Allbirds wool runners review

I have a Nike Free problem…?

So. I’m pretty addicted to Nike Free Runners. I wear them everyday at home and for walking and errand running. I also wear them to work sometimes. I’ve been wearing them since 2006 and I have no idea what number I’m on…my 14th pair? I don’t know. It’s possible.

I started with the black uppers with white soles.

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The OG Nike Free colorway

But I kind of need to mix it up.

I’ve had neon orange, teal with black soles and laces, crazy stripes and dots, and a few pairs of black on black. My current pair is on its way out, and I’m a little sad at the idea of buying the exact same pair of Frees for the third time in a row…that’s a rut, right? I’m really interested in the VaporMax, but I have a hard time with the 2hundo price tag. And I’m not sure how they’ll work with work clothes…so I’ve been stuck for a month.

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Grass shoes, training shoes, life shoes

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Nike Vapormax Flyknit 2

 

But what about those Allbirds, tho?

Then I remembered Allbirds. They’re basically Nike frees with wool uppers. So sneakers, but ones you could definitely pull off at work. Same price point. Expensive for a non-serious sneaker, but justifiable if you wear them every damned day like I do.

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Allbirds look like this

I’m feeling like I need to mix it up in pretty much every way lately, so instead of a black or grey (which to me look kind of nerdy in Allbirds) I went for a bright color. All teal. Woot!

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Teal Allbirds Wool Runners

Allbirds, are you my new friends?

They showed up in custom boxes that are pretty cute. But that’s neither here nor there…I wear a size 9 or 9.5 in sneakers, and their site recommended I order a 9. They were snug, which the Allbirds site also said was normal; wool stretches. But I didn’t like the feeling of my toes being right at the front of the shoe, so I ordered some 10s. The 10s felt a little too big, I couldn’t see myself wearing teal shoes with…well…anything. And I really hated how I could see my toes moving around in the shoe. The wool is kind of flat and low and tight across the tops of your toes, no toe box, more like a sock or something. And it just creeped me out. It felt like wearing a shirt with no bra and nipping out. I don’t know. I’m a weirdo, but I wasn’t feeling it. No toe nipple situation for me. 

Nope.

I sent them back. And I am currently still waffling between trying the pricey (but probably way more durable) VaporMax or ordering my third pair in a row of black on black Nike Free Runners…

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My ride or dies. Which are dying.

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Current version

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Nike Free Run Commuters

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Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit 2

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Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit MOC 2

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Same thing but with HOT PINK!!! SQUEE!

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#2017GoalsAF

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This is a running calendar I bought last year, by I Love To Run. You’re supposed to just X off each day that you ran. And right in the middle it says “You either ran today or you didn’t.” Super simple. Love the idea. Just like Seinfeld and his red Xs on writing days. You either did the thing that gets you what you said you want or you didn’t. You’re either moving towards what you want or you’re not. Do or do not. There is no try.

And there’s nothing like seeing the entire year laid out for you, with the evidence of your effort or lack thereof, for some honesty.

My calendar from last year is pretty pathetic. 55 runs. And it’s filled with many, MANY blank weeks. Vast stretches of nothingness. Now, I didn’t record every workout. Towards the end of the year I started to use a horizontal mark to indicate that I had done some kind of strength training or barre workout. But even if I had been recording those the whole year, it wouldn’t have changed the truth of the year.

The truth of the year was that I didn’t run much. The truth of the year is that there were huge expanses of time when I wasn’t doing anything to work toward my fitness and body goals. The truth of the year was my body was still recovering from carrying a child: my hip hurt, and my lower back got fatigued really quickly, even from walking. I had no core strength anymore to support that back or those hips. And it still felt like all of my organs were going to fall out of my body when I ran or tried to do a jumping jack. And I also had a 1 year old in day care, getting all of the day care colds, which I got, and then combined with allergies to form chronic sinus infections (yay! so cool! you should totally try them!) which meant I was sick for half the year, too.

