Out With the Old: What to Do With Used Fitness Gear

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Yes, there are a bunch of perks to living in an apartment in the city (i.e. being walking distance to Portland’s delicacies). But there’s one major drawback that makes me dread the change of seasons: the closet turnover.

We have all of three (no, that’s not a typo) small closets in our apartment, so now that the weather’s turning I know I’ll be making the trek down to our storage unit to swap sundresses and shorts for sweaters and boots. It’s also a time when I re-evaluate the massive amounts of fitness gear I’ve accumulated over the previous months.

I make it a rule to try to get rid of any items that are worn out, ill-fitting or simply not bringing me joy. But rather than just toss ’em in the trash, there are some great alternatives that allow me to do some good while lightening my load.

Here are some of my favorite ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and put some of that neglected stuff to good use once and for all.

Running Shoes

Reduce: There are a number of organizations that will take used running shoes and distribute them to deserving groups throughout the world. Runner’s World has compiled a fantastic list here, so you can choose who you’d like to support when you donate your shoes to the less fortunate.

Reuse: Just because you’ve retired your kicks from running doesn’t mean they’re destined for the landfill. I cycle old sneakers from running to walking, which doesn’t require as much support, and when they’ve hit their limit on the roads I’ll keep them on hand for yard work.

Recycle: Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program grinds your old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces (existing surfaces made with Nike Grind cover about 632,000,000 square feet!). Check the site for store locations that accept donations.

Workout Clothing

Reduce: Meet up with friends and do a clothing swap instead of buying a new fitness wardrobe every season. Any remaining new or gently used items can be donated to your local Goodwill or Clothes 4 Souls to provide functional clothing to people in need and create jobs in disadvantaged communities.

Reuse: A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of ways to upcycle old workout clothing. All you need is a little time, creativity and direction (check Pinterest or articles like this for inspiration), and you’ll be able to breathe new life into pieces that aren’t worthy of the donation bin.

Recycle: Some major retailers, such as Patagonia (Nike and H&M, as well), offer recycling programs for their entire product line when items finally reach the end of their useful lives and can no longer be repaired. There are also helpful websites that will help point you to your nearest recycling center.

Fitness Equipment

Reduce: Do some good through Sports Gift, a nonprofit that redistributes gear to more than 40,000 underprivileged children worldwide each year. Or go local by donating equipment to a recreation center or community program, such as the YMCA or Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Wanna score some cash instead? Try selling your gear to a secondhand fitness equipment company, such as Play it Again Sports or via Craigslist.

Reuse: If you have a long-forgotten treadmill or elliptical taking up space in your home, contact Fitness 4 Charity, which will connect you with groups who will make good use of it but can’t afford to buy it. You may also want to check in with friends and neighbors to if anyone’s building a home gym and is on the lookout for a particular piece.

Recycle: Past the point of no return? A professional salvager will be take apart your machine, retrieve all the useful metals and sell it to a metal recycler. Google “metal salvage” for a local spot or call 1-800-Got-Junk, a national junk hauling chain which does charge a fee for pickup but also promises to recycle as much as possible

What do you do with your old workout gear? 

Brace Yourself: Title Nine Fit Fest (+ giveaway!)

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If you read my recent piece on the nine things you just shouldn’t wear when working out, you know that one of my pet peeves is unsupportive sports bras. Because the last thing us ladies want to worry about during a workout is painful, sag-inducing bouncing, right?

Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

But who actually enjoys shopping for sports bras?! Most of us are unsure about our size (all the measurements!) and are even more clueless when it comes to how it should fit (strap ’em down or hike ’em up?). And don’t even get me started on the process of trying them on; it takes a Cirque-du-Soleil level of contortionism to wrestle into some of the styles out there.

If you’re anything like me, you emerge a hot, sweaty mess from the dressing room with nothing more than a deflated ego to show for all that effort. So you make an educated guess, hope for the best, shell out some cash and then get the hell out of there with something — anything.

Sound familiar? 

