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We all love the freedom of running outside — being in nature, covering entire cities on foot — but sometimes our outside runs don’t quite look like freedom. While I suspect none of us would choose running inside over a glorious park on a 50º day, sometimes the treadmill makes more sense. Maybe you have …
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featured image courtesy of Indy Women’s Half Marathon, ©2019. Look at that hotty, #12! It’s happened to all of us: you’re having a great run and about an hour in, there’s a bit of a stinging situation. You tug your shorts down, adjust the waistband, try to scoot a seam. But you know already: they’re …
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It was one of our more philosophical discussions: if a crotch sweats on some pricey running shorts but you weren’t there to see it, and then you buy those same shorts for a very low price on eBay, did the crotch sweat ever really happen? What if you wash the sweated-on shorts twice before you …
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featured image courtesy of Indy Women’s Half Marathon, ©2019. Look at that hotty, #12! It’s happened to all of us: you’re having a great run and about an hour in, there’s a bit of a stinging situation. You tug your shorts down, adjust the waistband, try to scoot a seam. But you know already: they’re …
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It was one of our more philosophical discussions: if a crotch sweats on some pricey running shorts but you weren’t there to see it, and then you buy those same shorts for a very low price on eBay, did the crotch sweat ever really happen? What if you wash the sweated-on shorts twice before you …
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This review is in partnership with Rockay, which provided products for testing.

Rockay is a new kid on the block in the running apparel world, and is using fabric made from recycled materials to create two products, the Accelerate socks and calf compression sleeves. Their accelerate socks retail for $14.95 and come in several colorways.

Like many runners, I can be picky when it comes to my socks. No squinching in my shoes or bunching up around my toes, please! They have to be thick enough, but not too thick, and they absolutely must fit over the collar of my shoes. I do like fun socks that look good, but comfort and performance are the queens of the sock department.

How does the Accelerate stack up?

I have a drawer full of socks, but of course have my favorites. I generally reach for the Darn Tough brand but I run in a wide range, from New Balance to Feetures! to Balega. I like a sock that is thin, but warm, which is especially important in winter here in New England. I don’t generally run in compression socks so I look for a sock that’s comfortable, keeps my feet toasty, and if possible, looks good.

Out of the Package

When I opened the Accelerates, I felt like I had entered the world of fancy running gear. I’ve certainly never purchased socks with a snazzier package. The stark black packaging is sharp, and I was impressed by the lack of tags puncturing the socks, which can pre-create the possibility of holes. I also noticed the “Guaranteed for Life” statement on the back – socks with a lifetime warrantee are the holy grail of the running world!

Notable about this company are their efforts use environmentally sustainable materials in their products. These socks are 66% polyamide (from ocean plastic), 30% organic merino wool, and 4% elastane. They are aiming to “produce the best running products the world has seen while helping to save our planet from the destructive and environmentally damaging path that it is currently on.” Noble and ambitious!

I don’t expect socks to change my life; they are socks, after all. But a well-documented struggle with plantar fasciitis means I am always on the lookout for socks with great arch support, and Rockay definitely features that, highlighting the sideways-ribbed arches (read: extra-huggy) of their socks in the contrast color, in my case, bright yellow. When I put them on, they felt really good. Not too snug, but you can notice that little extra support through the arch of the foot. That can’t be a bad thing! These Accelerate socks feel great on my feet!

I’ve worn the socks for runs of 4-6 miles and also to the gym. Once I put them on I really didn’t think about them, which is exactly what you want from athletic socks. They are cut low, below the ankle, which, combined with their snazzy colorways means they blend well with any outfit. Best of all, I’ve worn them in weather as cold as 25 degrees and my feet didn’t get cold. Because they have an anti-stink coating, Rockay says you can hang them up without washing them, but I wasn’t willing to test that feature out. So far they hold up great in the laundry and look brand new even after having been worn several times. One of the true tests of sock quality is how they hold up over time. There’s no way to find that out in just a few weeks, but that lifetime guarantee is promising!

Rockay is clearly pushing the envelope by using more sustainable materials and creating a product concept that appeals to customers’ needs on every level. Not only do I like these socks, I like the philosophy behind these socks. Sure, at $14.95 a pair they aren’t cheap, but the cost is comparable to other high-quality athletic socks, and when you combine the extra support, a lifetime guarantee, overall comfort, and the responsible sourcing of materials, the Accelerate running sock is worth it. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a runner or just want to treat your feet, go for some Rockay Accelerate socks. You’ll love them!

5 out of 5 snails for Rockay Accelerate socks!

