Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stride Box Review

Recently, I subscribed to Stride Box, a monthly subscription box for runners. For $15 per month, you get a box that includes nutrition for athletes (like gels and nutrition bars) and products for runners (like a headlamp or lipbalm).

The nutrition bit is similar to Kona Kase, the monthly subscription box I used to subscribe to that contained food-stuffs for people who are very active. I loved Kona Kase, but after a year of the service, I was starting to get repeat items. To me the job of the subscription boxes is trying new things, so I decided to cancel Kona Kase and explore Stride Box.

I was very excited to check out what Stride Box had to offer this month. Here's a picture of what's inside.

I think the box included a nice variety. As with other monthly subscription boxes, Stride Box had a card listing all the items packed in the box. One interesting thing was that they listed the value of each item. Unlike Kona Kase, I didn't see any discount codes listed on the insert, but perhaps you have to go online for that.

Here's what was in the box.

I'm pretty excited about the value of this box, which seems excellent. I haven't tried any of the products yet, but have a few I'm very excited to experiment with. I love a good recovery drink, so I'm looking forward to trying the Fluid. I got to try the GU recovery drink when I was using Kona Kase and found it made a difference after doing an OCR, so hopefully this will be similarly good. (Because finding the GU locally has been hard.) I'm also excited to try the bonus salted caramel GU. I've heard many people speak very favorably about it, so it will be fun to try a new flavor of GU. Also, you can't go wrong with anti-chafing cream for your long runs. I use a anti-chafing stick all the time but could try this too since it has bonus moisturizing. 

There are a couple of products I'm less likely to use. For example, I'm not a huge user of electrolyte add-ins for my fluids. Maybe I should. I do sweat, but not so much that I feel I need extra electrolytes or that I've had my performance hampered by this sort of thing. I only occasionally use electrolyte brews during the hottest days of summer. I'll stash these for then. (I also have some bonus electrolyte mixes saved from Kona Kase.) I'm also not sure that I'll use the lace lockers. I'm sure they work well, but they are super dorky looking. While I don't mind this per say, I also don't feel that my shoes coming undone is something I worry about a ton. I've only had it happen in a race once (the Gives a Hoot 5K in Northampton). I'm not fast enough that having to stop to tie my shoes will matter in most races. Plus, I usually run for fun instead of to PR. 

All in all, I'm pretty excited about the Stride Box. The value seems great, the products are interesting, and it's always fun to get mail. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're a runner or into endurance fitness. (Kona Kase is good too.)

My Stride Box actually came in the mail at a funny time. For those of you who have been following my blog, you know I've been training for the race series that the running club I'm in is doing this year. The series kicks off on April 6 with an 8 miler. I've been training hard three days a week with a speed session, a tempo run, and a long run. I cross train on the other days, in general doing another cardio and a couple of strength training days. I also try to do a day of stretching/yoga (which I admit I totally dislike.) Things had been going very well up until last Wednesday. 

Back in November, while doing the Cider Donut 10K in Amherst, I injured my left calf while running up one of the hills on the course. Over the last three plus months I've been working hard to rehab my calf. I've done foam rolling, compression socks, yoga/dynamic stretching, and strengthening moves, such as calf raises. Once my calf was starting to feel better in early January, I started adding hill repeats into my workouts to strengthen the calf even more. 

This seemed to be going great! I was getting much stronger on hills, which was a good thing since lots of the races in the race series have hills. I was also feeling more confident about my running since I could tackle a hilly course. 

Last Wednesday, on a day with unpleasant weather, I was doing some hill repeats on the treadmill at the gym. Because of the polar vortex, I've been on the treadmill a lot this winter. While I don't prefer it for hills, it does give you some flexibility with steepness and length for your hills. Since I'd been doing well with my calf, I decided to tackle a few longer and trickier hills. After the first long hill I knew something was wrong -- my calf was hurting oddly. With determination, if not smarts, I still finished my workout tackling the rest of my hills. I foam rolled and later in the day felt okay. 

So on Saturday I decided to go for an eight mile long run to prepare for the 8 mile race in early April. Things went only okay. I felt sluggish and my legs felt heavy. When I finished the run it was clear that my left calf was again in a world of hurt. I had obviously done more "damage" on Wednesday's run than I thought.

Obviously this is a huge bummer. I had to take some days off from training especially since my upper hamstring started to hurt in addition to my calf -- probably because I was negatively adjusting my stride during my eight mile run without noticing because of my calf. Yesterday, I was able to do a three mile slow run (for me 10:30/mile) and felt okay. My calf seems fine today as well. 

I think I might just need to take it easier with the hills/speed training for a while. This is kind of a bummer since I was hoping to really race well in the 8 miler on April 6. However being healthy is more important than being fast since I'm registered for the first two races in the race series on April 6 (8 milers) and 26 (10K). Being able to participate is key. The 8 miler is going to be a little bit hilly, so I'm going to have to make sure to stay safe. Hopefully I'll be able to do a bit of leg work before then and feel stronger. 

I also have a fun run that I'm doing this Sunday with my dad and stepmom. In honor of my dad and my birthday's we're doing the Max's O'Hartford 5K.The race looks flat, fast, and fun. It will be a great time with family. I am glad that I was able to do that slow run yesterday. I was worried at first when everything happened last week that I wouldn't even be able to participate in the 5K. Now I know that I can -- I'll just have to go slow. 

Hopefully I'll be back to my formerly slightly less slow running speed and can get back into "serious" training. For now, the focus is on getting my calf and hamstring back up to snuff and completing the races I have scheduled. I'll be happy to participate and have a good time. That's more my focus than PRs anyway.

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