Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘running’

Get Started with Athlinks in 5 Easy Steps

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review or find race reviews.

If you’ve ever participated in a running event, then you know the pain of searching for your results after the race.  Sometimes the results are posted on the event’s actual website, sometimes there’s a link to the timing company’s website, or sometimes you may even have to look on the race event’s Facebook page. This can sometimes be a tedious and frustrating process, but that’s where Athlinks comes in!  It’s a super handy tool that has all of your race results in one convenient location! Here’s how to get started:

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  • Create your account – You will first need to set up your Athlinks account. It’s super easy and it’s FREE!  You can do this via desktop or even better, you can download the APP! You will just need to enter a few personal details and a profile pic and off you go!

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  • Claim your results – Here’s the fun part!  Enter your name in the search bar and watch all of your past race results pop up!  If you have a common name, you can filter by location but it’s still an easy process.  Simply find your races and click on the blue “Claim” button.  Note: The claiming process isn’t always instant.  Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the results to show up on your profile, but you will receive an email once it’s added.

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  • Follow your friends – Start following all of your running friends so you can follow their races and results.  You can also search for “Rivals”.  These are people who have run the same race as you.  You basically have a friendly competition with them since it will show which one of you finished the race first.  I think this is a cool aspect to ignite motivation between runners, although I’m not a huge fan of the word “Rivals” for some reason.

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  • Add your upcoming races – With Athlinks, you can search upcoming races in your area and add them to your profile.  This way, all your friends can see your race calendar and who knows…you may inspire someone to run a race with you!

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  • Check out your stats! – Once you’re all set up, you can look at all of your stats and see how you compare to others.  You’ll also have all of your PR’s in one convenient location!

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Athlinks is a great tool to streamline all of your race results and keep track of your running stats.  What do you think? Are you one of the 1 Million users of Athlinks?!

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Happy claiming!

~SM

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Why I’m Sticking With KT Tape

“Disclaimer: I received five types of KT Tape 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!”

This month, I got the chance to try out KT Tape and it could not have come at a better time! My sample box came with 5 different types of KT Tape: Cotton, Pro, Gentle, Extreme, and Wide.

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Last summer, I rolled my ankle while training for the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon and THEN I rolled it again on the 4th mile of the actual race and kept on going (which maybe wasn’t the best decision)…so ever since then, things haven’t been quite the same with my left foot. I did go to an Urgent Care the day after the race and nothing was fractured.  After RICE’ing it for a while, I wore a compression wrap for a bit, but it got kind of bulky and annoying so I pretty much gave it up.  A couple of people recommended KT Tape to me over the last few months, but honestly, I was a bit skeptical of it.  I didn’t understand how “tape” could help me.

So what exactly is KT Tape and how does it work?

Per kttape.com:

“KT Tape is an elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments.”

“When an area of the body is injured through impact or over-use, the lymphatic fluid builds up causing inflammation and swelling. This accumulation of lymphatic fluids may cause increased pressure on muscles and tissue which can cause significant discomfort or pain.
It is believed that when applied correctly, KT Tape lifts the skin, decompressing the layers of fascia, allowing for greater movement of lymphatic fluid which transports white blood cells throughout the body and removes waste products, cellular debris, and bacteria.”

In other words, KT Tape does some fancy science-y stuff in your body to relieve discomfort. 😉  Also, Olympians use it so it must be pretty rad, right?? Well let’s see!

Since I am new to any type of taping of anything, the first thing I did was watch 47 YouTube videos on taping techniques.  Okay, maybe not 47, but it was quite a few.  I also read through all of the tips and tricks on the KT Tape website.  They have some great instructional photos and videos on there!

