- If you’re looking for a caffeine-free option, try new Strawberry Kiwi Roctane GU for a tart taste and plenty of energy on the run.
- New Salted Caramel GU (yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds) has extra electrolytes, which is a great choice if you sweat heavily.
- The Passion Fruit Roctane GU flavor goes beyond great taste because it supports the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which works to provide opportunities to athletes with physical disabilities.
- Be a kid again when you mix it up with the GU Peanut Butter & Blackberry Split 10-Pack. Bonus: the special $10 MSRP makes these a buck each. We keep daring each other in the office to make a full-on PBJ sando with this blend. If you do it, send us a picture!
Ultimate Direction designs and builds state-of-the-art hydration gear – they deliver products designed and tested by top athletes who truly understand the demands of elite training. Their new Scott Jurek Collection was designed by (you guessed it!) seasoned ultramarathoner Scott Jurek from first sketch to final testing.
The packs and belts in this lineup feature streamlined construction intended to give you easy access to what you need most on the run. Add one or more of these tools to your arsenal and attack the trail with confidence.
SJ Ultra Vest
The Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest is a featherweight champ, tipping the scales at just 7.5 ounces (13 oz with bottles) while offering 9.2 liters of storage space for apparel and other essentials. Pack dual 20oz bottles in the front pockets for quick access to hydration. This pack is available in small, medium and large sizes to help you get a more custom fit. (Watch a video on the SJ Ultra)
Jurek Grip Handheld 20oz
If you seek the simplicity of a handheld bottle, try the Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip Handheld 20oz. The bite valve is the truly genius part of this product. Bite and sip on the soft, medical grade silicone Kicker Valve for fast hydration. Kick the valve to the side with your teeth after drinking to securely stop the water flow. (Watch a video on the Grip)
Running in hot weather is enough of a challenge. Moisture-transfer fabrics can certainly help pull sweat away from your skin, but when that isn’t enough, it’s time to bust out the secret weapons: anti-chafe products. Here are a few of our favorites.
The ease of using Body Glide 2.5oz is a win in hotter weather. Keep one at home, one at work and one in your gym bag so you’re never caught without chafe protection. This balm glides on easily, with no mess. Swipe it onto chafe-prone areas before you head out for your run, and enjoy more miles in comfort.
Bodyglide Liquified Powder 1.6oz
We appreciate the non-greasy feeling of Bodyglide Liquified Powder 1.6oz. The creamy formula turns into a dry shield against chafing and blisters after application. Apply this cream to chafe-prone areas or to feet to prevent blisters.
2Toms SportShield Roll-On 1.5oz
Easily prevent chafing with the 2Toms SportShield Roll-On 1.5oz. The formula gives you a smooth and invisible layer of chafe prevention that will not rub off. This silicone-based, non-staining product washes off easily with soap and water after your workout.
We’ve been thirsty for more innovation on the hydration front, and UltrAspire delivered with a quenching line of products in their 2013 line. Working with their team of pro athletes, the company has developed some truly extraordinary products to equip you for your run.
Based on feedback from some UltrAspire athletes who reported that their hydration systems felt heavier over the course of a run, the company found that sweat and salt were being absorbed by the webbing. They addressed this problem by introducing the sweat-proof webbing that can be found in all of their 2013 packs.
Each product in the 2013 UltrAspire lineup is designed to fill a specific need, so whether you’re a runner who likes handhelds or hydration packs, UltrAspire probably has something for you.
For a long trek on the trails, gear up with the UltrAspire Alpha. A two-liter bladder allows you to bring ample hydration with you, and a large bottom back pocket is easy to access via magnet closures on either side. A small moisture-proof pocket on the right shoulder strap lets you stash electrolyte capsules, and three additional front pockets give you fast access to gels or chews. This pack is available in two sizes (SM/MD and L/XL) so that you can enjoy a more custom fit.
Yes, this is a peculiar-looking bottle, but don’t get judgey just yet. The UltrAspire StemCell brings you sleek technology that’s been popular in Europe for years. This slim, ergo-angled bottle is designed to fit into most vest front pockets, and a kink-resistant, 16-inch drink tube allows you to sip while you run. If you stash this 16 ounce bottle in a front pocket, you can even sip hands-free. Maybe they’re onto something across the pond…
Bring a few more essentials along for the run with the UltrAspire Quantum Belt 2013. The stretch mesh and compression strap provide such a secure fit that this belt doesn’t even need a snap buckle to stay in place. The large front stretch mesh pocket gives you enough space to stow a smartphone and some keys, and two back elastic pockets let you carry nutrition and electrolyte caps. There’s even a pair of race number clips so this belt is ready to go for your next event. Read more…
In the 30 minutes following a workout, your body is hormonally primed to absorb nutrients and deliver them to cells for rapid recovery. Since it takes you several hours to digest solid food and benefit from the nutrients, a drink mix can be a more effective way to refuel immediately following a workout.
