Product Review: MetCon START Pre-Training

Disclaimer: I received MetCon Start 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!

Some Perspective

I feel like I need to “set the stage” if you will to give you a glimpse of my current mindset and also how MetCon START has really helped me re-develop my running routine.

The pandemic has been weird. Like most people, I found myself unemployed and on a forced 50+ day vacation from employment. I’ll admit, while stressful, the time off was actually a bit of a blessing in disguise. I was given an opportunity to “reset” so to speak and get my head right.

Over the break I ran based on how and when I wanted. It was beautiful and intuitive, I ran without much thought or stress and it became a daily habit everyday around 8 or 9AM.

Fast forward to present-day; I’m back to being employed (and feeling so so grateful) and also oddly enough finding myself wondering when I’m going to find time to run.

Which brings me to the point of this review.

MetCon START, to Start the Day!

Now gainfully employed I have three options when it comes to running. One, run in the morning; Two, run at lunch; Three, run in the evening.

The most painful of these (because I enjoy sleep) is getting up early to run. So naturally I’m left to run over my lunch or in the evening.

It’s July and that means Pennsylvania is swelling with heat and humidity. So those lunch runs I love- well, not so much unless I want to shower three times in a single day. So that means evening runs will have to suffice, right? Wrong. The evening is when the day is at its peak heat, so if I thought running over lunch was too hot, I guess running in the evening is off the table too.

Morning runs it is! Insert groans here.

Actually, it’s not that bad and MetCon START has made the process a little more “user friendly”. Just one (1) scoop 15 mins before my run, and I’m good to go!

My Routine…

User preferences will vary, but on days where I run in the mornings I get up, get dressed and immediately consume around 12-16 oz of water mixed with one (1) scoop of MetCon START.

I typically chase START with a bottle of water to just prepare my body with fluids, since I’ll most likely sweat out most of it. And that’s it. Sounds too easy… right?

My Thoughts

I’ve been using MetCon START for two weeks now. One container has approximately 30 servings which means just enough for a month’s supply.

When I started using the pre-training mix I avoided consuming any other caffeinated drinks in the morning. MetCon states that START has the equivalent boost of two (2) servings of your typically coffee beverage. I’m not one to have any sensitivity toward caffeine, but to be safe I would try to limit my intake of any supplemental caffeine in the mornings.

4:30AM wake-up calls for a little boost!

START has a nice subtitle boost of energy that I have found was sufficient to sustain my needs for my morning 3 mile run. Unlike other brands I have tried, START has a gradual release of energy, versus an all-at-once hit. I prefer the gradual release and absorption, again it’s not a huge pump like other brands.

The taste is fairly mild, and has a citrus finish. It’s not harsh on the tongue or back of the throat, START mixes easily and goes down without fuss. I have hastily consumed START on occasion (waking up late but still wanting to get in the miles) and can happily report no stomach issues or cramps.

Overall Opinion

At $49.99 and roughly 30 servings, I feel the price isn’t horrible. Along those lines, I feel like when it comes to energy mixes, you get what you pay for, and MetCon is at the higher end of quality and performance.

** Speaking of price, you can Save 20% off your purchase by using discount code BIBRAVE at checkout! **

The mixture blends well and goes down easily, no clumps or gross flavor profiles. I’ve consumed this on the go with no GI issues and enjoy the gradual release of energy.

I have found on longer runs (in the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania) around 5 miles I start to see my energy fade and need an additional boost.

On the weekends, I’m typically up a little later in the day (around 7:30AM) and consume additional caffeine (coffee) in the mornings before mixes up START and heading out. I have found consuming coffee in addition to START has not had any negative affects, but it’s not something I would do daily.

For what it’s worth, I’ve used and enjoyed START and will continue to kick off my days with a little scoop to help give me that “boost” I need!

Race Recap: Virtual Race Run for the Zoo!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to review and race the Run for the Zoo Virutal Race 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!

Run for the Zoo Virtual Edition!

