Category Archives: review

review and giveaway: energybits

If you spend any time in the Twitter athlete/healthy-living circles, you’ve probably seen people talking about ENERGYbits. I know I’ve been reading about them, and I’ve been curious. I’ve definitely been focusing on eating cleaner (most of the time!), though I still struggle with running fuel. I’m still pretty stuck in my Gu ways!

I was doing some chatting on Twitter a few months ago and scored myself a sample of ENERGYbits to try out.


From my contact:

ENERGYbits is a new Boston based sports nutrition company. Our “bits” are rapidly becoming the fuel of choice for athletes and people looking to lead active lifestyles. ENERGYbits have the highest concentration of protein in the world and deliver a steady stream of energy, all naturally and all without sugar, caffeine, chemicals or stomach distress. Even better, ENERGYbits are the only protein in the world that also contain natural antioxidants and Omega 3 which reduce muscle inflammation, iron which prevents fatigue, chlorophyll which builds the immune system and electrolytes which replenish mineral imbalances, all for just one calorie per tab. No other protein offers all this.

ENERGYbits are all natural too, because they are a food, not a supplement. They have just one ingredient – 100% organically grown spirulina algae. Algae has been used by Olympic athletes for over 50 years, but is still virtually unknown in the USA and Canada. We are the first company to bring algae to national attention as a high protein, high performance snack food for athletes and active consumers.

I had a small sample (about two and a half servings), which I saved for the Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach half marathon I ran Labor Day weekend. I know they say nothing new on race day … but I was mostly treating this race as a training run, anyway. I’m not totally a stranger to spirulina, either.

Let me start off saying I didn’t plan properly for my pre-race breakfast (mistake #1). I forgot to pack something, and had hoped to find Larabars at the expo … and when that didn’t happen, I hoped Rite Aid would help me out. Nope. I settled on some peanuts and figured I’d grab a bagel at the start line. That’s close enough to my usual peanut butter sandwich.

I ate some peanuts and swallowed 30 ENERGYbits while I got ready to go. Since I needed more distance for marathon training, I left my hotel early enough to get in some miles before the race. I ran up and down the boardwalk, and stopped in a public restroom (yay! they’re open early!) before heading to the race start.  I felt great during my warm-up, and finished four miles by the time I got to the start line.

I had a little time left before I needed to line up, but I wasn’t feeling hungry. I decided not to seek out any more food (mistake #2), so I just walked around a little bit and headed over to the corrals.

I started out feeling OK, running a decent but not-to-fast pace. It was fine, I was planning on keeping this fairly easy. By the second mile, I decided I needed more fuel. I didn’t have any more bits with me, so I was fueled by my old standby Gu for the rest of the race.

And … I wish I could say that handful of bits I ate led me to a fabulous race … but, that’s not the case. The heat and humidity was rough that day, and I just couldn’t hold a good pace. I ended up walking through water stops in the second half, and finished in one of my slowest half marathon times in years. Not awesome, but looking at everything else that day, I can’t really blame that on the bits. I was asking a lot from those 30 calories!

I used the rest of my sample on a shorter workout day. Two days post-race, I had my bits for breakfast and hit the boardwalk for a run before we had to check out and drive home. I was starting my run on the late side (8:30am), and would be running in the sun. Oh, and of course I had a few beers the night before. I gave myself the option of an easy, slow run, three miles minimum.

But then I read the workout my friends would be doing on the track that evening. Eight minute warm up, then 2 minutes on at 5k pace, 2 minutes at recovery pace. Ten repeats total, 8 minute cool-down.

I decided I’d start that workout. Maybe I’d do five repeats. I did have a lot to deal with making this more difficult than it would be on the track at night — 79 degrees, 88% humidity, ocean wind, concrete path, and having to pass trucks emptying porta potties (several times)!

But I stuck with it, only cutting the cool down a little bit short when I hit an even 5.5 miles on the Garmin. My paces may been a little shy of my 5k pace, but the effort was there.  I felt great about sticking with it for that run!

Was it the ENERGYbits that gave me the power to push through that workout?

Nutritional Comparison Chart

Even with mixed results, I think I could really become a fan of ENERGYbits. I’m definitely interested in adding them to my diet, and will likely look into making a purchase. It’s a bit of an investment, but I think it’ll be worth it.