Well, it turns out that bra experts at Title Nine feel our pain — literally — and are making it easier (and more fun) to find the correct sports bra by hosting local “FitFest” events to help every athlete find her perfect fit and get on the road to a more comfortable workout.

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As we all know (or should know), the most important foundation for any workout is a bra designed specifically for each of our unique body types, sizes and activities. Title Nine’s FitFest aims to help ladies address all those pain points — and more — by featuring:

  • Personalized bra fitting advice from a “bravangelist” expert
  • An expanded assortment of bras for every size and shape
  • Bras for different activities: sports, work-to-workout, everyday and date night
  • A “Bounce-ath-a-lon” for people to put bras to the test, with stations like hula hooping, jump roping, running and burpees
  • Snacks and drinks (because, duh, pretty much anything is more fun with a glass of vino in hand)

So when the invitation for Portland’s FitFest landed in my inbox, I knew we were in store for an interesting evening of bonding over…boobs! I’ve never been professionally fit before, and with all the different workouts I do, I figured my Bravengelist would have her work cut out for her.

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Jamie, Tasha, Liz and I met up for happy hour, and then we made our way over to the event to check things out. After mingling with some of Portland’s fittest ladies (bloggers and industry folks), the Bravangelists met with us one-by-one to get down to business.

First, they took personalized measurements and asked a few questions about our preferences, lifestyle and favorite activities. Next, they combed the racks for styles that would be a good match.

My Bravangelist, Jamie, pulled several bras that would be good for high-impact workouts, as well as a wide range of cross-training activities. Basically, I told her I needed the girls to be able to take whatever I throw at ’em, so she went straight for the heavy artillery styles with all kinds of snaps, straps and adjustable pieces.

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As I tried on each style, Jamie came in to check the fit and how well it performed with a variety of bounce tests. Mostly this consisted of me jumping up and down to test the support of each bra.

Normally I grab a cute one, guesstimate my size and try it on to make sure it fits ok, but after going through the FitFest, I see now why it’s so important to try a range of styles at once. Not only does it give you more variety from which to choose, but when you try them on in succession, you also have a much better idea how they perform in comparison to one another.

Also — I’m not a fan of mirror selfies…but in the interest of #keepingitreal,  I’m including one shot of the bra I ended up choosing.

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I picked Moving Comfort’s She Be Fierce Bra in Celery Stripe ($44), which delivers all the features us less-endowed ladies demand without feeling overbuilt, overpadded and overdone. It’s easy on/off, there’s separate encapsulation inside to avoid the dreaded “uniboob,” plus the material’s supposed to dry crazy-fast after the sweatiest of workouts.

And I just love the name, which happens to be based on Shakespeare’s line, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” Whether he was talking about this bra or the wearers, I’d like to think he was right.

But the best part of the evening? 

Well, if boobs are funny, then boob balloons are funnier. And apparently we’re all 30-something-going-on-13 because we really got a kick out of these things.

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Interested in attending a FitFest in a city near you? Visit TitleNine.com for a full list of participating locations and details.

Or, better yet, CLICK HERE TO ENTER my giveaway for a FREE PERSONALIZED FITTING (either in-store or by-phone, depending on location) and ONE SPORTS BRA! 

Note: Winners within driving distance of a Title Nine store will be asked to redeem their prize at the closest/preferred retail location.

Good luck, and remember to give your girls some support!

5 Surprising Myths About Running Socks

Source: Runner's World

Source: Runner’s World

Too often we’re seduced by the lower price of a product that invariably costs more over the long haul. – Bill Howard

What is the single most important piece of equipment for runners? If you said shoes, you’re close – and like many of your fellow pavement pounders, you’ve probably invested a good deal of time and money in finding the perfect pair.

But as the only source of protection between your feet and a potentially run-crippling blister, socks can mean the difference between a triumphant or a terrible outing, even in the highest-quality footwear.

I wrote a while back about some of the best socks for runners, but with a mind-boggling number of options available, how do you pick the pair that’s best for you?

Gus Blythe, founder of Drymax Sport Socks, was kind enough to weigh in on a few of the common myths about sport socks; he’s made it a mission to keep athletes’ feet happy and give them one less thing to worry about when training and racing.

