From Dread-mill to FUN!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Footpod to review Zwift 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!


Wintertime is here and for many of us and that makes it all the more hard to get outside and get a run in. This is the time of year where a lot of us, reluctantly, turn to the indoors and the dreaded treadmill, or the dreadmill, as I like to call it.

The treadmill is not my favorite but I also don’t like running in the frigid cold. It’s a conundrum and thus, Winter is really hard for me to keep my motivation for running and exercise. I’ve learned a few tricks to keep me on the treadmill for a decent run and now I have another trick up my sleeve… Zwift!

This is the footpod!

Zwift is a digital platform that matches your speed on the treadmill to an avatar of you in a virtual world. You can run on your own, touring the virtual world of Watopia (the Zwift world), while other people, real people, are also running or biking in the same world. You can also join a run club or group run.

What you need:
-A treadmill (nothing special needed)
-A foot pod (Zwift makes their own) or supported blue tooth treadmill (like these)
-A device to connect to Zwift (Computer, iPhone or Ipad – right now Zwift is not compatible with Android devices.)
-Optional: a separate device or phone to connect to the companion app, which makes it easier to chat while doing a group run.


My Experience

The first time I tried Zwift was for the BibRave 5k group run. All I had to do was to sign up for the event by clicking it and then when it was time, you join the event and it stages you at the virtual starting line while everyone else pops in. When it’s time to start, you start running on your treadmill and your avatar runs your same pace in the virtual world. If anyone else is running your pace, you’ll see them next to you or if they’re faster, you’ll see them pass you, just like in the real world. You can wave to them or give them a thumbs up while they run past. It was pretty cool to run with fellow BibRave pros from across the country.

The second time I tried it, I just picked from the pre-made courses/worlds (I chose running through a volcano) in the Zwift app and did my own thing. There were other people running and biking at the same time and you would see them zip by in real time.

My footpod and the iPhone I was using paired really well; I had no problems (I know some of the BibRave pros some difficulty getting their footpod to stay connected while in the run). I do really hope Zwift will soon be compatible with Andriod products. I use an Android phone and tablet and the only way I could connect to Zwift was on my boyfriend’s tiny iPhone. I think having a larger device that I could bring to the rec (like a tablet) would make Zwift even more enjoyable. Zwift does work with a computer, but I thought that would be really weird to bring my MacBook Pro to the rec center and set it in front of the treadmill.¬† ūüėõ


Innovation

I think Zwift is really on to something.¬† I think it is really cool that you can organize a group run with people from across the country and actually run with them at your own speed. This could mean meeting new people, spending time with friends and family that don’t live near you, and even connecting like-minded communities from around the world.


Practicality

Besides connecting people, I also love the idea that this brings new motivation for running and exercise. Like I said in the beginning, I have such a hard time getting outside for a run in the cold months and the treadmill never sounds appealing either. Zwift takes the dreadmill and makes it fun (or at least bearable for those that REALLY hate the treadmill). Instead of counting down the tenth of each mile, I spent the time watching my little avatar running through different, beautifully crafted scenes.

Right now, the Zwift Run platform is free. Zwift did start as a cycling platform and I know they have a monthly membership but I’m not entirely sure what is included. I don’t know if the run platform will eventually move to a paid membership but I definitely think that it’s worth the cost of a footpod to give some more motivation to running on a treadmill.

I know there are a ton more features that I have yet to discover, but I’m excited to have this in my so-called “bag of tricks” to keep me motivated this winter.


Get started:

Visit Zwift online to learn more.

Get a footpod! Use coupon code BibRave15 to save 15% (available for the first 1000 sold).


See what the other BibRace Pros think:

RunNerd Girl | TmilesandRunning | The Running French Prof | Running with Log | The Marathon Lady | Running Through Life | Run Katy Run | Elbow Glitter | With Purpose and Kindness | Bluegrass BAMR |

The CTM Band – A Screen Play (Product Review)

(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 find and write race reviews!)

CHARACTERS

WHITNEY – a busy, multi-job runner that needs more time and less to do
BIB RAVE Рa place to read and write race reviews
CTM Band Рa recovery tool
WHITNEY’S ATHLETES – the Green Mountain HS track and cross country teams
BEN – Whitney’s unsuspecting boyfriend

ACT I

SCENE 1
EXT. FRONT OF HOUSE, END OF DRIVEWAY

MONTAGE: We see a series of video clips of a girl running over trails and streets followed by her rubbing her aching muscles….