I think this goes without saying, but like most races in 2020, the “Run for the Zoo” Race has gone virtual. That means being able run when ever my schedule permits, and having the luxury to run on my time makes things a lot easier to plan and execute. Virtual runs also give me an opportunity to get my miles in and get on with the day, without having to travel to and from the race.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks – if you are a people person, running in isolation is no fun, and not having a support team along the way can make things slightly more challenging. However, since we’re all professionals of running over the quarantine, this virtual race was business as usual for me.

Race day highlights!

Since I ran the streets in my backyard, I got to take in the beautiful scenery and wonder of an Amish Countryside- complete with farm animals! The cows were very encouraging… the horse and buggies didn’t want to race though.

I also timed my run to fall in the late afternoon, when the temperatures were most likely to dip- and the forecast was calling for rain, so the motivation to finish with haste was present!

Overall Impression

I’m glad I was able to Run for the Zoo and bring awareness to my social circle about this race. The Lincoln Park Zoo relies on various fundraising events (like this race) to support their operations.

If you’d like to support the Zoo, they have numerous exciting programs (virtual and in-person) shared on their website: HERE

BibRave Pro Insight: How I Learned to Like Virtual Races – Run Eat Ralph

With all of our favorite races being cancelled, deferred, postponed, and moved around it’s no surprise that we’re going to see a surge of virtual race options.

After the stay at home orders are lifted how soon will you feel comfortable engaging in: A run with a close friend? What about your willingness to participate in group runs with your local running club or group of friends? Finally how about retuning to races after the stay at home orders are lifted, with the large mass of crowds they draw, will you be comfortable?

Virtual race options provide an opportunity for us to run our favorite race in the comfort of our own environment. Most virtual runs are DIY from the day, time, and setting. This DIY approach provides you with the ability to pick what day you want to run, what time suits you best, and where you are going to run that’s more convenient for you.

But don’t just take my word for it.

What are the BibRave Pros saying?

Fellow BibRave Pro, Run Eat Ralph, shares his insight on how he’s grown to like virtual races, read more on his blog for inspiration on how you might enjoy them too!

Virtual options starting popping up and at first I wasn’t all that excited about the thought. Running a run on my regular routes and calling it a race seems funny to me. There are plenty of good reasons though…

How I Learned to Like Virtual Races

Be sure to show Ralph some love! Cheers!

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5k – 15k Cancelled!

Well, this should come as no surprise, in more recent news the COVID-19 virus (known as Coronavirus) has created a stir in the running community as many race organizers announce the cancellation of races throughout the nation.

The Allstate Hot Chocolate series announced yesterday its closure of another HC15K race, this time, Philadelphia was included in the list.

Participants: Please check your emails for important event updates and to find out “what’s next” for the race.

Frustrating?

Frustrating? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

As I mentioned previously (Shamrock Marathon Update), this is a first (at least to my limited knowledge) for most race organizers, as pandemics aren’t common place in our nation. As such proper precautions are being taken to help prevent the spread of the virus for the overall well-being of the community at large.

What can we do?

First thing is first, don’t be a jerk. Seriously.

I understand the frustration of losing money on a race registration, and I understand the frustration of having trained for months (if not an entire year) in hopes of crushing a running goal. I, myself, have been looking forward to the upcoming race season with much anticipation, especially since most of these races involve more than just running but offer a real chance to connect with friends (new and old).

As much as I’m disappointed, it’s important to step back and look at the big picture.

What goes into a race?

I think often times people forget that a race is much more than a one day, or weekend event. A race takes planning and a community to support it. In all the photos of the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate race, what you don’t see is the amount of volunteers needed, along with first-responders standing by. As a semi-former first-responder, I can’t tell you how under appreciated our emergency services are.

The Philadelphia Police department, along with Fire and EMS are at every corner, twist, turn, and intersection of the race. These resources provide a crucial role in the security and safety of all participants.

What you don’t see in the photos is the large Sanitation crew on the day of the event. Since the Boston bombing, the city has increased security in the area tenfold. Large Sanitation Trucks (trash trucks) and barriers are placed at critical intersections surrounding the race to prevent anyone from driving into the race festival area or course.