ENERGYbits are only available at, and Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he’d be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits – you can email him at

A lucky winner will get to try a sample of ENERGYbits for themselves. Enter below! (US, sorry International friends!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a free sample in exchange for my review. I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

review: enduropacks

A couple months ago, I was contacted by EnduroPacks, asking if I would be interested in testing out their products. I checked out their site, and it seemed like a great concept.  It’s a four-part system that includes a liquid multivitamin meant to be taken in the morning before workouts, amino acid patches to be used post workout, concentrated electrolyte spray used to mix a sport drink during exercise, and glutamine tablets taken before bed.


I always forget to take my multivitamins, and I’m sure I could benefit with some additional supplements with all I put my body through. I wanted to give it a try! I was sent a 30-day supply to test. It was perfect timing — I started taking them just before my 6-hour run, and had quite a few events lined up in the weeks that followed.

The four-part process actually made it a little easier for me to remember, though I did have a few days where I would miss a step. Still, I was much more successful than I usually have been with vitamins.



The multivitamin tasted OK, and most of the time I tolerated it well. A few times, though, it felt like it just didn’t sit right. I didn’t feel sick, just a little off. I think I just prefer tablet vitamins. There’s also the convenience factor. I had just finished my supply when I went out of town for a few days … but had I still been taking it, I wouldn’t have been able to bring it with me.

I always took it in the morning with breakfast, but during my trial I was working out at 6 a.m most days (yoga or swimming). I don’t eat before those workouts, so I wasn’t getting the vitamins until after a workout most of the time.

Amino Acid Patch


This is a sticker that you wear post workout. My instructions didn’t specify where to put it, but a newer version EnduroPacks will be using says to apply to the inner wrist or forearm. Oops! I put it on my stomach the first day, but it irritated my skin. After that, I used my less-sensitive butt, LOL. I’m not sure if that affected the efficiency of the product or not. I don’t think I would want to wear this on my arm, it looks like a nicotine patch!

Electrolyte Spray


I usually use a 20-ounce water bottle, so I made my mix with 10 sprays. It’s not sweet, and has a light lemony taste. I like it. For longer races, though, I would have to take Gatorade or whatever else they were serving if I needed to refill. And I couldn’t use it it for a 25K trail race when I carried my 70-ounce hydration pack (well, I could have, but would have used several days worth!). I did do a test on a 10-mile race where I carried the electrolyte drink and took only water at the aid stations, and I felt good.

Glutamine Tablets


Two tablets before bedtime wasn’t too hard to remember.  A little strange that the bottle says serving size one capsule yet the instructions say to take two. I took two.

The verdict?

In general (with or without supplements), I usually feel pretty good. It’s a little hard to judge. But I do definitely think the glutamine was doing its job. From the EnduroPacks website, glutamine:

Replenishes nitrogen loss due to intense muscle training and speed up recovery (so you can get back out there tomorrow!).

I was pretty much pain-free the day after my six-hour run (on an asphalt path!). I remember feeling pleasantly surprised as I casually walked down stairs the next day.  That was the event that stuck out the most. But I didn’t realize until my supply ran out that I had also been less sore after boot camp workouts as well.  Our instructor mixes up the workouts so much that even when going to class two or three times a week, I always can tell what muscles were used the next day or two!  My co-worker and I like to commiserate about what hurts after each class.  My soreness was a lot milder with the glutamine. Not gone completely … but just barely noticeable.

I liked the electrolytes too.  It tasted good and most likely wouldn’t cause any stomach issues, even if I did manage to replenish my supply during a longer event. It would be nice if this was available separately and/or in larger bottles so I could be hydrated for all my workouts. 20 ounces a day isn’t enough!

I’m not as sold on the vitamins and amino patch. The effect didn’t seem noticeable, and they weren’t the most convenient products to use.

It’s a bit of an investment to purchase EnduroPacks, and I’m not sure it’s the right fit for me. But it is a high-quality set of products, made with organic, gluten-free, vegetarian, non-GMO ingredients. That I can get behind.