So I had to take a step back (from where my ego thought I should be) and start where I actually was. Which is completely unAmerican and blows, and was NOT “run most of the days!” I had to do short, easy workouts, and focus on consistency instead of intensity. I did Betty Rocker’s MakeFat Cry challenge, which is all 15 minute workouts. I did the 21 Day Fix workouts, which are around 30 minutes long. (And they were really hard for me! And that made me super sad!) I did one or two segments of barre videos instead of hour long classes. I walked the dog because I couldn’t really run. It was a year of being a beginner even though I’ve been working out for almost 30 years. ARGH! SUCKS!

But you know what? It’s a year later. And now I can run. And now I can go back to bootcamp. And now I can really start building back up to where I was. It’s possible now. And now I can do jumping jacks without feeling like my organs are going to fall out onto the floor. (At least not, like, ALL of them.) And even though I didn’t lose “the baby weight” and actually gained ten pounds on the keto diet (what in the ever loving fuck, right?), I learned from that too. And I’ve pivoted, and I’m losing weight, and I’m probably pretty damn close to knowing exactly how to eat (for me) because now I’ve officially Tried All Of The Things.

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This is my calendar for 2017. It’s blank and I’m excited. I know it’s going to be “better” than last year. And I also know last year WASN’T a failure, because despite the lack of running days, I really did make progress. Invisible, annoying, base-level building progress, but progress nonetheless. And you have to go through progress before you can get to fitness, and you have to go through fitness before you can get to buffness. Which totally sucks and if I was in charge, you would lose 30 pounds every time you ran 3 miles. But I’m not in charge, so 1. progress 2. fitness 3. buffness is the only path there is. ONWARD!

I hope you have a big goal. And have figured out the exact things you need to do to get there. And I hope you get a big calendar. And use it. But I also hope you are kind to yourself, and acknowledge all of the work that happens along the way, you BADASS MOTHER BITCHES!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Aaptiv App Review (aka Skyfit)

Over the last year, you probably saw ads on your socials for a running app called Skyfit that touted itself as “SoulCycle for running.” Well, I tried it out for you and you’re welcome.

What is Aaptiv?

A crappy new name for Skyfit. It’s supposed to be a combination of the words app, adaptive, and active, which it is, but that doesn’t make it a good name. Maybe there was a trademark issue. Maybe they got bought and had to change it. I don’t know, but I mourn their loss. Anyway.

AAPTIV/ The App Formerly Known As Skyfit is an app that gives you a list of running (treadmill and outdoor), strength, eliptical, cycling, and yoga audio workouts. You can filter the workouts by difficulty (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and duration, which is great.

They call(ed) themselves “SoulCycle for running” because the workouts are a music bed/ playlist and a trainer narrating the workout, guiding you throughout (form notes, motivation, form tips, etc.) and sometimes giving you extra motivation tidbits like cueing you to think about a word of the workout or a specific goal. I’m sure SoulCycle is more woo woo / intense than that, but whatever. Great elevator pitch. I bought it.

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Is it just audio, then?

Yep. Just audio. No video of the moves or even photos. Which is fine if you know basic moves (Have you done a burpee? You’re good.) and also takes up less space on your phone and less data on your plan.

Does that work?

Yeah. For the most part. HOWEVER, in the strength training workouts, some of the trainers are not very good at describing moves, and some (the same ones) are not good at setting up the workout in a brief, clear way. At all. It gets really verbose, and then annoying, because this person is still talking and stumbling over her words and the warm up is over and you still don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. It might actually only be one trainer who’s not so great at the talky talk…I should pay attention to who she is so I stop doing her workouts…

The rest of the trainers are fine. Clear. Fairly motivating. Completely adequate.

One weird thing is once you do one of the workouts, you can’t access it again for a week. I guess that’s to make it feel like studio classes or something? Fleeting? In-the moment? Ever-changing? There are plenty of workouts, though, so it’s not a big deal. And they change them out and add new ones.