So…let’s talk socks, people!

Myth #1: What you see is what you get

Contrary to what most of us probably think, socks are not to be used exclusively as decorative ornaments or as a way of helping to compensate for the imperfections inside of shoes; rather, they are standalone pieces of equipment and should be evaluated as such.

Simply put, pretty socks may be easy on the eyes but could very well be hard on the feet. It’s important to remember that feet are blind when shopping, says Blythe. After all, how much will you care about the color or logo on your socks mid-race?

Myth #2: Soft in your hands means good to your feet

When I’m sock shopping “soft” is one of the top criteria on my list – but what feels heavenly at first touch doesn’t necessarily indicate high quality, so dive deeper and look at what the sock is made of to be sure you’re not being sold smoke and mirrors.

“Many manufacturers use a fabric softener so their socks feel soft on the shelf to your hands,” says Blythe. These socks will work better after they are washed once, but may feel different afterwards, as opposed to brands such as Drymax, which Blythe says are softener-free and race-ready out of the package.

Myth #3: One style fits all

Unfortunately, just as there is no hard and fast formula for choosing the ideal running shoe (I’ve shifted loyalty among several different brands since taking up the sport nearly two decades ago), choosing a type of sock tends to be part art, part science — so prepare to experiment a bit in order to find a good fit.

For example, if you wear orthotics or insoles, you’ll probably need to look for a thinner sock with more protection in potential trouble spots, whereas a runner with narrow feet might want a bulkier sock to keep feet from shifting in shoes.

But regardless of your situation, remember that every foot is different, and what works for one person may not work for the next, so take into account these personal preferences when shopping.

Myth #4: Price is an indicator of quality

When buying socks, it’s better to think in terms of value instead of price. And even though we’ve been trained as shoppers to equate high price with high quality, it’s more important to consider the fabric and features versus getting caught up in the marketing magic.

Fewer bells and whistles might work for a quick workout or light cross-training, but do your homework if you’re looking for socks that will last for the long haul. Alas, there are no shortcuts, and what you skimp on at the register your feet could end up paying for in the end.

“If you think you can find the best sock by looking at price or by the best-known brand, you’re wrong,” says Blythe. “It’s foolish to pay too much for a sock, but it’s worse to pay too little.”

Myth #5: You’re not a real athlete if you don’t get blisters

In the past, we’d applaud runners who were able to forge on despite having horrible blisters. But thanks today’s new sock fabrics and technologies, athletes can continue to push their limits more comfortably — racing smarter, not just harder.

That means taking proper precautions to prevent blisters in the first place, which requires feet to be kept as dry as possible. And while many socks provide adequate protection for a few miles, the addition of sweat and repetitive movements over many miles, plus shifting up and down hills, makes blister prevention an increasingly difficult task for non-specialized socks, says Blythe.

“Choose your socks wisely,” he cautions. “Your feet depend on it.”

How do you keep your feet comfy for the long haul (and those long runs)?

The Case for Yoga Pants (+ prAna Discount Code!)

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Throughout my high school and college running days, “workout gear” meant — quite literally — anything hanging on by its last thread: extra-large cotton t-shirts, stretched-out tube socks and over-sized shorts with elastic waists, for example. You get picture.

But my attitude changed in 2002 when I bought my first “splurge” item — a Brooks long-sleeved tech shirt — at the Chicago Marathon expo. In a classic rookie move, I wore it for the first time to run 26.2 the next day…but miraculously it performed beautifully in all of its sweat-wicking, non-chafing glory.

That experience forever changed my view of workout gear: No longer were my tops and bottoms merely “something to sweat in;” they became part of my training arsenal — not only to keep me comfortable and to help me perform, but also (occasionally) to be a major motivating factor in getting my butt up and out the door for workouts.

Because, let’s face it, when we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, we can take on the world. Or at least a 6 a.m. spin class.

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Case in point: When prAna and Fit Approach partnered up last month for the #TakeTheLeap challenge in which we were encouraged to #BringYogaBack for 30 days.

