ChafeX Product Review

I discovered ChafeX a few months ago and used it while training for the Boston Marathon.

ChafeX, chafing

Running involves repetitive motion and every runner deals with chafing eventually. Some runners chafe in certain areas, others chafe when they are wet.

I discovered chafing in 2003 during my third race, the Providence marathon. It was sprinkling that day and my loose singlet eventually wore away the skin on my nipples.

Somewhere after the half-way mark the person I was running with mentioned that I was bleeding. I hadn’t noticed until he said something and then each step caused unbelievable stinging.

Somehow I managed to get through the rest of the race and crossed the finish line with my jacket zipped up. My wife was horrified. I managed to bleed through my soaked jacket!

Women chafe at the sport bra line, guys chafe under the belt. I’ve even heard of butt cheek chafing. Thighs and under the arms are two other common chafe areas.If you run enough races eventually you will chafe in areas you could never imagine.

Feeling the burn

Over time, I discovered that I could run up to 10K and not chafe in most conditions. If it was wet I would chafe sooner. If I wore a tight shirt or Under Armor I could run further, even in the rain. I can actually run a marathon wearing Under Armor and not chafe.

Before I discovered tight shirts and Under Armor I used band-aids. These were literally a pain when it came time to take them off. I tend to wear Under Armor later into the spring than most people to avoid chafing on long runs.

Eventually I discovered a silicon roll on that worked really well. Slick silicon protects your skin from abrasive fabric. If I run with a loose shirt in the rain I might have some chaffing, but no bleeding.

Often runners feel the burn when they hop into the shower. You may have forgotten your glide, it may chafing,chafex,running injuryhave been wet or a tag on a new shirt or shorts rubbed you the wrong way.

You think you are okay and then the hot water hits that irritated skin. Yeeoow! You swear you’ll never forget protection again.

Chafex

When I read about ChafeX I was intrigued but skeptical. With silicon you roll it on like deodorant, and go. ChafeX needs to be applied like sunscreen. It needs to be rubbed in to bond with your skin and may need another minute to dry.

I was concerned it would take too long to apply and dry. Like most people I never have enough time and I’m often in a hurry. I was also worried about following directions correctly.

running comfortSimply Better Laboratories sent me a 50g tube to try. This is my only “compensation” for this review.

It turns out that ChafeX is easy to use and even I could follow the directions!

A toe on each foot tends to take a lot of abuse when I run. I had been using 3M First Aid tape to wrap my toes and protect them from the friction. It turns that ChafeX worked as well as tape, and I didn’t have to worry about it coming un-done.

Sometimes on a long run I will get a hot spot on the soul of my fore foot. I started applying ChafeX to these areas also, and that problem was solved.

I rotate my running shoes and sometimes different shoes will rub different areas of my foot. During my Boston Marathon training I rubbed ChafeX on the area that day’s shoes rubbed the wrong way, and problem solved.

ChafeX worked well on my original problem area, the nipples. You rub it on like sun screen, let it dry and can add a second layer for extra protection.

Man or woman, no one wants to apply a roll on below the belt and then use it next time above the belt. Or use it ever again! The ability to apply protection in this area without a roll on really sold me on ChafeX.

ChafeX and the Marathon Test

The true test of any product is the marathon. Talk about repetitive motion. It took me 4:09 to run the Boston Marathon this year. ChafeX worked like a charm.

I didn’t wear tape on my toes. I applied several layers of ChafeX to my toes and under the belt. I ran for FamilyAid Boston this year and we had custom singlets. I couldn’t risk bleeding through my shirt, so I used my silicon roll on which also worked perfectly.

I had never worn this shirt for more than a 5 mile run. I didn’t want to try two new things on my chest on race day.

I have worn the 3M tape on my toes since 2005 or so. I had enough confidence in ChafeX to go without the tape, and it really worked. I have all of my toe nails! I also didn’t have any hot spots on my feet.

Check out this instructional video on how to apply ChafeX. Here is the link to their site.

I would recommend ChafeX to anyone. It really works and you can use it anywhere on your body.

Run Well my Friends!

Andy

© 2016 andrew nagelin

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Do you get muscle cramps

Do you get muscle cramps?

Every athlete experiences muscle cramps at one time or another. It may be during an event or during a rigorous training or practice session.

The first time I ran the Boston Marathon, in 2003, my left calf had cramps that were so bad I thought I would not be able to finish the race.

