Gaiam Restore Total Body Massage Roller Review

Foam Rollers, Massagers and your Health

Running consecutively over time provides some pretty nice wear and tear on your body. As a runner, you should actively seek out new ways to heal and respect your body to keep it functioning like a well oiled machine. If you have not seen our article Runners and Foam Rollers, Why Every Runner Should Have One you should check it out and learn why foam rollars are essential to the longevity of serious runners. 

The foam roller is a simple and perfect tool that uses your own bodyweight to massage out tight spots that devlelop over time from muscles tearing and rebuilding. Sometimes a foam roller is not a practical item to carry around especially when traveling. The Gaiam Restore Total Body Massage Roller is the perfect "to go" roller for your muscles. I recently purchased this niftly little device at Modells a week ago for about $20 and I am pleasantly suprised on the value of this product. Here is what I like about the Gaiam Foam Roller

Features and Benefits

Compact and easy to put in a running bag -  The product is about a foot long and very easy to handle. The two grips have rubber grooves and bumps that enable a firm grip and reduce the chance of the roller from slipping in your hand during use. It pretty much can be stored anywhere you can imagine. I keep it near my bed so I can make sure I use the roller often.

Effectively relives tight muscles while increasing circulation - For a small piece of plastic you would be suprised at how effictive it is in loosening up your muscles. I have found that it is especially effective in loosening your quads and calves and really makes your legs feel fresh after using for about 15 minutes. Your hamstrings are a little tougher to roll out as it's awkward to reach that part of your leg with the handle positioning.

Four individual grooved massagers - For the price point, this product is very sturdy and seems like it will last a while. (will update you if it breaks of course!) There are four rotating hard plastic massagers on metal rod that work out the kinks in your legs as your roll up and down.

Overall for $20 this is a must have product for any runner serious about keeping their leg muscles at maximum performance. I still believe a traditional foam roller is more effective and practical for serious runners, but this little gadget is a good tool in your arsenal.

You can order the Gaiam Restore Total Body Massage Roller on Amazon

Vegan Vanilla Cocoa Almond Milk

Vegan Breakfast Drink: Vanilla Cocoa Almond Milk!

Before adopting a plant based eating lifestyle I always loved chocolate milk as an energy boosting treat. One morning I woke and was craving a cold cocoa beverage and realized how simple it would be to create a vegan version of chocolate milk. The recipe is simple, inexpensive and the ingredient measurements can be increased or reduced depending on how sweet or tart you like your chocolately beverage. To limit my sugar intake, I chose the unsweetened version of almond breeze but feel free to use the sweetened if that is your cup of tea!

Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: $.50
Time: 1 minutes
Serves: 2

1.5 cups Vanilla Almond Breeze (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 tablespoonts Chatfields All Natural Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon Wholesome Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar

1.Pour two cups Cocoa Powder into a cup. 
2. Mix in 1.5 cups of Vanilla Almond Breeze.
3. Add two tablespoons of raw can sugar
4. Mix, refrigerate overnight and shake well. 

Let us know your twist on Vegan Chocolate Milk in the comments section!

Perfect your Run this Spring

I’ll begin this post with patience. We all get sucked into running too much on those fantastic spring days, going out because friends are, or to try and keep up with Strava! Often we sign up for a race, or get overly inspired by the weather, and run too fast, too far, too soon. This is not conducive to injury-free running. What is? Patience. Only add on mileage when your previous week felt good, and only add a little (maybe 5 more miles to your total week, or a few minutes added onto each daily run). Even if you walk an extra mile at the end of each run, that will eventually lead to your ability to run farther. Be patient, fitness will come in time.

That leads me to consistency. Before you can run a ton of injury-free miles, you need to be consistent with your running. If you are able to run 5-7 days a week without pain, and without feeling drained by the end of the week, then mileage can be added. Too many people skip weekly runs, just to hammer out way too many miles on the weekend. This isn’t sustainable in the long run. It is good to have days and even weeks off, but not every weekday, leading to a major catch up on the weekend. 

Now onto recovery. I often have a training cycle, which for me means, I run 2 or 3 weeks adding in mileage-followed by one “off” week. For example, if I run 75 miles week 1 then I will run 80 miles week two, 85 miles week three, and (depending on how hard I ran those miles) 30-50 miles on week 4.  In each of those weeks I also work in some easy days. If Monday I run 16 miles hard, then Tuesday I may just jog or even walk and jog 5 miles. That Tuesday is my recovery day, so I let my body dictate how far I will go by feel. I also put food under recovery because it helps our bodies recover. I like to make a smoothie with whole foods after my runs, my standard is frozen berries, frozen banana, coconut milk, juice, ginger, cinnamon, spirulina, avocado and some greens. I think eating a lot of whole foods, and still having your favorite indulgence once and awhile is key.

A strong core, good posture, and correct form are also important to stay uninjured when ramping up your mileage. As we get tired, our gait tends to become sloppy, and a sloppy gait is a recipe for disaster. Planks, single leg squats, and bridges are just a few of the core exercises I try to do on my workout days. For me, a correct gait is standing tall with a neutral pelvis, landing mid foot, and letting my heel softly touch before push off. This can also be called “natural” running. 