I’ve got big plans for 2014 and want to make sure I give my body what it needs to fuel and recover from workouts. Despite the negatives, I may have to keep EnduroPacks on my list of products to consider.


Disclaimer:  I received a 30-day supply of EnduroPacks for free in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

review: zeebee threads

I was recently contacted by a representative from ZeeBee Threads to see if I would be interested in doing a review. I’m always on the lookout for new workout gear and great deals. Of course I’d write a review!

ZeeBee Threads stocks women’s casual and active wear, with nothing over $50. I sought out something I could wear now for summer training, and chose the Bamboo Performance Racerback Tank.

It turns out this was an Alo tank, probably a closeout / previous season item. That’s fine by me! The tank is a super soft bamboo blend (67% bamboo lyocell, 29% cotton bamboo).

I tried it out in yoga first. It is long and fitted, and stayed in place when I was upside-down. Awesome.

Next I wore it for a 10K race. It wasn’t too warm, but it was very humid. I was sweaty but comfortable!

Dawson's Father's Day 10K. Photo courtesy of Jon Valentine / Annapolis Striders
Dawson’s Father’s Day 10K. Photo courtesy of Jon Valentine / Annapolis Striders

I wore it again this morning on a steamy run in the Outer Banks. Since I’m on vacation, I didn’t feel like setting an alarm. While I woke up reasonably early, I didn’t get moving fast enough to beat the sun. Another humid day made for an extra sweaty run!

No, I did not jump in the canal. But I should have.

I’m definitely a fan of this top!

ZeeBee Threads has a lot more casual wear than active wear, and much of their active line isn’t wicking / performance, so read the description if you’re shopping for workout gear. But some of their casual stuff is cute, too!

Disclaimer:  I received this tank top for free in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.


meet ellie: my experience and review

Awhile back, I wrote about pvBody, a subscription service where you would get a top/bottom each month. The selection was random, though you could exchange/return anything that didn’t work for you. They promised big brands for big savings.

Well, you may have seen some chatter around the web about a drastic change to this program that started in February. Instead of a random selection of brands and no choice in what you got, they relaunched as a new clothing brand, Ellie.

This, of course, made people wonder. Was that the plan all along?

Well, I don’t know. It does seem a little suspicious, but I stayed despite the bad press. (Um, google “pv body scam” if you haven’t heard about them previously.)

Anyway … I decided to stick around and see what Ellie was all about. Yes, I was a pvBody ambassador, and I still am an Ellie ambassador … but I’m also a paying customer.

The experience has been less than perfect. Right after I promoted pvBody in my initial blog review, they said they experienced an influx of new customers and fell way behind on all orders. Communication was poor — I got most of my updates by reading customer complaints on their Facebook wall. My November order was so late it was apparently shipped just days before my December order.

It took over two weeks for that December order to arrive. But the November order never left the office. The Fedex label generated and I had a tracking number, but the package was never picked up. I sent several emails, only getting a couple form letters back that did not address my issues. I left a voice mail that was never returned. I only finally got help by reaching out to my ambassador contact, which is not a channel a normal customer would have to get their problems resolved.

But at least it is resolved now.  My missing pvBody clothes were replaced with my choice from the Ellie line. I also got some Ellie gear to test as an ambassador. All of it from the February collection.

I really liked the “Catch Me If You Can” top, and got it in both colors. I’m so glad I did! The shirt is so soft, and I love the thumb holes and built-in mittens!

elliegray ellieblue


I’m also a big fan of the bottoms I received. You can’t really see the “My New Obsession Legging” in the photo on the left, but they are awesome. They looked small, but are super stretchy, and the waist stayed put during a run. They also kept me warm on a really windy, chilly night. The only problem I had was they were too long, but at 5’3″, that’s not a new problem to me. (Though, surprisingly, running tights are often OK in length. Most people must find their tights are usually too short!)

I also got the “Kiss Me Capri.” While not the same stretchy material as the leggings, they’re still really soft and comfortable. I wore them to yoga last week and loved them.

Waist band detail

Of course, now that I’m happy with their products, it seems there’s  another hiccup in the Ellie brand. I didn’t order anything in March, but I’ve been notified that there have been delays in production of the March product line. Sigh.

Still, I’m not ready to give up on them. I’ll order from them again in the future and give them another shot.

