Thanks iFitness Customer Service

Jul 9, 2012 by

Thanks iFitness Customer Service

iFitness Hydration Belt

A while back, I wrote a review about a hydration belt by iFitness that I was using.  In that post, I mentioned the bottles leaked.  For whatever reason, it never occurred to me to contact iFitness and talk to them.  Fortunately, they eventually saw my post and contacted me.  Within a couple of days, I had new bottles that were designed to prevent the leaks I had mentioned.  Apparently they had addressed this problem, but some old style bottles still made it out to market.

I’m happy to report the new bottles work much better – no leaks. The new bottles top no longer have a pop-up spout.  You just turn up the bottle and suck in.

So, thanks, iFitness.  I now give the product an A rating.

You can read the old review here:

Here’s a picture of the differences in the bottle tops:

Comparison of Old Cap and New Cap










Also, here’s a reminder:  Still a little bit of time left to enter the drawing for a pair of Injinji socks.  Follow this link to learn more:


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Product Review: iFitness Hydration Belt

Apr 25, 2012 by

Product Review: iFitness Hydration Belt

The week before the Columbia Marathon, I had a couple of dilemmas.   The biggest, of course, was my playlist, and I wrote a lengthy post on that.  The second problem was how to carry all the junk I had decided I needed to carry for the race – 3 gels, a water bottle, car keys, and my iPhone (I’ll explain later).  Car keys could be handled by the drop bag station, if I wanted, so I wasn’t too worried about those, but I wanted to carry the others.

Before that race, my running gear inventory consisted of 2 different belts.  The first is a thin belt from Nathan with a small pocket just big enough for a cell phone or a couple of gels but probably not both.  I bought it at the race expo before the 2011 Myrtle Beach Marathon and used it in that race for my gels (Gu’s at that time).

My other belt is an older 6 bottle Fuel Belt with a pouch that could hold a couple of gels and has a wide enough belt for you to clip a cell phone on if you’d like.  I was leaning toward this, but wasn’t really excited because it really doesn’t fit well any more.  I’ve lost a few inches around the waist since I bought it, and it uses Velcro to fasten. To get it tight enough to not slip, I don’t have much connecting Velcro. More than once the belt has come loose during training runs.

So, what to do?  The answer came to me at the race expo the night before the race.  A vendor was selling the iFitness Hydation Belt.  I tried it on, liked it, and bought one of the 16 oz versions for $40.  The 16oz version means two 8oz bottles.

From the iFitness web site here are the belt features:

  • Water resistant pouch, stretchy and sturdy, made of neoprene will keep your cell phone or iPod (any size) dry.
  • Two 8oz  bottles (BPA free)
  • elastic slots will hold your gels on your belt, for easy access.
  • A special inner pocket will keep your ID/credit cards or room key securely.
  • Comes with two reflector strips in the front and one in the back, for night time safety.
  • Also featured are two toggles to hold your race number, under the pouch.
  • Comes in TWO sizes: Small/Med (26 to 38in comfortable). Large (30in and 42in).

Here is my experience:


Overall, I am pleased with the belt.  It fits really well ( the pocket is right below your belly button), is comfortable,  and does not move around while running.  The belt really feels a part of you, not some something bulky hanging off. The fastener is a clip and much better than Velcro.  I like the angle of the bottles and the “formed” bottle holders make it easy to insert the bottles with one hand.  My Fuel Belt is a two hand operation with its soft elastic bottle spots.

I did not try to use the race bib holder feature.  I tried it the night before the marathon but did not like the way the bib hung, so I just pinned the bib to my shirt.


Con 1: My bottles leak too often and my pants and shirt end up wet.  I usually clip my iPod Nano near the bottle as well, and I don’t want that wet.  I usually have to undo and redo the cap and really torque it down to get the leak to stop (or maybe it stops when the water level is lower), but I shouldn’t have to work that hard for a leak free bottle. For the marathon, I only used one bottle.  I wanted to have my own bottle of water to use my Nuun electrolyte tablets.  I’d refill it along the way with either cups of water from the volunteers or I’d hit the water cooler behind the volunteer tables.  I used the other bottle holder for my iPhone.  It fit nice and snug in there.

Con 2: The pocket does not hold as much as I had hoped.  Part of the trade off for snug, I guess.  If you loaded it before wearing the belt, you can probably cram more in, but I was only able to put two gels and my key fab (sans key) in it.

Why did I not use the gel holders?  Con 3: My gels would not fit in the gel holders.  My smaller Gu gel packets would have, but I switched to Accel gels.  Their packet is wider and would not work. Maybe I could have really crammed them in there, but I was afraid of busting the package. Luckily, my friend Craig was working the miles 2/15 aid station and had my third gel waiting for me.

Overall, I’d give the belt a B+.  Had it been $30 or the bottles didn’t leak, I’d give it an A.

Editor Update 7/9/2012: iFitness read this review in late June and contacted me.  Apparently, they had redesigned the bottles to prevent the leaking I mentioned above, but some old style bottles were still out there.  They sent me two new bottles.  I have tried them several times now, and I’m happy to report they are leak free and I am happy with them.  They no longer have the pop-up top. Instead, they are “hands free” – just tilt up and suck in.  Not sure what this style top is called.   I now give the belt an A. Here’s a picture of the two different caps:

Comparison of Old Top and New Top


PS – About that iPhone…

I used an iPod Nano for my tunes, so why did I carry the iPhone? Answer: I activated the Find My iPhone feature so my family could track my progress during the run.  This worked OK for about two-thirds of the race then it lost the signal and never picked it up again.  Next time I am going to try one of the run tracking apps that sends emails during the race.