They also have monthly challenges and 10k, 1/2 marathon, etc. training programs. For example, in December they had a challenge that was a list of mini strength training workouts (about 13 minutes long) you could squeeze in say, in your in-law’s basement between coffee and the beginning of the day’s activities. Some days I did one. Some days I did three back to back. It was just nice to have something to follow so I felt like I got at least a little bit of a real workout in.

What’s good about it?

I like Aaaptiv because I want to run more often, and it makes going for runs easier and more enjoyable. I like that there’s someone telling me what to do, because usually a run (or any unguided workout) is just 20-40 minutes of me fighting the voice in my head that says  “meh…I feel heavy…meh…I don’t wanna…meh…let’s go eat Quest Bars and stare at a wall instead.” With Aaptiv, there’s a trainer’s voice blocking out the bad voice-in-my-head-voice. And I mostly obey the trainer, because even though it’s a pretend recording, I’m a nice midwestern girl, and I don’t want to disappoint the nice lady or man who’s just trying to help me have a good run.

And am I going to maintain a faster-than-jog pace for three minutes (or ever) without a trainer telling me to do it? Hell no.

It also makes just the idea of going for a run less of a THING, because I just press a button and the decisions are made for me. And it makes me feel like I’m running with someone. It even feels a little bit like running with a group. It’s nice. It works. I like it.

Here are three sweaty, red-faced pics from right after Aaaptiv runs that show how I felt after doing them: Alive, sweaty, and somewhat accomplished.

Do the treadmill workouts suck?

Nope. I did one on a treadmill in a basement, with nothing to look at but a shelf full of books and knickknacks, and I felt plenty engaged. Probably because it was all Britney and Xtina songs on that workout, and I love terrible music, but still. Words and music fill your brain hole just as well as, if not better than TV while you’re running.

How are the other ones? The strength and yoga and whatnot?

AAPTIV’S STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUTS are body weight workouts. So basically circuits of lunges, squats, planks, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees…stuff like that. They’re all simple. And some of them are SUPER simple. Like, so simple that I say out loud, repeatedly, “I fucking paid you to tell me to alternate squats and lunges for 20 minutes?” But, you know what? I’m not going to spend 20 minutes doing just squats and lunges WITHOUT someone telling me to do them, so yeah, I guess I do have to pay for exactly that.

AAPTIV’S YOGA WORKOUTS: I’ve only done one yoga workout, but it was fine. I think I might like audio only even better than yoga videos. Maybe.

ELIPTICAL and CYCLE:  Can’t speak to those. I don’t have an eliptical machine, stationary bike, or a gym membership, and spin is not something I enjoy a ton. I may have said I like it in the past, but if I did, I was lying to myself and the world. It’s awkward and uncomfortable in most of the ways and people just need to admit that already.

How much?

Free 7 day trial, then $10 a month, $35 for 3 months, or $50 for a year. When I signed up a few months back, I got a year for $40. Current plans are here:  https://www.aaptiv.com/signup

So, yes or no?

Yes. It’s a step above “just going out for a run” or “just doing some planks and push ups for a minute.” You’ll get a better workout in, even if it’s a 15 minute one. And having someone with you, even if it’s a recording of a trainer with one of those annoying sexy baby raspy voices, gives you a little bit of the peer pressure/ class effect: you’ll push yourself a little bit harder than if you were completely on your own.

New Balance x J.Crew

J. Crew now has a workout wear line, in collaboration with New Balance.

  1. Because, of course.
  2. Because everybody else has one and they’re the only two brands left.
  3. Because NB makes retro 80s preppy runners that J.Crew does sell, so it’s actually a totally organic pairing.

Real talk?  J.Crew having a workout wear line is funny, and don’t think I’m not going to call their shit out for it. There has never been a single muscle on a single female model in all of J.Crew, and the preferred workout program of the waif prep schooler is anorexia/bulimia, not Crossfit or even barre. Maybe her mom went to a barre class once, but she joked the whole time about how she needed a martini to get through it. Yes, I know J.Crew is an aspirational brand that true East Coast Wasp folk with Old Money and Important Art don’t really shop, but I’m a middle class girl from the midwest, so that’s as far as my actual knowledge of/ignorant assumptions about true prep go.