What you don’t see is the volume of Emergency Medical staff on standby during the event when someone is injured along anywhere in the course. Last year I recall a runner being transported to the hospital after sustaining running related injuries- the Ambulance drove among runners!

Demanding full refunds seems a bit selfish. Most of the participant fees cover not only the swag and general overhead, but there’s a ton of logistics involved and time spent organizing that can’t be refunded. Time is money, and when an event is planned and people invest a lot of time to make it happen, I think it’s only fair we honor those individuals but not requesting a full refund. Also, not to mention the charities involved in conjunction with the race. Demanding a full refund robs those charities of precious dollars.

Point being: take it in stride and accept the outcome.

I know and understand the frustration, after all I’m a participant as well! But I also think we all need to step back and look at the big picture and appreciate how difficult this decision is, and to respect the outcome, after all it’s respect for the community that is most important.

Important Reminders

Another thing to remember, during this pandemic, local community hospitals are going to be inundated with patients. Since this is flu season, anyone that so much as senses a whiff of flu symptoms is most likely going to think “what if” and head to the local hospital or urgent care facility for Coronavirus testing.

Now add the needs of the 1,000’s of people registered and participating in the event all at once… seems like a recipe for disaster. So out of respect for the Philadelphia community, I applaud the event organizers for decided to cancel the event.

Put it this way, had the race not been cancelled, and there was an outbreak of the Coronavirus, what’s the likelihood the city of Philadelphia would be willing to allow future running events? Like I said, don’t be a jerk, let’s preserve our trust and relationship with the communities we run and hope for a better future.

See you next year Philly Hot Chocolate 15k!

Race Recap: 465 Challenge

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Challenge race 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!

Virtual Challenge

The 465 Challenge is a 53 mile virtual race that runs from January 1 to February 29 (2020). Participants have from the beginning of January to the end of February to complete 53 miles either walking, running, jogging, swimming, or biking. This challenge is a great way to make that New Year resolution stick!

Another bonus is that any participant that completes multiple intervals of 53 miles are considered “loopers” and join the Looper Club. And, if you complete the 53 miles within 24 hours, you join the 24 hr Club!

My Strategy

From the beginning, my goal was to compete at least 3 loops over the course of the challenge, through running only. 156 miles over the course of the challenge seemed pretty obtainable as long as the weather held out.

I’ll admit, Jan – Feb in Pennsylvania can be a bit of a gamble, especially since those are typically my lowest monthly totals when it comes to running. Throw in the added bonus of our local YMCA shutting down, and I knew this was going to be a challenge that was going to force me to get creative if the weather went foul.

And getting creative I did! I was determined to only track running miles only. I incorporated my long runs and even a half marathon into my schedule to make sure I hit my goal! The 465 Challenge was the perfect way to plan out my otherwise boring start to the year.

Mild Winter = Better Mileage

As luck would have it, January through February was actually quiet mild for our region. Instead of snow and ice, the Northeast saw a lot of rain! I felt like the entire last two months have been nothing but a wet soupy mess.

Did I mention it rained a lot this winter?

Despite the rain, I managed to complete my 3 loop goal over the course of the 465 Challenge. It helped that I had a handful of long runs on nice clear Sundays and not to mention the Squirrely Tail Half Marathon to boot.

This challenge couldn’t have gone off any better, and it was so rewarding to be able to maintain my fitness levels over the dark winter months. I’m glad I signed up for the challenge and I’m even happier I met my goal!

Overall Impression

The 465 Challenge was a great way to stay focused on training through the darkest winter months. The online community and encouragement from other participants really helped me stay focused and kept my on-track on days I was lacking motivation. This challenge was a great way to start 2020 and to really hammer out those early New Years resolutions.

The swag was pretty cool as well! Participants received a pretty unique medal, and if you added it to your registration a nice quality shirt!

Did you miss out?! That’s okay, make sure you track down the 465 Challenge and check out all the upcoming races they are offering and be sure to sign up for next year!

Website: https://www.465challenge.com

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/465challenge/

Race Registration: Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Philadelphia

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k/5k race 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!


It’s that time of the year again! Hot Chocolate season is here and I’m super excited to share that I’m signed up to run the 2020 Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k/5k on April 4th!