I knew it was going to take a lot more than old fashioned willpower to get myself on the mat throughout the month. Don’t get me wrong — I love yoga — it’s just a challenge being present and working quietly when your default is hard-charging, goal-oriented workouts.

But when prAna sweetened the deal by throwing in an outfit from their new Early Spring collection, I knew we were speaking the same language. If you build it, they will come; it you make it cute (and comfy), they will om.  

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First on my wish list was the Florence Capri in Neon Orange ($79). Because neon orange.

If the color’s not enough to get your heart pitter-pattering, the design will have you swooning. From the flattering wide waistband to the compression Chakara performance fabric to the smooth seams, these pants fit like a second skin — without being overly constrictive.

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And then there’s the Piper Top in Cool Green ($69). I stepped slightly out of my wheelhouse with this one; I’m not usually partial to blousy tops, but sometimes you just need a nice, relaxed drape to skim, rather than squeeze, your stomach.

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Another lovely detail is the drawcord hem; loosen it up for longer coverage, or cinch it up to shorten the length and for added security — aka if you’re not into baring that belly during inversions.

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But my favorite feature that made this pick a no-brainer? The straps!

They’re adjustable, and I’m not just talking about the bra-type sliders. Nope, these babies can be converted from traditional shoulder straps to an X-back for both support and style purposes.

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Mindfully designed. Built to last. And best of all? Available at a discount, just in time to brighten up your wardrobe for spring! Use KineticFix’s special code (psps15KF) at checkout for 15% off your entire order.

Happy shopping — and sweating, friends!

Fave Fix: BioSkin Calf Skin Sleeves (+ giveaway!)

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During a particularly mucky morning workout recently (#BecausePortland), I bit it while running up some slick stone stairs and slammed my right shin directly into the corner of a step. It was one of those moments where your heart stops, your stomach drops, and a split second before the pain hits you try to do a full-body scan to assess the situation.

Fortunately, it was nothing too serious (aside from ego damage). It’s taken a few weeks, but the nasty bruise has finally subsided.

Unfortunately, though, this incident coincided with me needing wanting to ramp up my mileage base to get ready for the upcoming race season. And although a goose-egg lump and lingering tenderness certainly didn’t pose a huge threat, I figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to test a new pair of Calf Skin Sleeves that BioSkin sent me to check out.

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BioSkin designs and manufactures compression supports, orthopedic braces, and human performance gear for the orthopedic, sports medicine, and recreational sports markets worldwide. They’re an Oregon-based (Ashland) company, and I love their mentality — i.e. they chose the location not because it’s the easiest place to run a manufacturing business, but because it’s such a great place to live.

It’s this kind of attitude — quality over quantity — that usually carries over into great products. Especially because they also believe in focusing on the little details, which can make a big difference when you’re talking about products that people wear on a daily basis.

So, why compression? Well, it not only cuts down on muscle vibration, but also helps ensure that your muscles are in the proper position to maximize force production without wasted energy. Decreased muscle fatigue and improved proprioception also protect you from injury by giving you more precise control of your body.

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My first thought, out of the box, was that these aren’t your average compression sleeves. I wear a good amount of compression gear, but I’ve never run across anything quite like this; BioSkin uses a special material (non-neoprene and non-latex) that not only allows your legs to breathe, but also keeps it from sliding down your leg during vigorous activity.

They feel less like a sock and more like a super-thin wet suit. Getting them on can be a workout in and of itself — these suckers are tight! — but throwing on a thin sock makes it easier to shimmy them on over your heel and onto your leg.

The feel does take some getting used to at first; like I said, they’re designed to fit snugly. But I’ve been actively seeking a higher level of compression for my legs since my tibia injury last fall, especially because I envision it being a free mini-massage with every step.

And as much as I like them for workouts, I l-o-v-e them for recovery days. Whether it’s an easy session of running or biking, or just an off day, I’ll throw them on and feel noticeably less discomfort and soreness. BioSkin for the win!

Speaking of winning (I know; horrible segue) BioSkin’s been kind enough to provide me with a $20 gift card for one lucky reader. Enter here via a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Are you a fan of compression wear? When do you wear compression sleeves/socks? 