Deep breath. Focus. OK. J.Crew x NB. Let’s seewhatchagot.

Highlights/ Actually Useful Sport Pieces

1. Seamless Hoodie 2. Softshell Jacket (Practical, cool, athleisureness.) 3. Perfect Tank Top (Love the thick stripe, perfectly sea-preppy.) 3. Performance Color Block Leggings (Get the blue and orange, not the blue and grey b/c they’ll chop you off and make you look thicker in the thigh.) 4. Polka Dot Running Short (So cute they look like PJs.)

And the Ehhhhhhh, not so much-es.

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1. Seamless Capri Leggings (pro: they’d be super comfortable. con: they come in three shades of hell no, super unflattering if you have any bumps and also they will show all of the butt sweat.) 2. Performance Capris in Color Block Polka Dot (Light grey? For the back panel? That’s not gonna work. For an-y-body.)

That’s it. I don’t have time to go through it all. Overall: it’s brand-appropriate in style, patterns and colorways. But none of it is anything you can’t find anywhere else. Conclusion: they’ve checked the obligatory “we have a fitness line now” box, it all makes sense for them, but it didn’t push anything, and it’s definitely not a “holy shit did you see what J.Crew did in fitness???” Which is kind of a shame because I think there’s a lot of potential there… I have ideas….call me Jenna. 😉

 

Athleta Pretend Shopping Spree

Hey there.  Sorry I’ve been MIA. It’s because:

1. I haven’t been shopping much because day care is really fucking expensive. Like, more than my post-grad education-expensive. Not kidding. #americawehaveaproblem

2. I’ve been busy working because, see 1.

3. I haven’t been working out because I HAVE HAD A STUPID SINUS INFECTION FOR OVER HALF THE YEAR. No joke. You know how you feel when you have half a cold, and aren’t really snotting all over anymore, but your head is full of pudding and you can’t think straight and you also feel like someone is sucking 70% of your life force out of you at all times? That’s me. Most of this year. It’s not cool.

I have, however, become a Ketonian, which I’d love to tell you about, and will, soon, but not now. More important? Fall fitness fashion.

Pretend shopping spree at Athleta:

You KNOW I love me some Athleta. I’m wearing Chaturanga Capris and the Daily Tank right now, with my murdered-out Nike Frees.

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So for this fall, Athleta is introducing some Shapey/Supporty stuff called Sculptek. But I don’t care. At least not right now.

What I do care about is:

The HIGH NECK STRIPE CHI TANK because it’s basically what I’m already wearing, but in a cute stripe. If I had to uniform it for the rest of my life, I would have to just admit that it’s tunics and leggings for me. Has been since I was 13.

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The SCOUT SLIP ON BY DR. SCHOLLSNEW WAVE BY OBTB, and SODA JOGGER BY ASH because when I commute to the city for an on-site gig, I have to walk a mile from the train station to the office, hauling a computer. And that’s when shit gets real. Gotta have #cuteworkshoes

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THE ANYTIME BRA because when I’m not working on-site, I’m usually athelisure-style because it’s still sweltering here and even walking the dog equals sweating. And sweating in a real bra is GROSS.

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THE LASER MESH SONAR CAPRI because I’m kind of low on pants that really stay up, and I’m trying to start running again. And they’re fucking cool. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-9-00-30-am

THE CIRCUIT CAPRI because they seem even more serious about their “not fall down” nature with their elastic topped high-rise waistband.screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-9-01-52-am

 

THE LEA WEDGE BY SOREL because they were my clients, and I love them, and that boot is awesomely rugged/ rustic/ and futuristic at the same time. Oh, and waterproof. (See city walking needs above.)

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And of course, the GLEAM TIGHT 2.0 and SUEDE  because let’s be honest, unless I’m going to the city I’m probably not wearing pants. Half the time. At least. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-9-08-27-am

HAPPY FALL FASHION SEASON!