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I am a picky-ass mofo when it comes to running shorts. Historically I have only run in compression shorts because everything else leads to the dreaded chub-rub. Even with compression shorts, I have been known to try on 15 pairs and still leave the store empty-handed because nothing fits right. I still run in an ancient pair that I keep patching because the company that made them went out of business.

So when I opened my surprise product review package from Salty Running and found shorts I thought, oh crap. My first chance to review something and I am going to have to write about how I don’t like the product! I received three pairs of Cabrillo Mariposa trail shorts – two size M and one size L – and when I tried them on, the size Ms fit and the L was too big.

I decided to try the Cabrillos at the gym first, figuring that was a lot safer than trying to run in them. They felt amazing. It was a hot day and it was great to get more ventilation than my usual compression gear. Furthermore, not five minutes into our training session, Tough Guy Trainer noticed I had new shorts. He loved them! We don’t talk a lot of fashion, but he thought the shorts looked great and he wanted to know if they made them for men (they do!). The shorts were great to lift in – nothing constricted and no extra fabric getting in the way.

It happened to be my daughter’s field day and it was so hot that I figured I’d just shower later. I had brought something to change into, but the Cabrillo’s were so comfortable that I just left them on. I helped six different grade levels manage a water relay event

and the shorts were super, even after getting a little damp. Snarky Girl also noticed the shorts right off the bat. Her comment was more direct: Those shorts make your ass look great!

After the big success at the gym and field day, it was time for the true test: running in the shorts. To be honest, I was still really skeptical because all previous attempts at running in non-compression gear had resulted in chub-rub disaster. I decided to them on an easy 4 miler, just in case. Knock me over with a feather: the shorts were great, zero chub-rub. I tried them on a somewhat longer outing: totally fine. Finally I was brave enough to try them on a long run: magnificent! Over the summer, these became my favorite shorts, the ones you wash first so they are clean when you want them, i.e. always.

In fact, I love these shorts so much that I ran my goal marathon in them. Here’s me getting a BQ in my Cabrillos. I remain a picky-ass mofo in the shorts department; these are just great shorts.

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As runners, maybe we just can’t help but be uncomfortable. After all, racing is an exercise is being uncomfortable.

So when my sports chiropractor came out with a new myofascial release tool … I was in.

I went by his office, Kentucky Sports Chiropractic, for a demonstration and explanation of this new torture device, which looks like a therapy band with four golf ball halves attached.

Launched about six months ago, Dr. Kyle Bowling created the CTM Band to improve on tools already on the market. It stands for “compression, tension, movement” — the three things required for actual myofascial release.

Backtracking a bit, self myofascial release is the technical term for when you’re using a foam roller, stick roller, lacrosse ball or compression band. Your fascia connects your muscles and tissues and can get “bunched up” if you will. These release techniques are designed to help relieve the pressure points and smooth things back out.

But, Kyle says, it’s a bit like Goldilocks.

“When I ask people what treatment they’ve been doing at home, they frequently say they’ve been using these tools but they just can’t quite get in the right spot,” he said.

And, research has shown that you need compression, tension and movement simultaneously to affect a response in the tissue. That combination is nearly impossible to achieve on your own with existing tools.

Kyle, a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and former collegiate runner, was inspired to bring several tools together.

“Floss bands are great, but there’s still that feeling of wishing you could get a little bit deeper,” he said. “I started first with stealing my kids’ little bouncy balls and gluing them to attach them to a band.”

In essence, the CTM Band combines flossing and lacrosse ball techniques into one device.

And then he assembles it in his basement.

Really.

“There’s that 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. window after the kids have gone to bed where I go downstairs and assemble them,” he said. In February, he and his wife welcomed their third child. Basically, the man does not sleep.

“There will come a point where I can’t keep up with assembling them at home,” Kyle said.

That time may come sooner rather than later. The CTM Band has already shipped to 37 states and 12 countries, with the likes of Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir using it. Several other elite runners use it, as well as three DI running programs. Oh, and a few NFL teams and some professional motocross riders too.

“Our current model is best for extremities,” Kyle said. “Plantar fasciitis, foot pain, runners knee, calves, quads, hamstrings, shin splints …”

But in addition to all the common running problem areas, the CTM Band also works well on the arms — shoulders and elbows in particular.

Each band comes with four removable attachments. How many you use depends on the body part, although I’d recommend two as a good starting point (one if using on your feet). Situate the attachments so they apply pressure where you feel like you need it, then wrap the band tightly around the attachments and around your leg or arm. Tight!

“We’re using it as a very short-term tourniquet so your body will send a rush of blood to the area when it’s removed,” Kyle said. A good reminder to not exceed the two-minute mark with the CTM Band on one area!