Dressing Up in the Hottest Activewear From Down Under

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As you can imagine, working for a fitness start-up certainly has its perks. Sure, taking meetings over yoga mats and counting spandex as “business” attire is great, but what really gets our blood pumping is partnering with some pretty spectacular brands — and getting to give people a heads up about stuff we absolutely love.

Case in point: Lorna Jane, which I was introduced to while living in San Francisco. At first, I questioned whether Australia’s leading women’s sports label could compete with the likes of Lululemon and Athleta, even in a city that’s synonymous with yoga pants.

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But we really identified with the brand’s positive message and Move Nourish Believe philosophy — not to mention their clothing is the kind that’ll get you stopped in the street by people who want to know where they can get it. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a shocker that that brand took SF by storm; if it was cute, colorful and functional, you could bet it came from Lorna Jane.

So when I heard they were bringing a store to the Portland area and that they were giving our team at Fit Approach (SweatGuru’s sister company) an opportunity to go in for a personal styling session to try on the new fall line, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to contain myself. But the grand opening day finally came, and at last week’s party I met with a stylist who asked me about my typical activities and clothing preferences before pulling several looks to try.

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First up was this green tank with a black sports brand and leggings. Normally I don’t like workout wear that’s super fussy or has a lot of details, but the strappy back totally converted me (see bottom left in the first picture above); it was as interesting to look at as it was comfortable. Sold!

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Next up was a robin-egg blue sports bra with animal print capris and a bright pink hoodie. I had seen these pants online and was dying to try ’em on in person to see if they lived up to the hype. From the funky snakeskin-type print to the abstract lines, yep — another winner.

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Third was a cute cut-out sports bra and track jacket with some not-so-basic black capris. And, clearly, I have no clue what to do in front of the camera.

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After that, the stylist wanted to switch things up a bit with a pair of harem pants and a hooded vest. The mix of colors and prints was really fun, and I was pleasantly surprised with the pants; I’m not typically a harem pant kinda gal, but these had built-in bike shorts for support, which was brilliant!

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Finally, though, came my favorite outfit of the evening — a neon yellow sports bra and cobalt top with abstract printed tights. As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with a special sports bra, a vivid top and crazy pants.

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In the end, I went with the last outfit and ended up buying some pieces from others — the green top, black sports bra and animal print capris — which I’ll probably piece together as a separate outfit. But, as you can see, it’s easy to get carried away in there!

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Another highlight of the evening was getting to hang out with half of the Team LUNA Chix PDX Run Team (from left: Carolyn, Megan, Tiffany, Kristin, me), who came out to support our teammate Tiffany, who works at Lorna Jane. We may run together, but from the looks of this picture we consider shopping a sport, as well 🙂

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A big thank you to the team at Lorna Jane for setting this up. While I did receive some clothes, all opinions are my own.  I would never promote a brand that I didn’t love. 

Fave Fix: PrAna Early Winter Collection (& discount code!)

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Whether it’s comfort, performance or style, workout clothing should have a clear purpose.  In my case, obnoxiously-bright gear just so happens to get me motivated to work out, even when it’s cold, wet and otherwise crappy outside (and, as I found out last week, it also gets me called out at the gym as a “Californian,” but I digress…).

You know what’s odd, though? Despite all the tanks, tops, sports bras and capris I’ve amassed over the years, I had yet to try anything from prAna. I’ve got a few friends who swear by the brand, and I know they sponsor the lovely LUNA Chix Pro Team, the most successful, longest-running team in the history of professional MTB and XTERRA racing, but that was the extent of my knowledge of them.

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So I considered it kismet when prAna partnered up with Fit Approach to help get the word out about the new Early Winter Collection. Getting to check out an organization with a mission of being socially mindful, environmentally sustainable and that offers gear that not only withstands the rigors of the outdoors but also the demands of world-class athletes? Well, that’s a no brainer.