We all know that you don’t become a better runner by JUST running. You have to change up your running workouts, add some strength training in there and maybe a stretch or two (or 20). Ah, that generic RECOVERY term that we all hear and know we should do more of but it’s time-consuming and maybe a little boring. It’s usually the step that most runners skimp on or even skip altogether. Personally, I’ve added little tricks to my routine to keep that recovery in there, but honestly, I could probably be better about it. I usually stretch, wear compression clothing while going about the rest of my day, and try to eat the right things after completing a workout (i.e. protein). For years, I’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis, tight hamstrings,¬†and shin splints. It’s definitely time to change it up.

SCENE 2
INT. THE LIVING ROOM – DAY
Enter CTM BAND

I have only been a Bib Rave pro for about a month now, and the first product I got to try is the CTM Band. So what is it? This stretchy band with golf balls looking knobs attached to it looks like some sort of medieval torture device, but The CTM Band is a tool to help you recover faster from running and exercise in general. It can help relieve muscle spasms, knots, speed up muscle recovery, ease muscle soreness and increase range of motion. And let me tell you, it works!

How do you use it? Luckily the CTM Band website has plenty of informational videos on their website, but basically, you just adjust the band if needed by removing one or more of the knobs, place the knobs on your afflicted muscle (never on any bone), wrap the strand around, tightly, and then move around, stretching the muscle while it’s wrapped for no longer than two minutes. Easy-peasy!

SCENE 3
INT. THE LAB – NIGHT

For the science nerds out there like me: the CTM Band is different from other recovery tools like foam rollers and compression bands. Foam rollers only apply tension¬†and compression bands only squeeze. But the CTM Band uses Compression, Tension, and Movement…hence the name…as forms of Self-Myofascial Release or SMR, to help break up the muscle adhesions you get after working out.¬† Once the CTM Band is removed, blood rushes back to the area bringing nutrient-rich fluid and recovering ensues! Bringing compression, tension and movement all together¬†can help increase range of motion and decrease pain. You’re essentially combining the use of foam rollers, trigger-point bands, compression tools and stretching all in one.

SCENE 4
INT. THE LIVING ROOM
Enter WHITNEY

Like I wrote earlier, I regularly struggle with plantar fasciitis, tight calves,¬†and tight hamstrings. If this product can help with those, we’ll have a winner. I was also intrigued by the idea that it could help with shin splints, sore muscles and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for those times in my life when I experience those things.

The week following the arrival of the CTM Band, I purposely went out for some harder workouts. I ran the hills in my neighborhood, worked out at Red Rocks Amphitheater (think LOTS of stairs) and upped my mileage on “long run” day. In general, I just wore out my legs.

After watching all the “how to” videos on the website, I was ready to try it. Being a science nerd (I do have a Zoology degree after all), I performed an experiment on myself by only using it on ONE SIDE of my body so I could compare.

The results came in fast and STRONG! Literally.¬† The moment after taking the band off different parts of my body, my muscles felt relief. I felt like there was definitely more range of motion, I could stretch them further and the pain and soreness were significantly less. I don’t know if using this tool by itself saves me time, but it definitely reduces the amount of equipment I need to bring out to recover.

ACT II

SCENE 1
EXT. THE TRACK AT GREEN MOUNTAIN HIGH SCHOOL – AFTERNOON

Overall, I’m extremely happy I got to test this product. It will be making a regular appearance in my training and recovery. I can’t wait to try it out on my high school athletes when they complain of shin splints at the beginning of the season or sore muscles as the season is well underway. I’ve already tried it on my boyfriend after he told me his shoulder hurt from climbing. The CTM Band now travels with me when I travel and comes with me when I meet my clients.

I think this product is genius, unique and effective. It is definitely a game changer. I’d like to see other personal trainers, athletic trainers, and physical therapists add this to their repertoire.¬† While it should never replace a doctor’s visit when the need arises, I think this can help aid in faster recovery time and maybe prevent some serious injuries from forming. It is a much-needed invention for our running community.

Trying it on my boyfriend


ACT III

Check out the CTM Band for yourself: WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER
Use coupon code: CTMBIBRAVE to save 20%!

Check out BibRave where you can Find & Review Races! Join us on Tuesdays at 8pm CT for #BibChat, a twitter chat with running-inspired conversations.


