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Product Review: Stance Socks

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. As someone on her feet all day we asked her try out Stance socks and give us her feedback. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

Stance Run Socks

Let’s talk socks.  Ok, so I’m a bit of a frugal gal.  It’s hard for me to spend a ton of money on something that nobody is going to see—like socks.  Let me tell ya though, I’ve tried to save money on this category over the years and it has NEVER paid off—especially because I have crazy persnickety feet.  When it comes to running, having happy feet is at the top of my list of importance. Every one of my most miserable runs (and believe me, I remember ALL of them) had something to do with sad blistered feet or angry toes that were sliding around in my shoes.  Even still, my finicky feet have struggled in certain high end running socks. Needless to say, this has been an area of trial and error throughout the years for me. So, when my friends at the Runner’s Edge asked me to try out Stance socks–which were totally new to me–I was excited to see how they would work out.  

Look

Stance offers great design, with a variety of colors and styles in their socks. They range from super fun to subdued mixed with a splash of fun to clean and classic in design. They are available in crew length or tab. Whatever your style—I’m certain you’ll find something you like in this brand.

Comfort  

Right from the get-go, I LOVED how these plush socks felt on my weary feet. I may or may not have worn them 48 hours straight on their first wear because I just didn’t want to take them off.  The material is incredibly soft and will make you want to buy more than one pair.

Fit

Fitting true to size, the tab socks hit right at the ankle and sit comfortably just above my shoes while crew hit mid-calf.  With an anatomically correct fit and seamless structure they formed well to each foot without any bulky or bunchy spots, which kept my toes singing happy tunes while on the road and trail.

Performance

I wore these a bunch—from running to hiking to walking to cleaning house to sleeping–shoot, I even wore them to the pool.  They never disappointed. My feet stayed happy on my runs, and I have no blisters or lost toenails to report. They have a nice element of compression to them which seemed to keep my feet from swelling on longer runs.  Also, I didn’t have any issues with odor. They held up in the wash, however they do seem a bit fuzzier (but not pilled) afterward. I think this is simply due to the soft nature of the material, but they are by no means wearing thin.  

I completely recommend trying Stance run socks!  I will most definitely be purchasing several more pairs (which is a way better choice than my 48-hour obsession confession). Priced from $14-$17 for tab and $18-$20 for crew they aren’t your bargain sock, but believe me—they’re worth it and so are your feet! Check them out at Runner’s Edge today!

Happy running!

-Angie

Product Review: New Balance 880v8

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. As an RErun Ambassador we asked her to test out the New Balance 880 and give us her thoughts. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

Until a few weeks ago, I’ve never tried on a pair of New Balance shoes. I’ve had a hard time settling into a running shoe for the last year or so. It seems whenever I find my favorite shoe a new model comes out, and changes just enough that I’m back to square one searching for my new fave. I’m sure some of you can relate to this. I think I kind of have persnickety feet, so I may never find the perfect shoe—but gosh darn it I keep trying and thanks to my friends at the Runner’s Edge I’ve found some pretty sweet options along the way!

Look

This is a great looking shoe! Over the last month I received a ton of compliments on their color and overall look. The understated color paired with touches of metallic silver and hot pink accents bring a fun change up from the bolder options out there. I wasn’t sure I was going to love the lighter color, but I am digging it…and call me weird, but my favorite part of the look of the 880s are the navy polka-dotty laces. The only downside to the color is they can start looking a bit dirty this time of year, though they wash up nicely with a quick wipe down. They also come in Black, “Blue Iris” (Lavender) and “Guava” (Coral). After having worn them for a few weeks, they are beginning to show signs of wear with creased mesh uppers as well as in the outer cushioning.

Fit

The 880s fit true to size with a 10mm drop and slightly wider + taller toe box. Their neutral sole is a bit more shoe than I’m used to in a road shoe. I felt a little taller in them, which means they must have a bit more cushioning than I’ve had with previous shoes. The cushioning is firm, but quite comfy—just not in a pillow-y soft way. My toes were happy for some extra room, but I found my forefoot slipping around quite a bit leaving them feeling a bit raw after longer runs. However, I found that when I locked my heal in place with a “runner’s tie” this was completely eliminated.