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Newton Shoes Update

Feb 29, 2012 by

Newton Shoes Update

Last summer, I wrote a post called Newton Shoe Hunt 2011. I was on a quest to improve my running form and had decided to try Newtons.  I wanted less heel to toe drop but wasn’t ready to go minimalist for long distance training.

Most casual runners have not even heard of Newton shoes and they have very limited distribution in my area.  Once people hear about them, many are turned off by the price – $125-175, depending on the model. After some research, I saw that many people were getting very high mileage out of their Newtons.  So, if you looked at shoe cost in price per mile, then they might be comparable to “regular” $90-100 shoes.  I drove to Charlotte and bought a pair.

My 2011 Newtons

Fast forward now 6 months and 550 miles later on my 2011 Newton Gravitas (or Gravity) shoes.  I have been very satisfied with them.  I’ve had almost no pains with these shoes. Until the Newtons, I’d never been able to run long distances in a neutral shoe, due to arch pains.  Even in the stability shoes I had, I’d occasionally get IT band soreness. And let’s not mention the metatarsal pains of the last marathon training period.   However,  deep into this marathon training cycle, I was starting to feel new minor aches and pains, particularly in my knees and left arch (curse you, my nemesis).

I’d seen this before, and it usually meant time for new shoes.  However, I was also at the peak of training miles, having strung together 4 consecutive high mileage weeks.  So, was it over training or the shoes?  With just a couple of weeks to go before my marathon, I did not want to change shoes, but I did still have just enough time to order another pair of Newtons and log some miles in them before the race, if I absolutely had to.

So, what to do?  I decided to email Newton’s customer service to explain my new pains and ask if, at 550 miles, was it time for new shoes? I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but what happened surprised and delighted me.  Within an hour of my email (on a Friday afternoon, no less) I had a real response from a real person.  He asked me to send pictures of the soles of my shoes.  They wanted to see the wear. Wow.  Had not expected that.   So, that night I took several pictures of the shoes and sent them off.  Unfortunately, it was too late Friday night by the time I sent them, and I did not hear from them until Monday morning.  Here was the response:


 Thanks for sending the photos over-

 Your wear looks pretty good, and even. I think you’ve still got a bit of mileage left in your Gravity’s. if you’ve got arch pain, think about lifting from the hip flexors, and core rather than pushing off as  you go to take your next stride. This should help to minimize the increased pressure on the arch region.

 Hope this helps and best of luck with your marathon training.



Wow.  They could have easily told me it was time to get new shoes, and I would have listened.  Instead, I’ll save my money for now, and I have peace of mind that my shoes are still good for the marathon.  I do plan on buying another pair of Newtons sometime this year. As an added bonus, the running form tip seems to be working!

For additional information on Newton, check out their website at

They also provide a wealth of information on better running form.  Start here for that information:


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Product Review: Okeeffe’s

Feb 19, 2012 by

Product Review: Okeeffe’s

Being a long distance runner has had some interesting effects on my body.  The good has been weight loss (~18 lbs) and waist reduction (2-3″).  The bad has been a few nagging injuries, mostly self-inflicted due to to over training.  Finally, the ugly has been my feet and hands.

Feet, you may have expected, but hands?  Yep.  I’ve always had fairly dry skin, and winter is always tough on my hands.  My old hobby of Jeep tinkering didn’t help, getting oil and grime on my hands then scrubbing them with harsh cleaners.  But in summer of 2010, I starting have a strange problem with my hands.  After long training runs of 2+ hours, the skin on my finger tips would peel off within a couple of hours.  My first theory was some sort of reaction to the Gu gels that I would take during these runs.  So, I quit using Gu and experimented with other stuff.  That seemed to work at first, but eventually the condition  kicked back in, and I’d try some other gel.  When winter came along, in addition to the peeling, I’d get splitting and cracking fingers, not just from running long distances, but just from general use during cold dry winter weather.

So, what was going on?  At one of my trips to the doc (probably in regards to a foot problem), I mentioned the peeling skin problem of my fingers.  He asked if my feet were cracking, too.  They were.  So, the doc tested my thyroid.  The results came back low, so he put me on a test run of thyroid medicine.  The skin issues didn’t clear up.  Once the test run was up, my thyroid levels were fine, but the skin issues persisted.

I have come to the conclusion that the root of the problem was dehydration and stress caused by long runs.  So, I am trying to hydrate better, and the heart rate training regimen I’ve adopted has reduced body stress.

I also have discovered a product that does a wonderful job preventing the peeling and cracking fingers.  It is called O’Keeffe’s Working Hands.  You can find it at Lowe’s of all places and is around $8.  This is a hand cream that feels more waxy than creamy.  The product works to keep moisture in your skin, unlike traditional oil-based lotions that repel moisture.  Here’s the description from their website: One of the unique features about O’Keeffe’s is what’s not in the formulation. We are not an oil-based product because of one simply reason – oil repels moisture. If your skin is dry, cracked or split you need to hydrate your skin. We use glycerin as primary ingredient that does a much better job of drawing moisture in and allowing your skin to heal from the bottom layer up. So I can use it as a moisturizer? Absolutely – though just remember O’Keeffe’s products are quite concentrated. If you are using O’Keeffe’s as a moisturizer, you probably will find that a little goes a long way.

When i first started using it, I applied a bit after each time I washed my hands.  In about two days, the skin was clear and some small cuts were cleared up.  Now, I usually use it before bed and occasionally during the day when the humidity is low and I can feel dry fingertips coming on. I keep a jar on my desk at work and on my night stand.

O’Keeffe’s makes a product specifically for feet as well.  One common foot issue for runners is cracked heels, and I’m no exception.  I have been using this, and it does pretty well there, too.  It has not worked as fast as the hand product, though, because I do no apply it as often.  Lowe’s does not carry this one.  I bought it at a local drug store.  You can click here to locate these products in your area.  Retail is $7.99.



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