A  few years ago I discovered Hyland’s Leg Cramps tablets at The Run for All Ages. Hyland was a race sponsor and had a table at the race. I stopped by to talk to the folks at the table and they told me about Hyland and their Leg Camps products.

The Leg Cramps comes in quick dissolve tablets, pill or ointment. The pills are great to take before a race and the quick dissolve tablets are good for out on the course. The ointment can be used before an event or to manage cramping after an event.

The tablets contain Quinine which I had read were given to people with restless leg syndrome. They told me that quinine helped with muscle cramps also.

Since discovering Hyland’s Leg Cramp tablets I have taken them with me on almost every marathon and many half marathons. I put 2 to 4 tablets in some foil and tuck them in my belt. The tablets melt under your tongue in no time and seem to work.

A few times I have taken the tablets before a race if I think I may need them.

My testimonial

At the 2015 Boston Marathon Expo I saw the people from Hyland and they asked me if I would record a testimonial.

This is not a paid endorsement. I did receive a few bottles of the quick dissolve tablets and had fun doing the recording.

Have you ever tried these?

Run well my friends,

Andy

© 2015 andrew nagelin

2016 My First 5K Medal

2016 My First 5K Medal Design

It’s time to finalize the design for the 2016 My First 5K Medal, and I need your help. For the past two years I have put the race year on the bottom of the medal. This has worked well, but it’s time to update the medal.

The idea behind the My First 5K medal is to provide a medal for runners to celebrate their accomplishment, and help races with fund raising. I want to provide a quality medal that is not prohibitively expensive. Getting the balance between quality and price is a challenge.

Catalog medals do not have dates because they are mass-produced. A race like The Boston Marathon has the full race date, but they hand out 40,000 medals and runners pay a lot of money to run that race.

What do runners want?

I’ve received plenty of catalog medals and I’ve run plenty of races without a medal. This year I ran The Great Bay Half Marathon and received the medal on the left of the photo below. The ribbon held a quality medal and the year was on the ribbon.

I thought this was a great idea. It’s much easier to see the year on the ribbon and knowing which year the medal is from is all I need to know. Then I ran the Hallmark Health Healthy Strides 5K and received the medal in the middle for being first in my age group. Only winners received medals, none of the kids or other runners who ran their first 5K that  day received a medal.

I like the gold print on the blue ribbon. The ribbon only says Hallmark Health and does not name the race, year or say 1st place or anything. Hopefully twenty years from now I will remember when I ran this race. The medal is a catalog medal which is mass produced.

My First 5K Medal is on the right of the photo below. You can see the year on the bottom of this medal. To keep the medal price reasonable, the year is as specific as I can get.

The problem with this design is that any left over medals at the end of the year are scrap. Who wants a medal with the wrong date on it? This is to celebrate an accomplishment, it’s not just a trinket.

My plan is to use a ribbon like Great Bay and remove the year from the medal. In its place I will put the celebratory laurel leaves. The overall look of the My First 5K Medal will remain the same including the same finish.

The ribbon will be wider, use a similar white font and the ribbon hanger will be a bit more substantial. Anyone who has seen the My First 5K Medal knows how it feels in your hand and the weight: it’s a real medal.

My goal is to eliminate scrap medals, reduce costs and increase fund raising for races and the charities that they support.

I’m asking for your opinion and advice. Will you take my survey and let me know how you feel about my new design?

SURVEY LINK

2016 my first 5k medal

View The Race

One of the joys of running is discovering new places or new courses near home. Running is the ideal speed for touring the countryside or city neighborhoods. In a car everything flies by to quickly to appreciate and walking is too slow.

Often, runners will drive or run a course before the race. Many runners want to know what to expect and be able to anticipate hills and general conditions. Avoiding surprises can help with race performance. A hill on a map never looks the same as when you are at the bottom looking up.

Now you can re-con a course from the comfort of home with

View The Race

race videos, view the raceView The Race has created race course videos for about 200 races across the country. They drive the race route and provide a narrated, condensed video. In about 5 minutes for a 5K or 10K you get to see the entire race course. You may have seen their videos on some race event web sites. I always thought the videos were fun to watch and helpful. But getting a course video was rare.

When I discovered View The Race I felt like I hit the jack pot. Granted, there are over 40,000 races in the US each year and this site only has 200. But what a great way to scout out your next race.

If you think it’s exciting to go to a race web site, look at photos and read about a race, try viewing some of these course videos. That will have you reaching for your credit card!

Well over half of the videos are for New England races. I live in the GBA, so yeah for me! Other locations include California, Canada, Florida, The Carolinas and Virginia.