Ride

Worn on varied terrain—from the track to trail to road to sand to…bunch grassI felt stable and well supported (as much as possible when it comes to running on bunch grass—that stuff takes a toll!). But seriously, the 880s are a nicely versatile shoe. I was able to bust out some fast miles on the track feeling a spring in my step as well as tackle some uphill, rocky climbs (and descents) without wishing for more traction. On sand and bunch grass my ankles were stable enough to keep a decent pace. On longer runs as I began to fatigue I was aware that they felt a bit clunky, but I suppose that is the trade off for having a bit more cushion.

The 880s are moderately priced at $125. Overall, I really love this shoe and think it’s definitely worth taking out for a test drive to see how it does for you the next time you find yourself at the Runner’s Edge. Their knowledgeable staff will help you know if this is a good option for you and your running goals!

Happy Running!

-Angie

Product Review: Oiselle Ballard Bra

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

A good bra—or the right bra can be hard to find but it is well worth the search when you find it.  I mean a good bra is a life changer.

So, how do you measure a good running bra? Personally, I like thin straps, nice lines, girly details, medium support, good padding (I’m back and forth on removable cups), smoothing (thick enough to provide coverage without showing off the outline of the cup), something that dries quickly and won’t freeze me out at the finish line (am I the only one that struggles with this?  Freakin’ brrr….), won’t smell and of course—is COMFORTABLE. I’ve had bras that I feel like I’m falling out of and I have had bras that I literally need help getting out of (Ok, I probably bought the wrong size that time, but that’s all part of finding the right bra!).

LOOK

The Oiselle Ballard Bra passes in the pretty department for sure. It immediately jumped out at me as something that I wanted to try on. It has a minimalist look about it with the clean square neckline, which is complimented with mesh trim. The double strappy criss-crossed back gives the front’s classic lines a spunky vibe that works well with a peek-a-boo backed top or alone. It comes in royal blue, black and white.      

FIT

Fitting true to size with a smoothing fit, the Ballard continues to impress me. I love the modest 

cut, which hits mid chest and a bit lower on the torso, reminding me of a bralette style which is oh-so comfy. I find myself wearing it with my daily wardrobe as much as I do for running. Oiselle sizes their bras from 2-12, so it’s easy to get just the right size. If you aren’t sure on sizing—the gals (and guys) at Runner’s Edge can help you get it right. I don’t need a ton of support, but felt it was on the higher end of medium support feeling very well supported without that “squished” corset feeling. The removeable cups are nicely contoured, not visible through the bra or through a fitted top, are easily adjustable, stay put in their pockets while running and best of all–keep you from being nipple-y. The cut of the back is very flattering, gracing you with a slim and smooth profile.

FEEL

The Ballard’s tight knit fabric wicks moisture well and kept me cool but not frosty. The inner lining is very soft, and I had zero issues with chafing or odors. It washes up well without fading, pilling or bleeding. Air drying is recommended and I was impressed that it remained super soft after doing so.

I’m super happy with the Oiselle Ballard and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for the perfect running bra. It’s priced at $50 and is worth every penny…I’m definitely going to buy a second one!

Happy running!

-Angie  

Product Review: CEP Compression Socks

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain.

CEP Compression Run Socks

Compression is common word in the running world, you hear it often when talking about recovery and injury prevention. But I must confess: outside of an occasional taping from my PT, I haven’t done much “compressing”….or really even known how to. I’ve often wondered about compression socks or sleeves, so when Runner’s Edge asked me to try out a pair of CEP Compression Run Socks, I was excited to give them a try and see what, if any, benefits I felt from wearing them.

We’re all familiar with the recovery acronym RICE:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest is pretty straightforward, even though it’s probably the hardest part. Ice and Elevation are also fairly straightforward and a little easier to do—think guilt-free couch and TV time. But Compression…it just sounds intimidating–and technical. But now, it’s as simple as slipping on a pair of knee-high socks…

The Fit

Compression socks are going to be tight—that’s the whole point. A quick measuring of your calf will get you fitted to the correct size for you. Getting into them the first time or two was a bit of a tricky business, but now I can do it without much thought. Early on I found that I could only do about 20-30 minutes at a time, but now I can wear them for longer stretches—and I really love the way they feel. When I wore them on a long run, I completely forgot I was even wearing them—I also found that my lower legs actually felt less fatigued. The additional padding in the heel felt great and the seamless toe adds to the comfort level of these socks.   