Each recovery drink mix is a little different when it comes to carb and protein makeup, and some include other components that are beneficial for recovery. If you don’t have time to try out all our brands, don’t fret. Our staff members have tried out plenty of recovery drinks, and here’s what we think:
For a hefty dose of carbs:
If you’re looking for a drink mix with a high carb count, try Endurox R4 (52g carbohydrate per serving) or GU Recovery Brew (52g carbohydrate per serving). Carbohydrate needs will vary from person to person and depending on the duration of your run. Play around with your post-run carb intake to figure out how many grams of carbs you need to fully recover and be ready for your next run.
For generous protein:
All of our recovery drink mixes include protein because it is critical for muscle recovery. If you want a drink mix with more protein, try Hammer Recoverite (10g protein per serving) or Endurox R4 (13g protein per serving). Remember that it’s important to limit use of recovery drink mixes to post workout, because protein can be difficult for the body to digest if consumed just before a workout.
For a little fat:
If you want a recovery drink mix with a little fat, try GU Recovery Brew Chocolate Smoothie (2g fat per serving) or Endurox R4 (1.5g fat per serving). Adequate fat in the diet can actually help to decrease muscle soreness and inflammation, and can also help your body to keep its glycogen stores intact. Read more…
We carry a variety of excellent iPhone and smartphone running accessories, making it easy to take your phone with you on the run. Here are a few of our faves:
Nathan Sonic Boom
The Nathan Sonic Boom carries your iPhone in a secure pouch that straps to your arm with a lightweight, moisture-wicking band. Check out the Sonic Boom for iPhone 5 or the Sonic Boom for iPhone 4 & 4S to carry your tunes with you when you hit the roads or trails for your run. The pouch itself has a clear front window that protects your phone and allows you to easily access touchscreen controls.
Amphipod ArmPod SmartView
Carry your iPhone, iPod touch or other similar-sized media player in the Amphipod ArmPod SmartView. You can slip your device into the secure zipper pocket to protect it on your run. This accessory has a comfortable, chafe-free arm band and a clear screen to give you easy access to all your touchscreen controls. It even has an additional padded pocket for a key, an ID card or other small essentials.
Spibelt Water-Resistant Belt
When the forecast calls for wet weather, slip your smartphone into the Spibelt Water-Resistant Belt. Water-resistant fabric helps to protect your device from sweat and moisture. To protect your phone from more intense weather conditions, we’d suggest placing it in a plastic sandwich bag first and then zip it into the Spibelt pouch. This belt is even race-ready, with race number toggles included.
Nathan QuickDraw Plus Handheld 22 oz
For a handheld way to carry your smartphone (along with 22 oz. of hydration), grab the Nathan QuickDraw Plus Handheld 22 oz. The easy-squeeze bottle is simple to open without damaging your teeth, and the secure zipper pocket on the front is large enough to fit an iPhone 4 or 5 with a case. Slip this bottle onto your hand for simple smartphone storage on the go.
We’re stoked to welcome a new energy gel brand to our all-star lineup. VFuel Energy Gel (formerly ViFuel Energy Gel) is carefully formulated to help endurance runners avoid the performance-crushing sugar crash and maintain stable energy levels.
The gel uses less sugar than many other gels to help provide stable energy. VFuel also uses significantly less sodium than many other energy gel formulations, so you might want to try an electrolyte supplement with your VFuel.
The gel was developed by endurance runners from Colorado, so we know they’re well-versed in endurance trail running, but we wanted to take the gel for a test ride ourselves. We had two of our own endurance trail runners, Erik and Tera, use VFuel exclusively for an entire month. Here’s what they had to say:
RW: What did an average training week look like for you when you were testing VFuel?
Erik (E): I was running about 55-60 miles a week with a lot of five to eight mile runs, two longer runs of 12-18 miles, and one up-tempo run.
Tera (T): I was running about 70 miles a week on average around the buildup to a 50-mile race. I didn’t do any speed work, just long runs building mileage.
RW: How’d you like the taste of VFuel?
T: I found it to be very palatable during a run. It has a very plain flavor, not highly sweet. It has a bit of a bitter aftertaste if I’m taking it before a run, but I didn’t even notice it on the run.
E: Compared to the Clif Vanilla and Clif Cherry Chocolate that I typically use, VFuel had a little edge to it on the aftertaste. It doesn’t have that same sweetness, and it tastes very clean.