Of course, the band requires an educational component, so Kyle has created online videos to provide instruction.

And, while many of us think of myofascial release as something to do after we run, Kyle advocates using the CTM Band to warm up.

“Many of the injuries we get are from not warming up properly — doing too much too soon,” he said. “We can prepare these areas for the repetitive motion of running by using the CTM Band first.”

And before you say you don’t have time …

“Two minutes is the target time per body part,” Kyle said. “Stimulating blood flow, loosening up connective tissues, and taking them through a range of motion is a really good pre-run routine.”

When I told Kyle my idea of warming up was walking down the stairs and out the door, he suggested I simply put the CTM Band on before walking down the stairs. Genius!

I have been using the band mostly on my calves and it really helps loosen them up before I run. I’ve also used it on my hamstrings and quads, which I find a little trickier to position but also very effective. I ran a trail half marathon that beat my quads up and using the CTM Band before running the next day made a huge difference — I only used it on the worse of the two legs and regretted not using it on both because I could tell such a difference.

“Compression, tension, movement — if we have those three things simultaneously, we can truly cause a release in the tissue,” Kyle says.

Would you try it? What’s your favorite torture tool for post-run recovery?

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This review is in partnership with Running Warehouse, which provided products for testing. Salty Running receives a commission on sales made via our Running Warehouse affiliate link, used throughout this post.

At first glance, I thought the Altra Duo was not the right shoe for me. Altra has long been a champion of the zero heel-toe drop, which I have always been skeptical about. I tend to prefer low-profile, highly responsive shoes, and the Duo’s thick sole is anything but low profile!

Still, Altra bills the Duo as having a “more natural ride,” meaning, presumably, more natural than other high-cushion shoes. Could marrying zero drop with a heavy cushion allow us to reap the benefits of both features? Zero drop without sacrificing comfort, and lots of cushion without sacrificing lightness or “road feel”?

If less is more, can more be more too? I decided to try the Altra Duo and find out.

History

I’m a lightweight neutral shoe gal through and through, and I prefer a shoe that really hugs the arch. I ran in the Mizuno Wave Rider for years, after Mizuno started using a firmer material for their soles. Then I switched to the Brooks Launch as my main running shoe. The Saucony Kinvara and Brooks Pureflow are also in my rotation.

As a midfoot striker with naturally average pronation, I can run in almost any neutral shoe. What it really comes down to is one supremely important criterion: It has to look good with my work clothes. Yes, I also wear my running shoes at work. That means I’ll be standing on these shoes for 11-14 hours a day as a camera operator on the set of a television show shooting in locations all over New York City. Often, I’ll run to work in Shoe A of my current rotation, then switch to Shoe B for work purposes, and the next day run in Shoe B and wear Shoe A for work.

In other words, I wear the HELL out of my shoes. Eventually I can only wear them if I don’t mind my toes poking out. So the Altra Duo’s supercushiony soles have a lot of appeal!

Related: Want tips for getting more mileage out of your running shoes? Check out this post!

Out of the Package

Having worn most of my running shoes into swiss cheese with paper-thin soles, I was really excited to open the Altra box the moment it arrived at my door from Running Warehouse. I didn’t know what to think when I saw those gigantic soles – to me they looked like moon shoes! I immediately shared a picture with some other Salty writers to gauge their response. To my surprise, they all thought the shoes were really cool-looking and someone even described them as looking fast. I was convinced running in them would feel like I had rocks tied to my feet.

Once I got them on, any concerns I had about the fat soles melted away. They aren’t nearly as responsive as I’m used to, but the Duos are lighter than any of my go-to models. Weighing in at just 7.1 ounces, these babies might look like a minivan but they feel like a sport coupe!

Even though Altra advertises a wider toebox, and I prefer a “huggy” shoe, I never felt like I had too much room. My toes had lots of room to wiggle, but I was able to adjust the laces to make the fit through my arches as snug or as loose as I liked. And oh boy, do they feel bouncy! While you don’t have to sacrifice added weight for cushioning, you’ll never forget which shoes you’re wearing in the Duo because they feel like you’re running on the moon.

I gotta say, even though I had my doubts about the Duo, I instantly felt a lot of appreciation for this shoe when I put it on! The best words I have to describe how they feel while running are “comfy” and “fun.” And it sure helps that Running Warehouse sent me the dark purple model – they look fantastic with my stage blacks!

Overall Experience

I wore these shoes for short mid-pace runs (3-5 miles), a few long runs (8-12 miles), and as an experiment I ran a half marathon in them. Yes, if you’re curious, I also spent a few 14 hour work days in them. I did not wear them for any speed work or on the track. I just did not feel like they were appropriate for speed work. They’re awesome on pavement and on long runs.