As it turns out, the 22-year-old company was started by Beaver Theodosakis and his wife Pam in their garage in Carlsbad, Calif. and continues their commitment to sustainability, community and right action to this day. Their purposeful garments are designed for freedom of movement with hidden technical features — and what started as a cult favorite within the yoga and climbing communities has extended to people who share a love of the outdoors and related lifestyles.

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Knowing that I’d soon be facing a dreary Portland winter, I decided to test out the Drea Jacket ($99) and Prism Capri Legging ($70) for keeping my core warm and spirits high, respectively. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll continue the SF trend of wearing workout gear around town and sport these puppies both in the gym and out and about for errands.

Yes, the Drea is another fleece hoodie; we’ve all got a few rotating in and out of our wardrobe. But what makes this one so special is that its made from a moisture-wicking stretch performance fleece, so you can throw it on after spin class or an hour of yoga without worrying about getting overheated or pitting it out at brunch. Ribbing at the side body and hood give it a more fitted shape, and built-in cuff hand warmers help keep fingers toasty.

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And the capris, well, they’re quickly becoming my go-to when I’m looking to spice up my outfit with bottoms that are durable, flattering and (most importantly) fun. The “stylized stitching” is supposed to add sporty flair, but I found it quite functional — strategic placement under the knee on both front and back conveniently help keep the pants from riding up.

Mindfully designed. Built to last. And best of all? Available at a discount, just in time for holiday shopping! Use KineticFix’s special code (pspf14kf) at checkout for 15% off your entire order.

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Happy shopping…and sweating, friends 🙂

Fave Fix: FlipBelt running belt

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Running is a constant game of trial and error. Sometimes you strike gold with a shoe that complements your stride or a gel that sits well on a sensitive tummy. Other times you strike out, be it a chafe-y short, a hat that overheats…or that time I tried to outsmart myself during a half marathon and store two gels in my sports bra (long story short, it ended very badly for both ‘girls’).

So I’m always on the lookout for gear that allows me to take any element of chance out of runs, particularly the long ones where there’s A) a higher risk of something going awry, and B) decent odds that I’ll be a good distance from home when it happens. And bonus points if it allows me to go hands-free, because we all know that the amount of “stuff” you have to carry is directly proportional to your mileage — meaning, mo’ miles, mo’ problems juggling my keys, phone, headphones, gels, water, etc.

Enter FlipBelt, which is one of those so-simple-it’s-brilliant products — literally, it’s a tubular fabric waistband in which you can tuck all your must-have items while exercising (click here to see it in action). And to keep everything even more secure, all you have to do is flip the belt inward, effectively “locking” the openings against your body so nothing pops out.

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Easy-peasy. But does it work?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had notoriously bad experiences with products that sit around my hips while running. Be it my mechanics, anatomy or just personal preference, I get super annoyed when anything slips, bounces or is at all noticeable (again, like that time I tried a hip hydration pack and ended up having to strap it — mid-run — around the lower half of my butt to keep it from jostling around = #RunningFail).

The shot above is of me in the FlipBelt with six gels in it, plus my keys (there’s even a handy little lanyard key clip if you’re especially OCD about losing them, like I am). I took it for a few test runs during some of my recent treadmill workouts, so it got put through the paces thoroughly at both a walk and a jog.

My verdict? It didn’t budge, bounce or otherwise both me. Success!

The only con I can see is that it isn’t waterproof, but that’s probably so you don’t end up with a big, hot ring of sweat around your waist. And if you want to store your phone in the FlipBelt and keep it from getting wet, there’s an easy fix: just slip it in a waterproof Ziploc bag, and you’re good to go. When you’re using it to play music, however, or want to access it more often, like I do, then you may want to opt for an armband for regular access.

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Not only is it easy-care (the fabric is machine washable), but it’s also so easy-wear that I’m even considering breaking my “nothing new on race day” rule and using it in my upcoming marathon to tote all the essentials — nutrition, phone and keys — for 26.2 miles.

For more information or to order one of your own, visit FlipBelt.com.