Check out the other BibRave Pro’s Reviews:
Jessica’s Re-Inventing Recovery | Mary-Jo’s Opinion | Lindsey’s Review | Amanda’s Post | Danielle’s Blog | Amanda C’s Writing |¬† Drrunner |

Places to Run – Sloan’s Lake

Sunset July Sloans LakeAs I have gotten more and more followers I’ve noticed a lot of you are from my area: Colorado! Something that I have always wanted to do is provide ideas and places for people to run around in the Denver area, or at least within a quick drive from Denver. Even if you’re not from here, this might be a good resource if you do decide to visit. But don’t worry, I’ll space them out so that you out-of-state-ers don’t get bored. Or it’ll be torture, like the “Rave Run” section in Runner’s World‚Ķmakes me jealous every time I see that section!

The idea is to provide a new route you could try to help spice up your running routine. I have suffered in the past from “running route boredom”, and I think it contributed a lot to when I could get burnt out on running. Changing up your scenery can help keep you motivated and switching up your terrain can help prevent injuries as well! Maybe you’ll even meet some new runners and gain some running buddies!

IMAG0976My first post in this series is close to home – literally. But this is, er was, my regular running route for a really long time. I didn’t used to like going out of my comfort zone very much in the past, in running and other aspects of life, so I would tend to run the same path all the time. I knew the exact distance and I stuck to it! Now, I only run this route about once a week, or once every other week, basically when I’m at my family’s house and need a run, I run here.

But that’s not to say this route is boring. This could be just want you need as a runner from a different neighborhood.

Sloan’s Lake – Denver, CO

  • Located at Sheridan, between 17th and 26th in Denver, CO
  • Type: Concrete and grass/dirt
  • Elevation Change: none
  • Coverage: Lot’s of tree coverage throughout the park

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.19.51 AM

Located about a mile from the big stadium where the Broncos play football, Sloans lake is a pretty park great for an everyday run, believe me, I used to run it everyday. It offers great views of Downtown Denver as well as the Mountains from the other side. It’s one of my favorite places to catch the sunset (or sunrise, if you’re up early enough).

There’s a park with a playground, boaters are allowed in the lake, a sidewalk for walking, running, biking, skateboarding, or just about anything else you want to do, and a dirt/grass path around the whole perimeter. There’s plenty of parking as well!

sunset 1:7

Sloan’s During the winter

Pros:

  • Open all year-long, and during the winter, it doesn’t take long for them to clear the snow.
  • Flat, easy terrain, even the dirt/grass path.
  • Good mileage – easy to get in whatever length of run you need. The outer loop is 3 miles and is a worn grass/dirt path. The inner loop is 2.5, sidewalk/concrete.

Cons:

  • Can get crowded, but only when it’s 100% perfect weather and everyone comes out of their houses. That means if it’s slight too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, too snowy‚Ķ. it’s not crowded.
  • Geese! Oh god, so many geese! Watch your shoes for goose poop!
  • The water is disgusting. I wont even let my dog swim it. I don’t know why people fish there. Pretty sure the fish probably look like the radio-active, three-eyed fish from the Simpsons.

fark_5p3YGUW50Yc5fBY3pu5ugCNNGAMTips:

  • Located not too far from Colfax (a non-safe part of town), don’t go after the sun goes down, especially the ladies.
  • Don’t trust all the dogs: For some reason I’ve run into a lot of dogs on those stupid expandable leashes that have tried to bite me.
  • On the western side of the lake are some excellent places to eat. My favorite is The Edge for brunch and there’s a pretty decent sushi place called Shiso Sushi
  • There is a huge playground for the kids! (Or adults, I swing on the swings all the time!)
  • Some pretty fun events are held here: Chinese Boat Festival, Art Festivals, and plenty of races!

More in formation:

8243252P.S.: One of those fun events is TOMORROW! The Patriot Day 10k and 5k will be there Saturday. Race starts at 8:30am! I’ll be there volunteering all morning! Come run! It’ll be fun! Rhyme intended. More information? Click HERE!.¬†Use code WHITNEYV15 for 15% off!¬†

Missoula Mile – Post Race Recap

I learned a few things this weekend:

1. I don’t like sprinting.

2. I’m not very good at sprinting.

3. I don’t know how to tie my shoes.

However, I am able to cross Montana off my list of states with the Missoula Mile; but man, running sprinting a mile is hard! hahaha!!! Ok, ok, not really; but you get the idea. I’m definitely, definitely a distance runner; NOT a sprinter!