The Look

These are not your Grandma’s compression socks. CEP has done a great job of designing compression that is fashionable. They come in an array of colors for men as well as women—I chose the orange/hot pink…I’m loving their spunky vibe!  

The Purpose

The biggest benefit that I saw from “compressing” was the increased rate of recovery–muscle soreness diminished quicker when worn post workout. I also found that wearing them while running added support that I felt would prove to be very beneficial, especially if dealing with shin splints. My achilles flared up a few months ago and I found compression paired with a rest day has worked to calm this down. I also have an ankle that likes to swell up after long workouts, hours on my feet or even while traveling. I’m finding that a big benefit of compression is improved circulation, which is helping to alleviate this type of swelling.

On the technical side, these are “Progressive Compression” as well as “Consistent”. What does that mean? It takes specific rates of pressure to qualify as medical grade, in this case: 20-30 mmHg (millimeter of Mercury–stretching way beyond my paygrade here) units of pressure. Progressive compression means the pressure ‘progresses’ from a higher pressure (at the ankle) to a lower pressure (at the calf). Consistent means it delivers the same rate of pressure to an area, in this case the the entire calf. This all works together increasing circulation, stabilizing ligaments and tendons while reducing muscle vibration.

In Short

I found the CEP Compression Run Socks to be a great addition to my running and recovery regime. After just completing a year long endurance goal, my legs and feet were feeling a bit chewed up. I’m happy to report they are feeling happy and healthy again! It’s so good to be reminded of the importance of recovery and injury prevention from time to time. Both are so crucial to healthy and happy running. Maybe it’s time for you to check in with your recovery strategies. If you want to move into the world of compression, check out what’s available at the Runner’s Edge!

-Angie

Product Review: Brooks Launch 5

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain. As a RErun Ambassador we asked Angie to try out the brand new Brooks Launch 5 and share her thoughts.

BROOKS Launch 5 

Is there anything more exciting than a new pair of running shoes? It’s like a fresh start…and getting started in them is exciting! I’ve heard the quote: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you running shoes—and that’s almost the same thing”. I love it—and it’s so true!   When it’s getting close to time to retire a much-loved-on pair of running shoes, I find myself excitedly dreaming of and even anticipating a trip to The Runner’s Edge for my next pair. What color will they be? Where will they take me? How might they enhance my running experience? 

The LOOK: 

The Launch 5 passes the pretty test with flying colors!  With classic, slim and sleek lines these shoes stood out to me right away. The lightweight and low-profile design combined with a shapely toe give them a petite, feminine and sporty look while hugging close to the ground.  They come in 4 fun and classic colors: Hot Pink/Royal, Black/Teal, Black/Grey/Purple and Silver/Black. With reflective material placed subtly underneath the mesh at the heel and toe, you are sure to be visible and chic at the same time. 

The FEEL: 

I tend to have problems finding shoes that keep the tops of my toes happy. For this reason, I have hopped from shoe to shoe over the years attempting to find a running shoe that will eliminate this nuisance for me. I’ve had best success with minimal drop and sock-like uppers. With a 10mm midsole drop, I expected to have toe issues based on my history. But the Launch’s full “Air Mesh” uppers, kept the tops of my feet and toes happier than they’ve been in a while, which is a HUGE win for me! The cushioning at the heel and ankle is generous and felt great. I did notice that they hit slightly higher on the back of the heel. When wearing tab socks they rubbed just above my sock line a bit. This wasn’t enough friction to cause any blistering, however I did notice a slight callous developing.   

The PERFORMANCE: 

The neutral support soles are flexible but also have a sturdy feel without bulk or rigidity. The cushioning has a nice firmness that absorbs well while remaining  comfy in the foot bed at the same time. Doing single leg squats and jumps I felt stable and balanced as the soles seem to have a bit more stability than other neutral soles.  Only worn on snow and ice, I felt their grip was good–though it was difficult to really put their speed to the test given our super icy conditions. My only chance at a fast workout with non-icy conditions meant turning to the treadmill. Usually treadmill runs leave the bottoms of my feet feeling a bit raw due to the added heat/moisture, but they felt great the entire workout—even energized. Fitting true to size, my feet stayed secure without slipping around inside. Laces are a nice length–plenty for a double knot, not enough to flap around and drive ya nuts.    