Make it Even Sweeter!

Use code BRHCPHILLY19 at check out to receive a free Hot Chocolate running hat! #HCPhillyBR #Bibchat

Make sure you Register HERE

Check out this year’s swag! I can’t wait to run this race again and experience all Philly has to offer! After running this race my family and I usually hit up Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks and stuff our faces with Philly’s finest. How do you celebrate?!

Photos  courtesy of AllState Hot Chocolate 15k/5k

Runderwear Paris Marathon Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I received a Runderwear Kit 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!

Destination races are a big deal, they involve a lot of time and energy planning and preparing for a getaway of fun. A destination race in another country seems like such a daunting task. But what if you didn’t have to worry about the how and when? What if all you had to worry about was just showing up?

Runderwear to the Rescue

That’s what the awesome people at Runderwear have done- they have thought of everything! Hotel, airfare, you name it, Runderwear has you covered.

And to make the deal even sweeter, they are throwing in a Runderwear Kit, plus a TON of other goodies.

Enter to win: https://www.runderwear.com/pages/enter-bibrave

Cold Weather Running with TurtleGloves!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of the new TurtleGloves 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!”

COLD WEATHER RUNNING

It’s that time of the year, when the morning air becomes crisp, when the leaves all fall, and winter is at your front door waiting to present your cheeks with a stinging cold kiss. It’s also the time of year that the mornings are darker, motivation tends to run out, and the thought outdoor running just makes you want to just stay inside.

WHAT’S A RUNNER TO DO?

Love it or hate it, cold-weather running requires a little bit of extra prep-work, both mentally and physically.

Let’s talk about your mental game. Everyone has their own methods to psych themselves out for cold weather running. Whether it’s the reward of a hot drink afterward or some sweet indulgence, or maybe thoughts of a nice hot shower, there is no denying that cold weather running takes effort. Now, I could dive deep into mental preparedness, but for the sake of keeping things relatively short, I’m going to keep it simple.

Let’s just cover the basics, in the first step to making sure you’re mentally prepared, is knowing that it’s not just you who procrastinates. Humans tend to be on the lazier side, it’s just in our genetic makeup. Our “lizard brain” likes to conserve energy and makes hard tasks (like running in the cold) that much harder but creating an internal conflict. The lizard brain will make you question your routine (especially in the mornings): Why expend the energy if it’s not necessary? This warm bed is so safe and inviting, why not just wait until later?

Point being, you need to defeat the lizard! If there is a long-drawn-out process involved in your cold-weather running routine, chances are it’s not going to stick. Do yourself a favor and keep things simple to make getting out the door a little easier.

QUICK MOTIVATIONAL TIP: Morning running tends to take a back seat for me in the winter months, but when I have to hit those miles in the early morning, I have found sleeping in my running clothes the night before put things in motion. If I’m in my running clothes when I wake up, that’s one step closer to hitting the street!

Also, think of other innovative (yet simple) ways to get yourself out of bed. Try setting your alarm clock across the room, so when it goes off you HAVE to get up! Maybe you need extra motivation, try telling your spouse (or significant other) about your plans and ask for their assistance to keep you accountable. If you live alone, get your running friends on board and make plans to meet up. Having someone in your ear first thing in the morning can help you get up and get moving!

Along those same lines, making a commitment to others helps you maintain the course. Being held accountable can be a strong influence when you are more concerned about letting others down than yourself. So, make sure you share your goals and your plans to get out and running in the cold.

Like I mentioned earlier, we could go on and on about the mental games, and maybe that’s a future article, but let’s move on and get to the physical aspect of cold weather running, more specifically: gear.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

Running in cold weather calls for mental grit to combat the frost, as well as a demand for physical barriers to protect your body from turning into an ice cube. A good rule of thumb that was passed down to me, was to dress comfortably for the outside weather as if it were 20° warmer.

So, on a 50°F weather day, dress as if you were going outside on a 70°F day. For me, this equates to running shorts, a short-sleeve tech shirt with a light windbreaker, or a long-sleeve tech shirt. Your mileage may vary, but any time it dips below 60°F out, I’m wearing gloves.

