Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Favorite Bluetooth Wireless Headphones for Running

Since I started running in recent months, I've found several tools of the trade, so to speak, that have made my life on the road easier less unpleasant.  One of them is a good set of bluetooth wireless headphones.  I've  got a couple of pairs of wired headphones and they had great sound quality and worked well enough, but I was forever getting tangled in the cords, no matter what I did.  I usually tuck my phone into my jogging bra and my reading glasses hang from the front of my top, so the wires were making my running and walking life miserable.

Could wireless earbuds be the solution?  I'm no techie by any stretch and have to admit that the idea of bluetooth wireless headphones scared me just a bit.  I had never used bluetooth anything before and was afraid it would be too technical for me.  What was all this pairing stuff about?  Would I need to call my son 600 miles away and have him walk me through it?  Not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that I might not be able to figure out, I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to get a pair of bluetooth earbuds at a discount in exchange for an honest review on amazon.  I've since tried a couple of different models and they all worked equally well, with decent sound quality, so now I have one hanging on my treadmill and keep one in my running bag where I stash gum, reading glasses, snot rag bandana, and water bottle - ready to grab on my way out the door.

My new best running friend is the HV-930 Wireless Stereo Headset,  where the device is worn around the neck, completely out of the way.  The wires go the short distance from the receiver/neck piece to the ears, so there's nothing hanging down behind your head or in front of you to flop around or get tangled in anything.  They are very lightweight and I've worn them both walking and jogging on the treadmill and on the road a number of times, and even two recent 5K races, and they've performed perfectly.  The device doesn't bounce around the neck, it just sits flat against my collarbone, and it's so light that I don't even know it's there.

© Marie Anne St. Jean

I don't use any fancy music programs, just the Amazon Music app that's free with amazon prime, and my phone is nothing spectacular either (Android, Samsung Galaxy S4), but the app performs well with these headphones and the sound quality of these earbuds is pretty darned good.  The package includes the neck piece receiver with attached earbuds, extra earbud pads/covers of varying sizes, USB cable for charging, and instruction manual.  It was simple to pair the device by turning it on, going to settings on my phone, and selecting bluetooth, which found the headset and paired immediately.  Done and done.

Oh, another nice little feature of these bluetooth headphones is the earbuds are magnetic (not the side that goes into your ear ... duh), and they pop right into the ends of the receiver for storage when not in use.

Magnetic earbuds tucked into the receiver
© Marie Anne St. Jean

I honestly can't think of a thing that I'd change about this wireless headset, and was happy to give the product an honest 5-star review on amazon, not influenced by the fact that I was able to buy them at a discount.

~ Marie Anne

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Another 5K in the Books

I completed my second 5K on Saturday, my time being just a little slower than the previous week, but I did complete it, so it's still a win in my book.  It was a really small race, and in all honesty, I'm reluctant to really call it a race due to the size and lack of management, but I'll cover some tips for both race coordinators and participants in future posts.

Saturday's race was also on asphalt, and I'm still leery of doing too much running on hard surfaces, but once again, stretching and warming up really helped.  I didn't feel any shin or knee pain at all, but wasn't happy to see the small hills scattered through the course.  Still, adding hills give you a good workout, so even if I didn't get a personal best out of the deal, it got me out there and moving, and that's never a bad thing.

© Marie Anne St. Jean

After doing that 5K Saturday morning, I did another 5K on the treadmill later in the afternoon at an even slower pace.  I had a weekend L4L goal to meet (30,000 steps over the two days), and knew Sunday was going to be a little busier with church activities both morning and evening, so wanted to get more than halfway to goal on Saturday.  I made my goal and then some without compromising worship time, so calling the weekend a win all the way around.  I thank God each day for every step that I'm able to take; He deserves all the praise and glory.

There are lots more races coming up within driving distance, but I haven't narrowed down which I'll enter yet.  Money is always an issue so I need to be smart and choose those that I really want to do and which are worth the entry fee.  I probably should limit myself to one race per month, but will see how that plays out.

Lots of ideas for future blog posts, so stick around!  As I mentioned in my opener, I'm anxious to cover some race tips for both runners and coordinators, to help their race be a better experience for all.  I'll also be doing some product reviews for fitness gear and tech stuff that I really like, and would love to hear about your favorites too.

~ Marie Anne

Thursday, April 21, 2016

To run, or not to run

© Marie Anne St. Jean

So ... guess who's graduated to running again in the last few months?  This crazy ol' grandmother, that's who!  I'm not running far nor fast, but I have worked up to be able to do a 5K without stopping to walk, and that's quite an accomplishment for me!

I've dropped about 25 lbs since the first of the year, and it's definitely made a difference in being able to put one foot in front of the other.  I still have a good ways to go, but am confident that eating right and continuing to walk and run daily will get me there.

I had a bit of a scare after getting the results of my bone scan a couple of weeks ago.  I've been walking forever and had started running some weeks before, but knowing that my Vitamin D level is still low and I've already had the insufficiency fracture in my right tibia several years ago, I asked if we could do a bone density test to see just how bad it was before I stepped off to do much more running and risk another injury.

The results weren't pretty.  My spine is worse than my back, but I definitely have osteoporosis with radiologist reporting "high risk for fracture".  Hooo boy, now what do I do?  I freaked out for a bit, figuring this had me sidelined yet again.  It hurt to run on the road, but I'm ok on the treadmill, so after talking with my physical therapist, we decided it was ok to continue what I'm doing, as long as I pay close attention and stop if I feel pain.  So far, so good, and I even ran my first 5K last Saturday!

Since it was on a paved bike trail, I wasn't sure if I would be able to run the whole thing, so I prayed about it before heading out, and just hoped to beat 45 minutes total, even if I had to walk part of it. Well I surprised myself ... I DID run the whole thing, felt NO pain in shins or knees, with a finish time of 39:18 - I couldn't believe it!  That's an average 12:40 mile/4.73 mph pace, which is the fastest I've ever done, even on the treadmill.  After cooling down, I went back and manned a water station for the half marathoners, and jogged up and down a short patch of trail for probably another mile, then jogged the last 1.5 mile in with a friend who did the half.  I'm happy enough that I made it and in a good time for me, but the biggest praise is that there was no injury.  Thank you, Jesus!

© Marie Anne St. Jean

So ... I'm going to continue to march run and do what I can until my body says otherwise.  Because of the pain/time involved in getting back from the injury several years ago, I have to be really careful and pay attention for signs that I've done enough, but as long as I slow down or stop when that happens, I should be good.

Osteoporosis or no, I'm not ready to hang up my sneakers just yet.

~ Marie Anne

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