Oh, and I went to Luluelmon yesterday and peeked around. They have what look like could be some powerful running tights, but they’ve jacked up their prices again, so I just said WELL FUCK YOOOOOU, THEN and walked out. $150 for running tights, guys. That’s like, five minutes of day care. Too expensive.

Pretend Shopping Spree: Reebok

Like I said in my previous article about Reebok, I have a lot of respect for this funky, gritty, true to itself brand. They’re doing great work right now. And they’re making some great looking workout wear. For to enjoy: Reebok.

1. Combat Bralette $60 2. CrossFit High Impact Bra $70 3. Reebok X Tristan Eaton Collage Tight $65  4. Dance Shattered Glam Tight $55  5. Cardio Woven Jacket $110  6. Reebok X Face Stockholm $50

VSX X JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS

Holy shit. This is truly outrageous.

Victoria’s Secret Sport has a line of sports bras based on Jem and the Holograms.

I mean, they might not KNOW that they did it. But they totally did it.

I introduce to you the “Incredible” by Victoria’s Secret sports bra.

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RIGHT??????

But wait. There’s more!!!

PIZAZZZ!

 

SYNERGY!

 

KIMBER!

 

Of course, my fitstyle is more

JETTA!

But whatever.

Thank you VSX for that surprising bit of joy I had trying on sports bras yesterday.

 

 

NEW NIKE FREES!

Ohhhhh SNNNAAAAAP! Nike’s got some new additions to the Nike Free fam. They’re called the Nike Free RN Distance (RN = Running) and Nike Free RN Commuter. (I am a huge fan of Nike Frees. They’re like wearing slippers, they’re one of the few Nikes that don’t have a pointy narrow toe box, and I wear them all day, every day. I only take them off when I have to wear “real” shoes or when I run or train. And when I train, I usually wear Nike Free TRs, WHICH ARE ALSO GREAT!)

Nike Free RN Distance Distance! So, probably cushioning that doesn’t break down as quickly as the typical Nike Frees. And probably a wee bit of support. SOLD! Oh wait. There’s no solid black. UNSOLD! Bummer.  Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.36.59 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.35.53 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.36.16 AM

Nike Free RN CMTR What does “commuter” mean? It means that the upper is totally flat-packable so you can throw it in your work bag when you need to switch to your office-appropriates. Which in itself is kind of sad, right? Dudes wear sneakers to work all the time and it is not seen as sloppy at all. I’m going to make an effort to make sneakers work with my work clothes. #genderequality y’all. Oh, they do have CMTRs for men, too. I guess the other benefit is not taking up as much space in your gym bag. Sigh. Schlepping a gym bag. That makes me sad too. I love having a home gym.

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So, after all that, what did I buy?

My 8th? 9th? 10th? I lost count pair of Nike Free Runs. Mostly because they come in BLACK ON BLACK!!! right now. I love black soles. I love black laces. I love Nike Frees.

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Side note: What the fuck with the rest of the colors, Nike? The white on white is cool if you’re into white shoes. But the rest of them…Are you purposely making ugly basic colorways so we have to pay more to Nike ID a pair that actually looks cool? Not cool, bro. But thank you for finally making black on black! I’ll buy 1-2 pairs a year, forever.

 

Current obsession: Short sleeved sweatshirts

Ever since I saw those two short sleeved men’s Nike sweatshirts in January, I’m all about it. I don’t own one, but I really want one. Even though I kind of suspect you have to be a string bean to really rock one the right way…We shall see. We shallllll seeeeee…

Oh, and I did try #2 from Everlane, but it didn’t fall right on me. It hit at the hip and folded instead of hanging/ swinging.

  1. L.L.Bean 2. Everlane 3. Kanye West for A.P.C. 4. J.Crew 5.Nike 6. Everlane 7. Nike      8. Nike 9. Adidas by Stella McCartney 10. Adidas