This post was sponsored by FlipBelt through their partnership with Fit Approach. I was not compensated monetarily, but was provided a FLipBelt for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Fave Fix: Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boot

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Having left behind the epic trail scenery of San Francisco and Marin, it’s about time we checked out what Oregon has to offer on those just-gotta-get-out-of-the-city days. And after living on both coasts, plus a few cities in between, I’d say there’s hardly a better place to be in summer than the Pacific Northwest, especially if you’re into hiking…and, oh, waterfalls.

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So a few weekends ago when we had some friends in town from the Bay Area, we decided to whet our appetites for adventure by paying a visit to Oregon’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls. It’s home to one of Oregon’s most popular trails — a moderate, 2.2-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain to the top of the 542-foot, “two-tiered plume that plummets into a misty, mossy forest grotto.”

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Not only was it a great way to work off the Blue Star doughnuts we inhaled for breakfast that morning, but it was also a good opportunity for me to test out my new pair of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boots. This style came highly recommended by Melissa, a friend and former colleague who now works for the company, in anticipation of me taking to the beautiful, bountiful trails of Oregon.

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Aside from getting a few compliments from fellow hikers on my way up the switchbacks — this style is known for its bright color, yet low profile — I was more interested in the function rather than the fashion of these shoes. But true to Ahnu form they performed beautifully, giving me just the right amount of traction, support, stability, shock absorption and protection…in what felt as comfy as my favorite pair of sneakers.

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Did I mention they’re waterproof, too? I’ve been hearing that kind of gear will come in handy for the season that follows summer up here: Rain.

This isn’t a sponsored post; just helping a friend get the word out about a great company with good products. For more information on Ahnu, visit the site here

5 things I love about the Runtastic Orbit activity tracker

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Earlier this month, I mentioned that my friends at Fit Approach asked if I’d like to check out the new Runtastic Orbit. While I had yet to jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon — because, hey, I’m fairly active as-is and already track my weekly mileage — I thought it’d be fun to experiment with a different way of quantifying my weekly activity.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t expecting much more than a glorified pedometer. But after a few weeks of testing this puppy, I’m officially converted!

Rather than ramble off a full list of features and benefits (for all that info, visit the site), however, I want to address exactly WHY I’m digging the Orbit so much. Here are five reasons why it’s become my latest training buddy:

1. It’s user-friendly

Although I work in tech PR, I can be surprisingly un-techy at times. But the Orbit was easy to set up and simple to use. Just charge it, download the accompanying Runtastic Me mobile app, press the navigation button, and you’re good to go. Who wants to read through a complicated owner’s manual when the goal is to just get moving?

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2. It’s cordless

Charging aside, that is — and even then the battery life is about five days. But when it comes to syncing, there’s no need for pesky USBs, which makes it much easier to use on the fly. All I do is open the app and have my Orbit nearby, then all the information transfers quickly and seamlessly from the device to the app dashboard for me to access (and pore over…see no. 5).

3. It’s durable 

While it’s not (yet) tracking activities such as swimming and biking, the Orbit is waterproof up to 300 feet. To put that in perspective: Most other wearables on the market can barely handle a shower. It’s nice to know I can go about my day, whether I’m at the pool or doing dishes, and not have to think about removing it.

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4. It reminds me to move

What good is tracking all of this activity (or lackthereof) if you aren’t able to act on it and establish better habits? I do a lot of computer work (i.e. sit on my butt for hours at a time), but I can set the Orbit to vibrate when I’m idle for more than an hour, which is a great reminder to keep me from sitting in one spot for too long.

5. It helps me sleep

Well, not literally — as great as it is, the Orbit can’t sing me a lullaby or rock me into REM — but having the ability to view sleep length and quality has gotten me into the habit of trying to hit the sack a bit earlier. Yes, having a competitive streak can also come in handy when it comes to getting in good slumber time.

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Courtesy of tomsguide.com

And coming soon, Runtastic promises to add some handy Orbit features, such as mood tracking and ambient light measurement to give you reminders when it’s time to reapply sunscreen. It’ll be a great feeling to know that your wearable’s not only got your back, but will also keep it from getting burned!

For more information, visit the website here.

I was provided a Runtastic Orbit device for review. All opinions are my own.