It’s also helpful to layer up in light layers. Lightweight layers can be easily shed to help cool you down if you run too hot, it’s a great way to manage and regulate your body temperate.

CLOTHING RUNDOWN

This seems a little obvious, but a good pair of wool socks are a good choice when hitting the cold outdoors. If not, most athletic running socks that cover your ankles are a good choice. Some running shoe brands have “GTX” models with added waterproofing and extra insulation to combat the wet and cold, but I have always just worn my trusty go to “normal” running shoes. Double up on the socks if that’s your jam, but I’ve always felt a weird relief getting my feet wet in the snow on those long runs.

QUICK TIP: If there is snow and/or ice on the ground, take some time to invest in some sort of traction device you can easily put on over your shoes. Without naming any brands, I have two different pairs of traction devices; one pair has minimal studs that work great in the ice and light snow, the other pair have pretty aggressive spikes to help in deeper snow and icy conditions.

Base layering, I always start off with running shorts, depending on the temperatures (and wind) I might cover up my legs with running tights, again focused on lightweight materials that I can shed if I get too hot. On wicked cold days, I have run in jogging sweatpants before but found I tend to operate on the hotter side of the spectrum and the sweatpants were a little too warm for me.

Next up, running shirt, I always use either a short-sleeve or long-sleeve a tech shirt as a base layer. It all depends on how cold and windy it is outside. If it’s going to be windy on my run, long sleeves are a must. After the base layer shirt, I add on (cold days where I’m looking for extra warmth) an activewear sweater, or (cold windy days where I need a break from the wind) a light windbreaker or light jacket. Again, if you focus on light layering techniques, you can never really “overdress” for the occasion.

Headgear for me is pretty basic, it’s either a hat or beanie. I usually always wear a technical trucker hat year-round. In the colder months, I’d recommend using a moisture-wicking cover-up such as a neck gator. These are designed to help block the elements from your neck and face and are pretty versatile in the sense that they can be worn around your neck, or as headgear, or as a sweatband. I like to combine the neck gator and technical trucker or beanie on cold days to keep my head warm and relatively sweat-free.

Hand coverage is important to me, as I mentioned earlier, any time the temperature drops below 60°F, gloves are a must.

Speaking of gloves now is the perfect time to throw in a little advertisement for my newest most favoritest gloves in town: Turtle Gloves! These bad boys were made for cold outdoor adventures! Made with Polartec Windbloc technology, these gloves pack a punch! Not only are they windproof, but they are water repellant and lightweight designed to keep your hands warm even when wet!

I personally put them to the test the day they arrived, and I took them out for an hour-long run in the wind, rain, and snow. I was shocked by how warm they were, despite being wet, and how awesome they were at blocking out the wind!

The greatest thing about the Turtles Gloves is the convertible nature of the gloves. Hands too warm? Maybe you need to use your hands to find new music, answer a call, or tie a shoe? Just flip them inside out and these mittens transform into finger-free gloves!

If you’d like to try them on for yourself, use discount code: TURTLEGLOVESBR to save 15% off your order! You can find them at www.turtlegloves.com

HOW DO YOU WEATHER THE COLD?

Those are my tips for cold weather running, simply put, wear lots of light layers to help easily regulate your core body temperature. Also, dress for temperatures around 20° warmer than the actual outside temperature. What’s your cold-weather gear look like? Share in the comments below!

Pre-Race Checklist

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Freedoms Run Half Marathon race 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!

With race-day begin tomorrow, I thought I’d share my pre-race checklist for my typical half marathon race! This isn’t an all inclusive list, but it chock full of my “go-to” race essentials that help me power through race-day.

Continue reading

Aftershokz Xtrainerz Unboxing!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Xtrainerz 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!

What’s up, everyone?! The fine people at Aftershokz sent me their newest bone-conducting headphones “Xtrainerz” to test out and offer my feedback.

In this “Stance Short” I unbox the newest headsets and offer my initial impression!
Stay tuned for a full review!

Visit bibrave.aftershokz.com and use code “BRBUNDLE” for $50 off the Adventure Bundle!