The cushiony feeling is unavoidably awesome 90% of the time! This is especially true because they aren’t heavy. I don’t love them for trails, but that could be different for someone else who is less concerned with feeling her running surface. The fact that the Duos’ squishy feeling held up over long hours on my feet at work is nothing short of phenomenal – any shoe gets uncomfortable after hour 10, but these really hold up better than anything I’ve had before. The clouds Altra is mining to make these soles are made of sturdy stuff.

But is the Altra Duo a racing shoe? I put in a very solid effort at the half marathon I ran in them, and I didn’t once feel clunky or weighed down. I don’t think I will race in them again, but any runner who demands a lot of cushioning in her shoes will likely be very impressed by the Duo’s fast feel and have a great experience racing in them at any distance, especially if you struggle with less-cushioned lightweight shoes.

Why do they feel so fast? I had a hard time pinning it down, but my guess is the zero drop.

I did notice that my arches seem to work harder in these shoes. They remind me in a way of an old pair of MBTs (real moon shoes!) I wore years ago — my feet are just begging for a lacrosse ball massage any time I wear them. I’m not sure if it’s the zero drop or if it’s my foot fighting to bend with all that cushion beneath it.

My Take

I love my Duos! I want another pair! But to be honest, I don’t think they’re the right running shoe for me. I will wear them all day long at my job and love them to pieces, but when I’m running I want to feel at least a little bit of road under my feet. I think if I try Altra’s lower-profile shoe the Solstice (reviewed here by Catnip), I’ll find something a little more to my taste.

Still, I think these are incredible running shoes! If you want or need plenty of cushion underfoot you will love them. If you’re used to thick-soled shoes and are looking for a faster, lighter racing shoe you will love them. If you just want to treat your feet to a nice day in the clouds you will really really really love them!

5 out of 5 snails for the Altra Duo!

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This review is in partnership with Running Warehouse, which provided products for testing. Salty Running receives a commission on sales made via our Running Warehouse affiliate link, used throughout this post.

Dainty. That was my first thought on opening the box of Altra’s new racing flat, the Vanish-R. So dainty, in fact, that I found myself hoping these would work because they would make it so much easier to pack a carry-on. I was so excited to try these shoes, I immediately took them out for a test run.

The results were mixed, but bottom line: this is a lightning fast shoe. I like it. A lot.

History

When I started running, I ran in a neutral shoe and even tried some of the heavier cushioned shoes with good results. Once I transitioned from roads to trails and ultra running, however, I found that I preferred more minimal shoes that allowed me to really feel the trail. During my last break, I even started building up mileage (very gradually) barefoot on one run a week to build foot strength, maxing at 3 miles. This preparation meant I was ready for the minimal Vanish-R’s, although I still run in the HOKA Speed Instinct 2’s for longer runs.

Overall Experience

True to their name, the Altra Vanish-R virtually disappears on your foot and in your suitcase. It weighs 4.5 ounces, so basically nothing. The upper is light and well-ventilated, while the sole is flexible without lacking structure. While I couldn’t care less about how my running shoes look (the only area of my life where function supercedes fashion), these look cool too, and I really like how the shoes look with leggings – the lower profile fits better with my longer tights. Out of the box, I was sold.

I started the run in socks, but quickly realized that the Vanish-R’s upper is designed as a sock; the extra bulk of actual socks made running uncomfortable. I took off my socks to finish my run, and immediately was able to feel how responsive and agile the shoes were to the terrain. I run a lot on tarmac, and even with the thin(ner) sole, I felt like my foot was protected from glass or rocks.

These shoes truly shine on the trails. I feel like I’m dancing over the trails, as the shoe and my foot meld together to leap over rocks and down scree-filled hills. Better yet, as I ran, I felt fast – and that is a great feeling, especially as I am coming back from three months off and feel slow and sluggish in general.

My Take

Unfortunately, although I adore these shoes, they are not made for feet like mine, specifically because my second toe is longer than my big toe. From the first run, the second toe on my right foot started to blister, and finally bled through the top of the shoe. Since the left shoe fit well and my left foot is slightly smaller than the right, I think it’s possible that I just needed a bigger size (I normally run in 9’s and these were 9’s), but then I would have lost some of the responsiveness I felt in the shoe. I loved how I ran in these shoes, but the bruised and bleeding toe meant I had to retire them.

Even though they won’t work for me, they are an amazing shoe that I would recommend to anyone looking for a zero-drop, light, responsive shoe. Just try them first and make sure the fit works for your feet.

I award the Altra Vanish-R 5 out of 5 Snails!

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