When I first started taping, I had no clue what I was doing and made a few mistakes. I started out with the basic Cotton KT Tape…

As you can see,  I didn’t properly apply the tape…which meant it didn’t last very long.  I’ll list my tips for success a little later on.  Then I tried a bit of a different technique with the Pro tape…

This ended up lasting longer and I felt like it was a more beneficial taping sesh. And in case you’re wondering what the big differences between the Cotton and Pro are:

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Then I tried out the Gentle tape…

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Surprisingly, I actually really liked the gentle tape.  I don’t really have any skin issues, but I thought it was flexible and supportive and I could remove it with no pain or skin-pulling.  Then I went on to try the Extreme

The Extreme is a bit thicker and supposed to last longer, so I really liked the idea of using it for my feet since it’s a sweaty and flexible area.  Then something life-changing happened! I got on #BibChat (It’s like a Twitter party/Educational session for runners every Tuesday) and I discovered that you can mix up the tapes! Whaaaattttt?  I can wear three different tapes at once?  Did I mention that I’m really new to taping??  Anywho…so I decided to put the Extreme under my foot, then use the Pro on top and then wrapped the Cotton next to that one (where I didn’t need as much support)…

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Since I’m not sure what my ailment is exactly…I sort of combined the wrapping techniques from both the ankle stability taping instructions and plantar fasciitis instructions.  I have pain in my arch (first thing in the morning and then while running) and since I rolled my ankle, I like having extra ankle stability.  After messing around with some more taping, I finally figured out a good wrapping method that’s been working for the last week!

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And now, after a few weeks of taping, I’m feeling more confident in my methods!  And what about the pain?  Well, it hasn’t completely gone away and I’m not sure that it ever will…but it has decreased during and after my runs.  I think I would need to use it consistently for a few more weeks to see a bigger difference.

How ’bout the Wide tape though?  I tried out the wide tape on my hamstring because I do get pain/soreness there sometimes.  I definitely need more practice with the Wide, it was a little tricky to apply since it’s so big.  Also, removing it was pretty painful (like a lot painful).  So next time, I plan to try the Gentle on my hamstring since it’s a sensitive area and use the Wide on my lower back because I have issues there as well.

So here are my tips for beginners!

  • If you have severe/chronic pain, see a doctor (common sense, y’all)
  • Clean the area first
  • Apply 1 hour before your activity
  • Don’t pull too hard on your anchor points or else it will create an “accordion” effect and basically the strip is ruined.
  • Don’t pull too tight on the middle part.  The KT Tape website recommends about a 50% pull for many of the methods – just don’t pull 100% – you still want flexibility and blood flow!
  • Putting on too much tape is not going to help you.  Again, you want flexibility.
  • Rub the tape after you apply it because it’s heat activated.  This is a really important step to get the most out of your application!
  • There really isn’t a wrong way to apply KT Tape.  I highly suggest watching the videos and reading the instructions…but you can also test out different methods to see what works best for you!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my KT Tape experience and I will continue to use it in the future! Here’s what I liked most about it:

  • Pre-cut Strips– The strips are already cut and easy to pull off.  The backing is super easy to pull off too, with no sticky residue.
  • Bright Colors – They are available is super fun colors!
  • Flexibility – I like the support and flexibility they provide without being too bulky, like a traditional brace.
  • Confidence – Something about wearing the KT Tape makes you feel a little bit more hardcore.  KT Tape lets people around you know that a little pain isn’t going to stop you from reaching your goals!  Also, Olympians use it, remember??  You are using something the best of the best use!  How cool is that?
  • Containers – With the exception of the Cotton and Gentle tapes, they come in reusable containers!  So when you are done, you can save them for tiny things around the house, small toys, etc…it’s especially great for travel!

What I didn’t like:

The only issue I had was that I couldn’t get my strips to last 4-7 days.  Mine lasted about 1-2 days. I’m still new to taping so it could be that I haven’t gotten the technique down quite yet.  Or it could be that my injury is in a spot that gets wet, oily, sweaty…that it’s not meant to last very long on my foot.  But if YOU know of a way to make it last longer, please let me know!!!!