RW: How did the gel settle in your stomach?
A running hat is a versatile run accessory to keep in your arsenal, and it can serve a range of functions from offering sun protection to giving you a little extra warmth. Keep these characteristics in mind when shopping for a running hat.
Look for a hat that has superior adjustability, like The North Face Better Than Naked Hat. If your head is on the larger side, try the Brooks Hat, and if you have a smaller head check out the Salomon XT Compact Cap II.
As temps start to heat up, you’ll want a cap with excellent ventilation. The ultra-lightweight fabric and laser cut rear ventilation of the Nike Lightweight Ventilated Run Featherlight Cap will help keep you cool in extreme heat. If you’d prefer to wear a mesh running hat, then take a look at the Brooks Mesh Run Cap, which offers great ventilation through an open mesh construction.
Add a little extra reflectivity to your run with a hi-viz running cap. A hat is a great place to incorporate reflectivity because it’s high up on your body and is easily seen by motorists. The Sugoi RSr Mesh Cap boasts a bold stripe of reflectivity on the right side and reflective piping around the brim and bottom to enhance your visibility.
To avoid the humid, swampy feeling of a poorly designed hat, look for a running cap with fast moisture transfer. A hat like the Saucony Vital Run Cap pulls sweat away from your skin with a sweatband-like liner, and offers a mesh construction that allows perspiration to evaporate more easily.
Shopping for a hydration pack for your run training this spring and summer? Here are a few things to consider.
Fit is the most important thing to think about when choosing a hydration pack. No matter how awesome a pack is, you’ll never wear it if it doesn’t fit properly. Some packs, like the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set Pack, are available in sizes. Even if the pack you like best is not available in sizes, many offer adjustable shoulder and sternum straps with side compression cinch straps so you can create a nearly custom fit. Women might find an even better fit in a women’s specific pack, like the Nathan VaporShape or Nathan Intensity 2L Race Vests.
For guidance on finding the right fit, watch Ultimate Direction’s Video on Vest Measurements.
2. Pocket Placement
If you want to rock a pack with pockets and pouches, make sure they are located in a place that will be comfortable for you. All the packs we carry are designed for running, so it really comes down to what you think will be most convenient. Think about your range of motion when running, and choose a pack with pockets that will be easily accessible, but won’t get in the way. Ask yourself… “Do I need several front access pockets like featured on the UltrAspire Revolution? Or do I need a pack with rear pockets to access things when resting or re-filling my hydration reservoir, like the CamelBak XCT?”
3. Hydration Capacity
Your hydration needs will vary depending on the intensity and duration of your workout, how much you sweat, and your personal preference. Think about how much fluid you’ll want to carry with you, and select a pack that can accommodate your needs.
If you want to keep the weight down and just carry less hydration, try a more streamlined 2-liter vest like the Nathan HPL #028 Race Vest. If your hydration needs vary from one run to the next, try a pack with a bladder and additional pockets for bottles or flasks. When fully loaded, the Ultimate Direction Highline Pack can provide well over 3 liters of hydration. Read more…
A GPS watch can be a big investment (though we have several GPS watches priced under $150). If you’re going to drop the cash, you want to make sure you’ll get the value during your workouts and races. We all know that the big benefit of GPS is that it lets you easily track your pace and distance covered. But here are 5 more things a GPS watch can help you do.
1. Online Upload of Data
Many GPS watches sync up with online programs that store your run data and allow you to compare stats from one run to the next. If you’re working toward a specific running goal, tracking your progress over time is a powerful tool to help you qualify for that next race, or set a new PR.
2. Real-Time Pace Info
Set your goal pace before you take off for your run, and your GPS watch will notify you (typically via a beep or a buzz) if you’re running too fast or too slow. Some models, like the Garmin Forerunner 10, can notify you as soon as you set a PR on a run. This kind of pace information is extremely valuable for training and on race day.
3. Customizable Display
Most traditional run watches don’t let you choose a personalized display, but GPS watches do. Select the info you want to see when you’re on the run, so you don’t have to scroll through different screens to get the data you need.
4. Hands-Free Split Markers
All GPS watches will record split times for you at pre-set distances, so you can keep your focus on running hard. Pre-set your split distances before you leave for your run, and you won’t have to lift a finger to record your split times.
5. Map Your Routes and Share with Friends
You can use your GPS watch to plan out new running routes. Map the routes you run and share them with fellow runners for a little friendly competition, or get inspiration to try a friend’s route. It’s a fun and motivational way to take part in the running community, even when you’re running solo.