Check out View The Race and let me know what you think. Is this the coolest thing ever?

Run well my friends,

Andy

CoffeeBar

I first met the founders of New Grounds Food at a Meetup in Somerville.

Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari were students at Northeastern University at the time. They told the group about the CoffeeBar they had developed which was organic, vegan, gluten-free and delicious.

They were still deep in the trenches of start-up mode and didn’t have any samples that night. Recently they sent a sample pack for me to try.

CoffeeBar Review

coffeebar, coffee, caffeine

The sample pack contains two Mocha  Latte CoffeeBars. The package is easy to open and durable enough to survive a trip to the gym, office or class in your bag.

The package opens easily and without a lot of noise. This makes it handy for class or to open when you are driving.

When I opened the package I got an immediate earthy, sweet aroma of coffee with complex, subtle hints of spices and chocolate.

Many energy bars look like and taste like a candy bar. CoffeeBar looks more like a chewy brownie that you can’t wait to sink your teeth into.

The main ingredients in Coffee Bars are organic dates and oats. This gives the bar a nice chewy, substantial mouth feel. Coffee Bar also contains chia seeds and cashews so you get some crunch and a nutty flavor.

coffee bar, coffeebar

The star ingredient in CoffeeBar is organic coffee. Johnny and Ali first came up with the idea for this product when they had 8AM classes at Northeastern and no time for coffee or breakfast. Coffee can spill and no one wants to hear you drinking it during lectures.

They came up with the idea of incorporating real coffee into a food bar that they could take with them and eat on the way to class or during a lecture.

With caffeine in a food bar they were able to incorporate coffee and breakfast into one convenient item for people on the go.

A great idea takes off

At the 2013 Husky Startup Challenge at Northeastern University, Coffee Bar was awarded “Audience Favorite Winner” and $500.

They pitched their product to the judges at the Entrepreneurs Club as “best way to have your coffee and breakfast all-in-one” without worrying about any spills or crumbs.”

They had a winning idea, but they still needed a way to get it into your hands: packaging.

On September 22nd, 2014 they started a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first minimum order of packaging for their CoffeeBars. Within 15 hours they received the full $10,000 that they needed. Over the next 44 days they raised nearly $50,000 from 1,000 backers.

When you see and open a CoffeeBar package, you can tell that the money was well spent. The package is attractive and durable. It is also easy and quiet to open.

How to get CoffeeBars

Currently CoffeeBars are available on line at the New Grounds Food Shop. You can buy a 2 bar sample pack or a 12 bar box. For added convenience Johnny and Ali offer a subscription service. You can get monthly deliveries for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

My opinion

I love coffee, so I found their idea intriguing. I was concerned that the bar would taste like coffee grounds or just not be that great. There are new food bar products all the time and some are just not that good.

It turns out that the bars do taste good and are easy to eat without a mess. No crumbs and nothing sticks to your fingers either. I could see having a box of these in the office for a morning snack.

For a runner heading out early for a race or a long run, CoffeeBars would be a great way to get your caffeine and breakfast. I need to have some coffee before I race or go out for a long run. It’s part of my routine.

The durable packaging makes it easy to keep a few in your running bag.

For this review I received a sample 2-pack of CoffeeBars to try. All opinions are my own. 

  • Have you ever tried CoffeeBars?
  • Do you need caffeine before you race?

Run well my friends,

Andy

How to choose a running watch

A running watch is essential for anyone who is serious about running. A running watch can cost as little as $25 to over $400. It can be a substantial investment.

For most runners it is the most expensive running item that they own. Fortunately a running watch lasts much longer than the second most expensive item; running shoes.

Just like shoe companies, each watch company claims to have the best watch. Much like running shoes, no single running watch brand or model works for everyone. With all of the brands, features and claims it can be difficult to choose the right watch for you.

How to choose a running watch?

The first question to ask yourself is what you’ll use your watch for and how often will you use it. Expensive watches have lots of cool features. But how often will you use them. How often do you use 90% of the features on your smart phone?

How often you will use your watch is also important. If you train and race often, a good quality and feature rich watch may be for you. As a casual runner, a watch with a stop watch feature may work for you.

Do you really need a GPS running watch?

If you’re just starting out, your wrist watch is all you need. Many training plans for beginners focus more on the duration of your run. Speed is not the primary focus for beginners. It’s getting out there and getting started.