Are you curious about KT Tape?  Pricing ranges from $9.99 to $45.99 depending on which product you are after.   The Pro, which was my favorite, runs for $19.99.  And as a bonus, you can score 30% off your order with code, “BIBRAVE30”!  So if you’re interested, now is a great time to try it out!

Go ahead, add a little Joy to your life! 🙂 🙂

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Have you used KT Tape before?  What did you think??

~SM

5 Reasons to Get Excited About the San Jose 408k!

*Disclaimer: I received a free remote runner entry to the San Jose 408k 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!”

I may have left California, but California has not left me!  So I’m super excited to have the opportunity to run the San Jose 408k as a remote runner!  In my previous blog post, I mentioned how I’ve missed running races so it will be fun to feel like I’m running the 408 even if I am in another country!

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So whether you live in San Jose, Asia, or somewhere in between – you can also get excited about this race and here are 5 reasons why!

5.  The Location! – After your run through beautiful San Jose you will finish at Santana Row, which is an upscale shopping/dining/living development and it’s the ONLY event that finishes here!

4. Special Course Miles! – Running the 408k gives you the opportunity to run both the Memorial Mile and the Mariachi Mile.  The Memorial Mile is a chance for runners to show their respect to local military as well as an opportunity for veterans to cheer on the runners. The Mariachi Mile will feature several mariachi bands playing along the last mile of the course. How fun is that?!

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run408k.com

 

3.  Extra SWAG! – Run the 408k (in person or remotely) along with any of the race distances from the Silicon Valley Half event and you will score some extra BLING!  It will be a great addition to your medal rack!

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2.  Pat Tillman Foundation – This year’s Official Benefitting Charity is the Pat Tillman Foundation.  Fundraising and donations to Pat Tillman Foundation will be invested in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships.  This is a great charity and there are even fundraising levels.

1. Remote Runner – And my fave thing about this race?  Well, I think it’s pretty obvious…but I’m excited that I can run this 8k on my own and still score some swag! What does it mean to be a remote runner? It means I can run at home and I will receive a bib, official race shirt, and medal in the mail! No traffic, no crowded expo lines! Super easy and convenient!

And if you aren’t excited yet, use code “BIBRAVE” save $10 on your race entry or remote runner entry! 

And of course, if you aren’t up to running an 8k (4.97 miles) you can always head over to cheer on the runners  (we love spectators!) or be a race volunteer!

This is sure to be a great event for all so be sure to register today before online registration closes! And let me know if you register as a remote runner so we can run “together”. 😉

~SM

How I Fell in Love with Running Again

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It’s been six months since I traded in beaches and burritos for high-rises and ramen.  And during that time, my relationship with running has a been a bit rocky.  I really loved running in San Diego – the scenery is beautiful, the weather is always perfect, and there are races every weekend – it’s a runner’s dream! And of course,  I can’t forget my running club and BRF (Best Running Friend) – @TheHungryRunner_

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So leaving all that behind and moving to a new country with narrow sidewalks (or zero sidewalks at times) and actual unfavorable weather sort of derailed my running momentum.  It was also a bit depressing not having my running friends and weekly races to look forward to.  Because of the move and the transition, my running became inconsistent and I sort of felt “lost” with my running.  What am I training for?  Why I am I running? What am I even doing?! I definitely began falling into a running rut. 😦

Another challenge was finding quality places to run close to my house.  Basically I have three choices: a track, a treadmill at the family gym, or a running path with a decent view of Mt. Fuji on clear days. Kind of an adjustment from the assortment of beaches and trails I had to choose from in SoCal.

After a few weeks, I basically lost my running motivation and began just running minimal miles each week. I stopped focusing on running so much and started embracing the Japan life.

Then I missed the idea of having running goals and began running a little bit more.  I started taking advantage of the track (speed work anyone?) and started aiming to run a little more (or a little faster) each week. In December, I did the WeavRun streak challenge and successfully ran for 30 days straight.  The streak really helped motivate me to challenge myself and work on cadence. I even started to incorporate more strength work and found out that I love kettlebell swings, box jumping, and ball slamming!

