actually cold on race day, I would have still been comfortable because the start line was right outside the door. I still took advantage of the warmth and since I did not warm up, I reported to the start line 5 min before the race. Had I had lofter goals for this race (i.e. getting a PR rather than just finishing), I would have warmed up, done drills, etc. I also used the wait time to finally meet some of my fellow Bibrave Pros Connie and Ben in real life 😛

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Race course: The 5k (and the half) was a flat/fast out and back course. There was one water station on the 5k course than I didn’t use or need, but it was nice that they had one. My husband ran the half and did not take in much water, but was pleased with how many stops were on the course too. There were quite a few people cheering and taking pictures so that was also cool.

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I just started running again a month before the race (due to my injury) and recently got a new job as a chemistry teacher, so my training was subpar going in. I only ran twice in the two weeks before the race and decided that with my lack of speed work it would be smartest from a recovery/injury standpoint to treat the race as a tempo run. I ran it in 21:08, which was a tempo effort for me at this point in m training, and unexpectedly 1st place female… Finally, everyone I saw on and off the course was nice, but I feel like this is because only the most dedicated runners are willing to run or volunteer in a Chicago winter race!

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Post race/swag: Everyone who ran the 5k or half got a cool medal. The top three overall 5k runners for each gender got a plaque and the top three half marathon runners got prize money, which helped make the half marathon competitive. So, I got a pretty sweet plaque from the 5k! There were also age group prizes for the half marathon, which my husband narrowly missed (4th in his age group with a PR of 1:15). We also all got a cool lightweight hooded top, which is super comfy and soft and I’ve already worn twice since last weekend 😛

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I waited around with the other 5k finishers until my husband finished the half marathon. Again, I was grateful that I was able to wait around in the warm United Center instead of outside. We all took some time to stretch and we met up with one more Bibrave Pro Mark! I’m sad I wasn’t able to meet up with/find everyone! :/

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Then, we attended the awards ceremony, so I could collect my first place plaque and cheer on all the finishers.

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After party: After the awards, we finally decided to mosey on over to the post-race party and get our free beers from Kroll’s. Our entire table ordered Two Brother’s Pinball pale ales. A few of us got food as well: my husband got a veggie burger, I got sweet potato fries, and Mikey got a Chicken Cesar Salad which he enjoyed. Kroll’s had a fun atmosphere, the food was decent, but I feel like they were a bit understaffed. They could have used a few more severs to handle the high volume of hungry and thirsty runners.

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Overall, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k was well organized, fun, and definitely a race I’d do again. 🙂 Although, next time I’d do the half marathon rather than the 5k. Did any of you run F^3 this year or in the past?

P.S. check out my F^3 review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