If your goal is to walk, jog or run for 20 or 30 minutes, your watch is all you need. Make note of the time you start your walk, jog or run. When you get to the 10 or 15 minute mark, turn around and head back.

My running club has a walk to run program every year. We have 30 minute work outs that begin with 1 minute of jogging followed by 4 minutes of walking. We repeat this six times for a 30 minute workout.

With 50 or 60 people in a training group, runners often finish at different times. The idea is to do your best  and improve a little each week. Each week we increase the time running and decrease the time walking.

If you are training by your self, set a time goal and turn around at the half way point.

Tip: When starting out, spend your money on a good pair of shoes at a running store. You do not need a GPS watch.

There’s an app for that!

If you have a smart phone, which just about everyone under 60 years old does, you do not need a GPS running watch.

Your can use the clock on your smartphone to time your walk or run. Most smartphones also come with a clock feature which has a stop watch function. Using either the clock or stop watch features to time your workout will get you started.

Running Apps

Fiddling with your phone to set or check the time can be a nuisance. RunKeeper and MapMyRun are two popular FREE apps to get you to the next level.

RunKeeper has a FREE feature rich version that allows you to track mileage, duration/time, average pace, splits, calories burned, and elevation changes. On your computer you can see a map of your run and a graphic of all of your stats.

RunKeeper has several advantages over the clock on your phone. First of all you just launch the app, press the start button and go. You don’t have to remember the time you started. RunKeeper will also announce when you hit certain points in your workout. This can help you turn around at the right time.

RunKeeper beyond the clock

RunKeeper, running appsRunKeeper has many cool features available to you for FREE. The Dashboard page shows an over view of your activities.

The Reports page will give you more details such as distance, duration and calories burned per month. You can also track your cross training activities.

The Activities page allows you to see a map of your route, distance, duration, average page and calories burned for each activity.

The Training page has training plans to help your finish a 5K, 10K, Half or full Marathon. Most of these are free. If you are preparing for your first 5K race their 8 week “Beginner 5K” plan is available for free.

There are other features which you can explore. RunKeeper is FREE and can be downloaded to your smartphone.

My RunKeeper Experience

I first used RunKeeper when my GPS watch froze 15 minutes before a half-marathon.

Fortunately I had downloaded RunKeeper to my phone a few weeks earlier. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was thrilled to have a solution.

As the race started, I started RunKeeper and tucked the phone into my pocket.

At that moment I discovered my biggest problem using a phone-based app; I had to start the app and get the phone into a pocket while trying to start a race.

It’s too easy to drop a phone, or hit the wrong button and not start the app.

Tip: If you plan to use a smartphone app for training or running you should get an arm band carrying case for it.

Over time, I found it difficult to keep the app from closing just before the race started. I found that you had to start the app close to beginning the race, or your work out, and keep an eye on it.

For workouts this shouldn’t be an issue.

The first time I used RunKeeper, I discovered that it makes an announcement every 10 minutes. It will announce your pace, time running, distance traveled and how far ahead or behind you are from your goal pace.

I thought it would be annoying for everyone around me, even though I thought it was pretty cool! But everyone else thought it was cool also, and asked what I was using. RunKeeper was new at the time so no one knew anything about it.

I used RunKeeper a dozen times or so, but went back to Garmin eventually. I just didn’t like having to deal with my phone at race starts. I was also worried about exposing my phone to some of the harsh conditions I run in.

MapMyRun One Step Beyond

MapMyRun, Running appsMapMyRun is the other popular FREE smart phone app. It tracks all of your stats like RunKeeper, but it also allows you to see other runner’s routes.

As a new runner this can be very helpful. You can see the most popular routes in your area and look for routes that match your needs.

MapMyRun shows you a map and elevation graph for each route. You can send the map to your phone and follow a course someone else has scouted out for you already. Pretty cool stuff.

Some races use MapMyRun to provide race maps for their runners. Runners want to know where they are going and where the hills are.

I have limited experience with MapMyRun.   The web site is feature rich and they offer some features that RunKeeper doesn’t such as the running routes of other runners and ability to send one of these maps to your smartphone.

If you are looking for a smartphone based running app, I would advise you to give MapMyRun a close look.

Do you need a running watch?

We’ve looked at the option of using your watch or smartphone for training and racing. These are good, low or no cost options.

Considering what we’ve discussed above, do you still think you need a GPS running watch?

Some veteran runners will “run naked.” They leave their watch at home and find out what their time is at the finish line.

Some people train without a watch. It’s liberating not to be aware of your stats and run by feel instead.