Then after New Years I took two whole weeks off!  No running, no gym, no counting miles, reps, or calories.  I just took time to relax without worrying about not getting in a run or workout session each day.  I literally stopped to smell the roses! 😉

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I took the time to not only reset physically, but also mentally and spiritually.  I decided to write out some goals for the month, the year, and next few years.

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After my little running sabbatical, something magical happened… IT SNOWED! And I HAD to run in this winter wonderland since I knew it would only last a day.  I ran slow so I wouldn’t fall, but it was super refreshing and peaceful!

Then I started building up my weekly mileage again and found out that the track isn’t so bad. You can zone out and not worry about traffic, work on your speed, and its super soft and much better on your joints than road running. 🙂

I’ve even discovered some beautiful running paths in the nearby parks.  The forests in Japan are green and super dense, which makes for some peaceful and reflective running.

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What I discovered through this transition was that I don’t NEED super lofty race goals or shiny medals (although those are nice) to enjoy running.  The break reminded me why I started running in the first place.  Because I LOVE it!  Sometimes preparing for races can get stressful, so I realized that I actually needed a break from all the bling chasing.  It finally dawned on me that I don’t HAVE to run…I GET to run!!  Last week, I went out on a run with no pace/distance goal at all.  I just slowed down, took in my surroundings, and enjoyed the run! I fell back in love with running by letting the run lead me instead me leading the run.

So what’s next??  Well the SWAG is not lost, y’all!  I’m still an ambassador for Bibrave and this year I will be an ambassador for Sweat Pink too!

Okay, back to the races.  Races aren’t really that prevalent in my area, but I’ve kind of enjoyed having my weekend mornings open to new possibilities.  However, I do have my eye on a couple of local races coming up…so stay tuned!  Also, I’m excited to announce that I will be participating in some Virtual Races this year too! So I will be reviewing those as well!

I’m also working on possibly starting up a mom’s running group in my community because I’ve had a few new moms ask me about where to start with running. And I would love to share the running LOVE!

I’m really glad that I have found my love for running again and I can’t wait to share my excitement and motivation with everyone else this year!

IMG_8332“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” ~Julie Isphording

And P.S. – I still miss my BRF! 😉

I’m off to chase some goals! 🙂

~SM

Feel the Music with Weav Run!

*Disclaimer: The Weav Run app is currently free, but I will be receiving a lifetime subscription in January 2018 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!

Last month I was informed about a new running app called Weav Run.  I was a little hesitant to try it because I’m not super techy and sometimes technology in general can be frustrating.  But, I decided to go ahead and give it a try because YOLO (do the kids still say that?) 😉  I’ll explain how Weav Run impacted my running, #ButFirst, let me tell you what makes the app so unique.

The Weav Run app uses Weav Music to sync to your running speeds.  There’s a lot that goes into this as the music composition changes in real time without impacting the quality of the song.  There’s also the issue of music licenses and such…which is why the playlist on the app isn’t huge, but more songs are being added all the time.  There are even less songs available outside of the U.S. (because of licensing), but that will also evolve over time.

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Let me break it down for you:  Let’s say you are out for a morning run and you want to run a steady pace of a 10 min/mile (the steps/minute will be different for everyone based on cadence).  You fire up the Weav Run app and the music will stay in sync with your steps! But then, your neighbor’s dog gets loose and chases you down the street – increasing your speed to an 8 min/mile.  Oh no!  Have no fear, the music from the app will speed up with you!  Finally, the dog gives up but your hot neighbor is out working in the yard and maybe you want to slow down a bit 😉 like to a 12 min/mile.  The music will slow down to your tempo so you don’t lose any precious running time.  Did I mention, this all happens with the SAME song?  And the song still sounds great – either fast or slow – without sounding like a band of Darth Vaders or chipmunks!

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So now that you know a little bit more about the app, I’ll explain how this technology impacts your running.

