Coach Carrie’s “Best of” or “Coolest Stuff” at the The Running Event 2014

Crazy cat ladies attend cat expos, car fanatics attend car shows, landscape architects attend nursery/landscape expos, and fitness professionals attend The Running Event. It’s yet one more reason why Austin is the coolest city in the world. The Running Event is a business-to-business conference and expo that takes place in Austin the first week of December. Most of the major shoe companies, apparel companies, watch companies, gadget inventors, nutrition experts, and anything else you can think of in the running world, come together at the convention center to network, make an impression, and do some business. These companies meet with retailers in hopes of wooing the owners/managers, getting new orders, and receiving some coveted shelf space. I have to say, in a world dominated by increased internet sales and on-line shopping, it’s pretty refreshing to see some good ‘ol fashioned face-to-face interaction and sales pitches. People still need to make a connection with their potential audience. Products still need to be in stores to be seen. New products are being invented and older products are being improved. Just when you think there’s no more innovation in the shoe or apparel industry, think again. The Running Event encourages you to ask yourself, “What will they think of next?”

I was fortunate enough to spend one full day walking the floor as a media representative. While I’m not necessarily an influencer for rack space, I am an avid consumer who is interested in learning about the newest products for both the athletes I coach and the myriad athletes I address in reviews, columns, seminars, and clinics. I had set up a couple of appointments in advance, but spent most of the day walking up and down the aisles of the hundreds of exhibitors waiting for something or someone to catch my eye or engage me in conversation. I’m no DC Rainmaker or Aaron Hersh of Triathlete Magazine. I’m a typical age-group athlete that loves new stuff that will either enhance my multi-sport experience or improve my training times and efficiencies. I’m not one to give in-depth reviews as much as I am my honest (often humorous) impression. I’ll leave the in-depth technical reviews to those smart dudes and chicks who can figure it out and then communicate it effectively.

It’s been a week since the Expo and I’m sitting here reflecting on those businesses that made an impression. There were so many great products, but a few resonated with me on a personal level because they either sparked a laugh, more curiosity, or a connection with the key players. Are they the next greatest thing that you simply can’t live without? Who knows?! They are, however, my picks for ingenuity and authenticity.

OOFOS:

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As I told the creators and staff at the booth: “It’s like a nap for my feet.” (PS- the pedicure was a serendipitous coincidence. I had no idea I’d be trying on these shoes. You should’ve seen my snaggle toes two days prior. You’re welcome). You know that feeling when you go to a hotel and the pillows and bed feel like heaven as soon as you lie down? That’s how it felt when I slipped these babies on. They were ridiculously comfortable. My first impression was, “Shoes that look like Crocs.” Uh no. They had amazing arch support and, as the staff said, “You have to try them on to really believe how good they can feel.” At first I thought of practical uses like basic shower or pool shoes, but I’ve already been using them as everyday-wear (yes- flip flops in December!) and also around the house, especially on our hardwood and concrete floors. I highly recommend also for post-run recovery as well.

Here is the link to their retailer locations or their on-line store.

 

BFF 2.0 Miracle Body Buffer

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Yep, this product definitely wins the award for booth that made me laugh the loudest and booth I wanted to stay at the longest. I mean, seriously, how often do you walk by and have someone stop and ask if you want to get buffed??? I’m in!! Perfect for both pre-workout activation/blood flow and post-workout recovery, the BFF (yeah it is my new BFF) felt great and was ingenious. Hell, it even has attachments for moisturizing and exfoliating unwanted hair. Lucky for expo attendees, I had shaved my legs that morning and didn’t need to have hair buffed off my legs. (Not to mention- I had my trepidations about that after attempting to use that crazy epilady product back in the 80s. I still have some emotional scarring from that pain!)

It’s a brand new product and I certainly wish them well in their endeavor for keeping people in the Buff! Here is a link to their online store.

Even Jeff Galloway is an affiliate.

 

GLUKOS:

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Several things intrigued me about this booth and product. First of all, I was able to meet the Founder of the company, Mark Jensen, and hear his story first-hand. He took valuable time to talk about his days as a Nike guy and now his passion for running and triathlon. Like many of us, he was looking for sustainable energy that didn’t include all of the artificial crap (my technical word) we’ve all grown used to; you know, the stuff that upsets our stomachs and actually slows us down on long training and race days.

Here is Mark Jensen’s story. He is the everyman athlete obsessed with the best possible equipment and fuel for the best possible performance. He and the CEO, Mick McCormick, explained it as simply as possible to my non-scientific brain. Glucose is the only fuel that drives our body as it is immediately absorbed and easily digestible. When you get an IV, it has water, glucose and electrolytes. That is the type of product they set out to create.

Also, as they said, we talked about the differences between good/bad sugars with comparison to good/bad oils. Our culture is obsessed with going “sugar free” and that’s great as it pertains to artificial sugars, high fructose corn syrup and the like. However, as an endurance athlete, you must know that your body needs fuel. That fuel is glucose. Choose wisely. Choose natural. Choose healthy.

Glukos has :

No Artificial Sweeteners
No High Fructose Corn Syrup
No Caffeine
No Artificial Preservatives, Color, Additives
No Sucrose
Gluten Free
Dairy Free
Soy Free and Vegan

For more information and their online store, click HERE.

BSX Insight:

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Needless to say, the “big thing” this year are fitness trackers. Watch companies and designers alike are creating devices to track sleep quality, amount of steps, HR, pacing, etc. all in an affordable and stylish package. I’ve been wearing my Garmin products long enough that I’m used to basically wearing a PC on my wrist. I don’t necessarily need a slick daily device. I love the information I glean from my 910XT. There was one product I saw, however,  that may be a game changer in the “performance enhancement” category.

THE WORLD’S FIRST WEARABLE LACTATE THRESHOLD SENSOR. The potential impact of this to the everyday athlete is huge, although I suspect the first target audience will be Type-A triathletes who want as much data as they can possibly get to enhance their training.  As their headline reads, “Knowing your limits is exactly how you exceed them.” Until now, knowing your lactate threshold involved exhausting and expensive laboratory tests and blood draws. Not anymore.

The BSXInsight is a small device that fits into a customized calf sleeve. Every 6-8 weeks you can administer your own tests using one of their three devices: running ($299.99), cycling ($369.99) or multisport ($419.99). Simply place the BSXinsight piece (a small unobtrusive device) into the calf sleeve, use the app to pair it with your device, run the test exactly how it is outlined on the mobile app, and then review your results immediately. The multisport edition measures both running and cycling lactate thresholds to determine your training zones based on power (ANT+) and/or heart rate (ANT+).  According to their website, you can use the results to customize workouts based on your personal lactate dynamics, fitness goals and future events. You can benchmark your fitness, optimize your training and track your gains over time. And you can share your data with coaches and training partners, or send it to all your devices for anytime access. They recommend retesting every 6-8 weeks during training to measure fitness gains and progress.

The quick product demo and overview at the booth looked simple enough, even for this non-techie. The product, which is taking pre-orders now, has been receiving a lot of press and, according to staff, accuracy compared to traditional lactate testing is close to 100%.

I’m certainly intrigued to try it for myself and see how it can improve my training efficiencies. I’m also personally curious to see how well the results match up to tests I’ve had in the past. Needless to say, a one-time cost of $419.99 is much more economical than regular costly laboratory tests and blood draws.

(Plus, it was hard to ignore their “Stop the Pricks” promotional shirts and buttons)

 

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