Running naked isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you have a fixed time period to run, or need to time a training run.

As a new runner or participant in a walk-to-run program,  a basic wrist watch or smartphone app will do.

If you love tech or are making the step from beginner to more serious running, a GPS running watch is a great piece of running gear.

Resources to help choose a running watch

As I said at the beginning “A running watch can be a substantial investment.” Prices range from $49.00 to over $500.00. Before walking into your local running store you should do same research.

Running Watch resources

A good resource is the 2015 GPS Watch Buyers Guide, from the The Wired RunnerThe site offers great product reviews and has a Pros and Cons of GPS Watches page that you might find helpful.

Buying a GPS running watch can be confusing with so many brands and features to choose from. The Wired Runner helps by letting you select a price, category, brand or activity type to help you narrow things down a bit.

Take your time, read the reviews and ask other runners. If you have a local running store, go talk to them. The runners who work at your local store know from experience what most runners use and can make a recommendation based on your needs.

Some of these watches are multi-sport and have features a runner wont use, and that you wont want to pay for.

Running Watch Brands

Polar is a popular sports watch brand, but the GPS running watch selection is limited and starts at $229.95 for therunning watch, polar M400 M400 GPS Running Watch.The M400 also can track your activity 24/7 which is a feature many running watches do not have.

Their A300 fitness watch is $169.95 but is not listed as a running watch and has features similar to a FitBit including 24/7 activity and sleep monitoring.

These features could be just the right combination for runners looking for something more than a running watch.

The “Polar Beat” is a FREE smartphone app that you can pair with their H10 Heart Rate Sensor ($79.95) and get many of the same features as a GPS running watch. 

I have seen some treadmills that will sync with a Polar Watch. If your gym has one of these treadmills, Polar may be a good choice for you. I always find it frustrating to add my treadmill workouts manually to Garmin Connect. Often I forget the details by the time I get home.

Garmin makes a wide variety of GPS products, including running watches. Garmin’s running watch line is the “Forerunner” series and they dominate this category. I started with the Forerunner 410 a few years ago and now wear the Forerunner 610.

gps running watch, garmin 610

Garmin tends to keep their top of the line Forerunner watch priced at $399.99. As new models are introduced, they reduce their price on the previous models. They seem to keep some models around for a few years even as new models are introduced.

This is great if you have been eyeing a watch that is out of your budget and have the patience to wait.

The good news for a first time running watch buyer is that all of their watches get discounted eventually. If you are patient and check the site often you can usually get a nice bargain.

Forerunner 630, how to choose a running watchThe Forerunner 630 is their current “top of the line” and is $399.99 or $449.99 for the “Bundle” which includes the heart rate monitor strap.

Many runners like having a heart rate monitor (HRM) but hate wearing the strap. You can always buy the HRM strap later and perhaps get it on sale. It’s not something you need with your first running watch.

The ForeRunner 630 is an amazing watch with a color touch-screen hi-res display. Some new features that the Forerunner 610 does not have include the ability to display maps and automatically upload your results to Garmin Connect.

Click the link above for complete details.

ForeRunner 15, GPS watch, how to choose a running watchFortunately, the Garmin Forerunner line begins with the Forerunner 15 which is currently on sale for $99.99. Adding the heart rate strap will cost you $30.00. $129.99 for a GPS watch with heart rate monitor is very good.

This would be a good choice for a new runner looking for their first GPS watch. Just like with the ForeRunner 630, you don’t need to get the HRM strap to start out.

Between the Forerunner 15 and the Forerunner 630 are many different models and options for you to choose from.

TomTom is another well known navigation device brand that makes a wide variety of GPS products. You may have one of their GPS units in your car.

TomTom, how to choose a running watchMuch like Garmin, TomTom is a navigation product company first. They sell devices for boating and commercial applications.

Running and fitness watches and devices are a line of business for them, but not the focus of their business.

While I think they make good fitness products, I find their web site poorly laid out and difficult  to find information on watches.

 

Running Watch Options

One option is to use your current watch or download a smartphone app. Very inexpensive but may not be as convenient as a watch. Phones can get dropped and are expensive to replace. An everyday watch doesn’t have the features a basic running watch comes with.

Another option is to take the plunge and buy a GPS watch. There is a wide price range available and several manufacturers to choose from. At the low end you still get many features, but not all of the cool stuff the higher end watches offer. You have many options and do not gave to break the bank.

I hope this article and links are helpful to you.

Run well my friends,

Andy

© 2015 andrew nagelin