So … I know this isn’t the most ringing endorsement, but if anybody is patient 🙂 and wants to give Ellie a try, there’s an ad in my sidebar you can click on to save 20%. (Ellie’s Fit Fashionista club gets you any two pieces for $49.95 regular price, shipped free.)


Disclaimer: I occasionally receive free products from Ellie as an ambassador. Opinions about the products and company are my own. I receive a commission when someone signs up through my link.

review and giveaway: sportline solo 965 heart rate monitor

Before the holidays, I was contacted by Sportline to see if I would like to do a review of a few of their latest fitness products. The Solo 965 Heart Rate Monitor caught my eye since I was interested in doing more heart-rate training. I currently have a Garmin 310XT that supports it, but it is really only good for outdoor workouts. I wouldn’t want to use it for fitness classes since it’s such a large watch.

Well … the review sample I got was a men’s version, so it’s still a bit clunky for me. They do make a women’s version which would likely be a better fit. I have really small wrists, so it probably wouldn’t be so bad on most women 🙂

From Sportline:

Solo 965 Heart Rate Monitor is the first fitness device with FitTrac and MoveTrac technologies and a built-in Calorie Genius (24 hour calorie burn tracking), is designed to track your resting heart rate over time and also record the intensity of movement 24 hours-a-day to show users how they are improving fitness condition and burning calories. Take your workouts to the next level.

Sounds good … but this watch wasn’t really what I was looking for when it comes to heart-rate training. It doesn’t use a chest strap. It relies on contact of the watch with your wrist along with placing your index finger on the front of the watch to take a reading. There is no real-time heart rate display without touching the face of the watch. When training, it won’t be easy to check heart rate while running. (In general, I had a hard time getting a heart rate reading, but I think it may have been due to the fit of the watch. When I did get readings, though, it was accurate.)

If you’re interested in monitoring resting heart rate, it would be good for that. “Fit Trac” mode tracks resting heart rate, and gives you a Fit Score noting the difference from day to day. You tap the screen to enter Fit Trac mode to record your resting heart rate each day.

That’s not really something I’m interested in right now … and actually, I found Fit Trac mode was a bit too sensitive. It didn’t only turn on with a tap to the screen. I’d find it would get triggered often as I was putting on the watch, or after I simply lift my arm to check the time. And once Fit Trac mode starts, it’s on for about 15 seconds while it waits to take your resting heart rate. Not convenient when checking the time!

In regular heart rate mode (just taking a reading), you can cancel out of it by hitting any of the buttons, but Fit Trac won’t cancel. You can also set a lock to keep the heart rate monitor from taking a reading accidentally … but again, this only works for regular readings. You can’t stop Fit Trac from turning on accidentally. It was a bit frustrating.

It wasn’t all bad. I really like the pedometer feature. Despite only entering my height, it was pretty accurate in most of my testing. I had to walk someplace that I knew was a mile and a half away, and it was exactly right. Running was pretty close too — I had it with me for my Ragnar Relay legs, though since I hadn’t tested running with it before, I just looped it to my hand-held water bottle and wore my Garmin. Despite not being on my wrist, two of the three runs recorded distance within a quarter mile, which I think is acceptable. One run it was about a mile short, though, but again I was carrying rather than wearing the watch.

The pedometer feature starts tracking once you’ve made 25 steps, so it won’t register unintentional movement. It counts calories burned based on your movements, and tracks the amount of time you’ve been active. Since I like to track per activity, like time  and distance running, this wasn’t quite as useful for me since I’d have to reset the rest of the day’s activity to isolate my run. If you’re looking to track movement and calorie burn for the entire day, it would be great.

So, this watch wasn’t quite right for me. But I can see how it would be useful. Think it might work for you?

Well, you can find out for yourself since I’m giving one away!

You’ll get one entry each for:

  • Leaving a comment telling me why you’d like to win.
  • Tweeting about this giveway. Something like “I want to win a @SportlineInc watch from @mostlyirun!  Read more:”  (leave a comment here to let me know)

US residents only. (Sorry international friends!)

I’m going to keep this contest open until February 9, with a winner drawn February 10. Good luck!

Find out more about Sportline by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I received this watch for free in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.