Yep, that’s me – 7 years ago!! Sorry for the horrible picture, but it’s all I have!

I was seriously not meant to be a sprinter. In high school, durning track season, I ran the mile, the 800 meters and the 4 x 400 meters. And my coach always put me either as the first or the last in that relay team. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY! We never won. If I was first, I put us way behind everyone; if I was last, it was pretty much guaranteed we would not win because I was never able to catch up to anyone. Maybe coach just wanted to give our group a few more races to participate in…a pity race! (I got a lot of pity claps at the end of the 4 x 4).

Anyway, I learned that for me, track wasn’t as fun as cross country, but I did enjoy the mile and the 800 back then. However, I’m pretty sure high school was the last time I have ran/timed just a mile….and that was, uh… 7 years ago! ¬†7 years ago was also the last time I saw my cousin whom is the reason I was in Missoula this past weekend. 7 years ago he (with his family of course) came out for my high school graduation.

So here we are 7 years later and I’m celebrating my cousin’s graduation and running a timed mile. And it was miserable. (Not the graduation, that was fine!).

missoula mile

Yep, these cool headbands make me look like a dork!

We woke up early in the morning; earlier than we would have liked because it was the only way we would have a chance to get a ride to Downtown Missoula. We sat in a bagel shop eating breakfast and drinking coffee while we wasted time. As race time got closer, we walked the two blocks to The Runner’s Edge, Missoula’s local running shop. We picked up our packets (20 bucks and no tshirts, but we did get these cool headbands!) and people watched as we waited.

The Running Store

Turns out, the Runner’s Edge sponsors the Missoula Running Club (called Run Wild Missoula) and sunday is long run day. The shop sets up water and cliff shots for the runners as a halfway mark on the run and opens their doors for use of the restrooms/rest. We watched ¬†A LOT of these running club members stop by. At first we were confused by people taking shots of the cliff energy stuff thinking it was a little excessive for a mile race…but we finally figured out what was going on.

First up was the Prep-Mile, allowing the young runners to race, ages 10-18. The future of running!

Next was us: the women’s mile run/walk! Not too many participants…maybe 30 tops. (This was the same with the men’s run too). With the shot of the gun from the Mayor, we were off! We crossed the busy street of Broadway and headed down Higgin’s street to the bridge and back! Pretty flat, but sprinting the whole time. It was a pretty cool morning too, so by the time I was finished my fingers were cold and my chest hurt from rapidly breathing in the cold air. A few women passed me, but I think I finished in the top 10. The girl who won ran in about 5 minutes or so!! Crazy girl!! LOL, but she was a collegiate runner for a local university! Super fast! Super awesome!

I finished in about 7:10, I believe, although the exact time might be off a little. Not too shabby, I think! But still felt horrible…full belly…cold hands…tired legs…and no feeling in my toes!!!

My Mom (the second one)

You’re probably wondering about my ability to tie my shoes, huh? I tied my stupid shoes too tight…yeah, I know, rookie mistake, but I’m thinking, “I better get these suckers tight because I’m going to be sprinting hard core!” Yeah…about that….it’s kinda hard to run when you can’t feel your toes……I bet I was running like a goof. My form had to be awful!

Anyway, my Mom ran too! I got an sweet action shot of her about to finish! After she reached the finish line, we sat on the sidewalk with water in hand and watched the men run followed by the little kids (they were kinda cute watching run…but I still don’t like children…) and then the first responders!

This part of the event was pretty cool. About 20 or so first responders including firefighters, forest rangers, smoke jumpers and EMTs ran the Mile in their full gear! The crowded made sure to give each one a round of applause as they finished. It was a great way to support the people that save our lives everyday…and hey, a few them were kinda cute ; ) but I have a thing for firefighters…shh…don’t tell.

the First Responders racing

The only disappointing part was that we DID NOT get free ice cream. Only the kids did. I was very sad, let me tell you! (If you’re wondering, Big Dipper Ice Cream was a main sponsor for the event).

I did, however, win a raffle prize! I got another new headband!!

Overall, the Missoula Mile is actually a fun little event, especially for the locals of the area. It seemed like everyone knew each other; the announcer even acknowledged some finishers by name. The proceeds went to benefit Prostate Cancer Awareness with some of the local doctors running in the race! The Missoula Mile is a fairly new event, but I can see it growing in the years to come to be something big!

Post Race – over the bridge we ran