From the Weav Run website:

Studies show that running in sync with music can:

  • Boost performance by an extra 15-20%**
  • Decrease your perception of effort by 10% (erasing pain & making running more pleasurable)
  • Motivate you to get out the door, or stick to your routine

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I can honestly say that after using this app for the last month – I have experienced all of these things!  I even ran one of my fastest miles this year!

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I have also been running more negative splits, enjoying my runs, and getting motivated everyday!  And I literally mean everyday, because I have been participating in Weav Run’s #WeavStreak this month!  30 days of running to finish the year!

Streaking is hard during the winter because it’s cold and the days are shorter.  Streaking during Christmas is harder because I just want to drink hot chocolate and watch Hallmark movies, but the Weav Run app has definitely made me lace up and get out the door for at least one mile each day!  In case you’re wondering, I’m on day 21 now – follow me on Instagram @theswagmama to see me finish out the streak!

The app has 2 different modes (Indoor and Outdoor) and you can choose to either enter your desired steps per minute or have the app detect your cadence.

I also beta tested the interval mode on the treadmill and really enjoyed my experience! The change in tempo of the music prompted me when to speed up and slow down during each interval and it made the time pass quickly.

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But, with all new technology there are always a few hiccups.  I did have a few technical issues with the app:

  • Sometimes the app measured that I was running longer distances compared to my Garmin.
  • The time was a little off with the interval mode.  The app said I ran 34 minutes, whereas the treadmill said I only ran 30 minutes.
  • You can’t go back and edit your runs.
  • I had issues sharing my runs to Twitter.  It acted like I could upload my run to Twitter, but then there wasn’t an actual upload button to click.
  • The music takes up a lot of space.  If you download the music to your phone, it will take up a lot of memory.
  • It’s only available for Apple iPhone users. Sorry Android friends!

However, I believe these are all things that will be improved with time!

You can also check out some frequently asked questions here.

Another added bonus is that the Weav Run app team is pretty awesome!  They are quick to respond to your questions about the app and they are dedicated to improving your Weav Run experience!

Overall, I really loved this app and will continue to use it to improve my running performance!  I learned that my cadence is not that great, so I’m looking forward to setting a new cadence goal for 2018!

Until then, I’ll keep on streaking! 😉

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The app is currently free on the IOS app store.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Join me on #BibChat on Twitter on Tuesday, December 26th at 8pm CST to learn more about the app and to chat with some fun folks from the running community!  See you there!

I’m off to work on my next review!

~SM

4 Ways to Get Involved With the Honolulu Marathon!

“Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Honolulu Marathon 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!”

The Honolulu Marathon is coming up on December 10th,  and I have great news!!  There’s still time to get involved!  Here a few ways for you to get in on the action!

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photo courtesy of honolulumarathon.org
  • RUN!  There are 3 chances to run during the Honolulu Marathon weekend – The Kalakaua Merrie Mile is on December 9th in Waikiki.  Participate in this one mile fun run and then head over for a fun beach party and concert!  All ages welcome!  The Start to Park 10k is on December 10th and has the same start time and location of the Honolulu Marathon.  This is perfect for those who want to get a taste of the marathon course, but aren’t quite ready to run 26.2 miles.  The Honolulu Marathon – Then there’s the main event on December 10th.  It’s the fourth largest marathon in the United States and is commonly referred to as “26.2 miles in Paradise”.  Who doesn’t want to run in PARADISE?! ***Fun Fact: Last year, there were over 33,000 entrants and over 14,000 of them were from Japan!