Why buy the LAUNCH 5? From EASY run to LONG run to INTERVALS to TREADMILL to  STRENGTH training these Brooks  have won me over. They’ve kept me warm in less than ideal conditions and my happy toes are helping me “RUN HAPPY” (not to be too cliché) and RECOVER happy. Coming in at $100 the Brooks Launch will even keep your finances happy! 

Happy New Year! 

-Angie

Product Review: Protein Bars

Angie Partain is very involved in the Missoula Running Community as both a runner and frequent volunteer despite being a busy mom. You can follow her adventures at @jnapartain. As a RErun Ambassador we asked Angie to compare a few of our available protein bar options and share her thoughts.

This past month, I was asked to review some of the nutrition that’s available for purchase at the Runner’s Edge. Over the last few weeks I’ve been fueling and recovering with RX Bars, Honey Stinger Protein Bars and PICKY Bars. I had never tried any of these before, even though I often turn to a protein bar for quick, balanced fuel. I have a sensitive and often temperamental tummy, so I am cautious about what I eat–especially before running. Over the years, I’ve tried so many different protein bars trying to find THE ONE that will work for me. But ultimately, I tend to keep changing it up due to burn out on flavor and texture. Plus, some bars will just work better than others for different workouts. Here’s a quick summary of my thoughts on Texture, Flavor, a Side-by-Side Nutrition Comparison and their overall Performance.  

TEXTURE:

I’m a texture person, so this matters to me. Honey Stinger is a nice fluffy whipped peanut butter dipped in milk chocolate. RX Bars are dense and moist with pops of almonds and cashews.  PICKY BARS are also dense and moist with a snap, crackle and pop throughout. Texture-wise, these would all be easy to quickly consume while running.

FLAVOR:

I’m also a flavor person. Honey Stinger reminded me of a Reece’s…Totally yummy enough to fool you into feeling guilty. RX Bars are delicious without being overly sweet.  I loved the tropical flavors with thin flakes of chocolate in the Coconut Chocolate—and the name Chocolate Sea Salt says it all–dark chocolate with flecks of coarse sea salt on top! PICKY BARS probably tasted the healthiest to me as I could pick up on hints of apricot and raisins, which was delicious paired with the spice blend. Moroccan Your World reminded me of a comforting bowl of oatmeal garnished with dried fruit and fall spices. The Chai and Catch Me was also a comforting, warm blend of maple and spice but also a bit invigorating with punches of ginger and cloves.

NUTRITIONAL COMPARISON:

If you watch ingredients or have food restrictions, these clean bars may catch your interest. With a mere 8 whole food ingredients, the RX Bars are free of Gluten Soy and Dairy. PICKY BARS are Gluten Free as well and only contain whole food ingredients. Honey Stinger bars are 25% (organic) honey, which an anti-inflammatory—bonus!  

PERFORMANCE:

These are all great bars, but which one is better for a long run or workout? I would turn to the RX Bar, which lasted me about and hour and a half. The PICKY Bar is a great re-fuel on the trail as well as before your shorter run.  What about recovery? I would choose the Honey Stinger every time. Total treat–no guilt!!

CONCLUSION:

Overall, I really enjoyed each of these bars. If I were to rank them by my favorite taste, I would have to say the Honey Stinger Peanut Butta, RX Coconut Chocolate, RX Chocolate Sea Salt, PICKY BARS Moroccan Your World and last but certainly not least PICKY BARS Chai and Catch Me. I’m happy to report that these clean bars all settled well, without tummy issues (YAY!). None made me feel lethargic, and I was out running in minimal time. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers (which are totally my favorite part of Christmas morning!), these are perfect!! They range in price from $2.50-$3 at the Runner’s Edge and you can pick up some gummies or waffle crisps while you’re at it!  

Merry Christmas!

Angie