 

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photo courtesy of honolulumarathon.org

 

  • Expo!  The expo will be held on December 7th, 8th, and 9th at the Hawaii Convention Center and is free and open to anyone!  You can register for any of the running events here at the expo, so it’s not too late to run any of the races! But if you aren’t up to running, then just enjoy roaming the expo and checking out all of the fun vendors!  You may even score some samples and swag!  You can also check out the vendor list and their booth locations here.
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photo courtesy of honolulumarathonexpo.com

  • Witness Greatness!  After everyone has run the Kalakaua Merrie Mile, you can cheer on all of the elite runners!  This is your chance to see Olympians from all over the world in action!  Check out who all will be running in the Elite Field here, including the current marathon world record holder, Dennis Kimetto    Also, be on the lookout for two-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds as he has announced that his final professional race will be this year’s Honolulu Marathon!
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photo courtesy of honolulumarathon.org

  • Tracking!  Even if you can’t make the event, you can still track your friends, family, or favorite racers!  You can follow the live results and watchlist page or you can download the event app!  Create a watchlist of all of the participants you are tracking and then see their progress as they cross each timing mat.

 

What do you think is the most interesting part of the Honolulu Marathon?!  Will you be participating this year?

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

 

 

Hats Off to BOCO Gear!

“Disclaimer: I received a free BOCO Gear Run Hat to review 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!”

If you scroll through most of my running photos, you will find that I am almost always wearing a hat.  Why is that?  Well a few reasons.  1.  I have a ton of hair.  2.  I don’t usually have a lot of time to properly style said hair (thanks kids).   3.  Hats offer protection from the daily elements (i.e. sun, wind, rain).  4.  They are stylish!

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to test out a new run hat from BOCO Gear!

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If you’ve never heard of BOCO Gear, they are a company based out of BOulder, COlorado (clever, huh?)…and they create performance hats, headbands, and other accessories for athletes.  You can browse their online shop or they will even create custom orders for your organization, team or event!  They created custom hats for BibRave and I love the look of this product!

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Since moving to Japan, I’ve been faced with some “challenging” weather conditions that I haven’t been used to.  San Diego spoiled me with it’s annual perfect weather, so I had to quickly adjust to various temperatures, humidity, rain, and even some crazy wind.  When I first received my BOCO Run Hat, it was typhoon season.  I didn’t even know that was a thing until I moved here.  BTW –  the height of typhoon season is like September/October so beware if you plan to travel to Japan during those times.  😉  Anywho, I didn’t want to let any little typhoon weather get me down so I thought, “What the heck – I’ll run outside anyway.”  Well the wind was no joke.  Running against the wind will really test your strength and it’s also annoying.  But I survived, and more importantly – My BOCO Run Hat didn’t budge!  I was shocked!  In fact, I kinda forgot I was wearing it at one point because it’s so lightweight!

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The good news about typhoons is they don’t last long.  After about 8 hours, it was all over and the skies cleared.  In fact, the next day was absolutely beautiful and I had to run again so I could see Mount Fuji in all of her glory!

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Not only did I like how this hat protected against the wind and rain,  I also liked knowing that my face was being shielded from the sun.  But for real – wear your sunscreen, kids!

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I also took my new hat friend for a ride in spin class, for some posing in yoga, and some stretching in pilates.  Obviously I didn’t need any protecting from the elements here…I just didn’t feel like doing my hair. 😉

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Overall, I think this is a great hat that all runners should own!  I love how light it feels and the way it stays put without squeezing my head.  The inside features a soft sweatband to wick away the sweat and it’s totally adjustable with a snap buckle (Velcro pulls my hair so I especially appreciate this feature).  It also folds up really easily so you can stick it in your pocket or bag when you’re travelling.  And throw it in the wash when it needs to refresh!  Super easy!

I was really impressed at how much this hat could withstand!  It even stayed put during play time with the kids and speed work on the track!

If you are looking for a new running hat, then BOCO Gear is the way to go!  Or if you are an organization or have a team looking for a custom order of hats, BOCO will hook it up!

Prices range from $23-$35 in their online shop and there is a minimum of 35 hats for a custom order.  So go create some great SWAG that anyone would love to have! 😉

Already own some BOCO Gear?  Snap a pic and tag #BOCOGEAR on Instagram for your chance to be seen on their website!

I’m off to review the next product!

~SM

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