Finally there is love, or drive, or determination, or whatever you want to call it. There has to be a reason you are getting your shoes on to get out there and run. Without it, there can be no consistency or patience, or really any injury-free mileage gains. If you are out there grinding out miles and not having any fun, you will sabotage yourself. This is also why flexibility is important. Cycling, swimming, pilates, barre, yoga… help your fitness. Be flexible and allow yourself to try other types of workouts. Perhaps you are stuck in a rut, or the weather is just terrible..don’t force the run day in and day out. Try something new, allow yourself to really miss running when you aren’t training for something specific and feeling a slump coming on.

I hope this inspires you to get out there and go further than you have in the past! Happy Spring!

Rachel Bell Kelley loves to explore new trails and new vegan foods. With her background in landscape painting she is drawn to, and inspired by, the beauty of the outdoors. She can often be found running with her husband, friends, and favorite trail dog, Emmit. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and her blog Trail Wisp(erings).

Top Apps for Runners

This is a guest contribution from Jared Harris.

Running helps reduce stress. This is something you probably already know, and it may be a big reason you run on a regular basis. When I started running on a regular basis, stress reduction was a big reason behind doing so. But this activity can be tedious, and sometimes it can be hard to get a sense of progress and carrying around a pen and paper to track how you're doing is inconvenient.

Fortunately, there are mobile apps that can help you to track progress, have fun, see new routes, and more. As mobile devices become more prevalent, I'm sure there will only be more running apps released in the future. And because our mobile devices can cause a lot of stress (like having to deal with constant emails, texts, tweets, etc.), I thought I'd list some good stress-reducing running apps.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies have taken over pop culture, so why not include the undead in your jog? This story-based running app was co-created with award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman. Working via your phone's GPS, the app tracks your progress as you run from hordes of zombies, giving you instructions along the way. Just like a "real" zombie chase, if you speed up, you'll put more distance between you and the creatures, but if you slow down...well, you can guess what that means. It's $3.99 for Android and iPhone.


This intuitive, convenient app lets you map out your routes, log how far you've gone, keep track of your current/average pace, and compare your previous runs. You can also log your goals and track your progress in regard to speed, distance, weight loss, or total miles. Plus, this one's free, and it's available on Android and iPhone.


Ghost Race

No, it's not an app that lets you run from spooky ghosts. But here's what it can do: encourage you to hit the goal you've been wanting. The "Ghost" the title refers to is yourself. Here's how it works: you pick a distance or pace you want to hit and then you train against the ghost. Compare your current and previous performances and receive audio cues of your progress.

This one's $.99 and is only available on iPhone, though there is a free, less robust version.

S Health

You don't always have to download apps to phones from a store. That's why I've chosen to mention S Health: because it comes with a phone (the current Galaxy S4 and the soon-coming Galaxy S5). According to Verizon Wireless, you can "use S Health to track your steps, challenge friends, earn badges and get on-demand healthy eating advice." The social aspects of the app can help you stay motivated and committed to your runs while competing against your friends or just other runners who use the app in the area.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, because there are more and more of these kinds of apps being released on a regular basis. But these are a few ideas to get you started if you've never tried out a running app before.

Have you ever used any running apps? If so, which one is your favorite?

Jared Harris is a 20-something online writer who tends to tackle topics within the worlds of fitness, technology, and gaming. He often finds a way to make sure those three subjects cross paths in his work.

Skratch Labs joins #VegRunChat this Sunday

Thanks everyone for directing your attention here this week as we get the final touches complete on the new #VegRunChat site. Actually, the site is taking a little longer than expected due to some added last-minute features. But we believe you'll be very happy with the final product. That's right, we're saving a few surprises for the final launch. So stay tuned..

{Update: The site is complete! Follow the link above after you enter the giveaway.}


On #VegRunChat this week we'll be talking about "all-natural" hydration. Sure, Gatorade is technically vegan and vegetarian, and it offers loads of electrolytes (something we athletes need). But, does anyone actually like the taste of that stuff? Even more important, can you pronounce all of their ingredients (some which have been in the news recently)?

Hydration is vital to our performance in much the same way as food. And combining natural plant-based foods with water can replenish your body quicker than ever. This is why we're excited to have Skratch Labs joining us. They make hydration not only effective, but tasty!

"With just a hint of sweetness it's flavored with only real fruit and contains no artificial sweeteners, coloring agents or preservatives. That means it has everything you need and nothing you don't. The result is a simple and clean taste that you'll actually enjoy drinking." - Skratch Labs

Chat starts at 9pm ET Sunday night on Twitter. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and we will be sure to help.


This Sunday we welcome Skratch Labs to their first ever #VegRunChat. With an assortment of all-natural hydration mixes, Skratch Labs has become a go-to resource for athletes looking to improve performance. And why shouldn't they? The founder of Skratch Labs himself is a sports science doctor who has coached a number of world class athletes.

How they started...

Seeing a need for a natural sports drink that actually tasted good (and athletes would drink without watering it down), Dr Lim got busy in his kitchen blending various formulas. I'd say he got it right - when demand grew beyond his inner circle of athletes, Dr. Lim partnered with a group of close friends to launch Skratch Labs in Boulder, Colorado. Today, Skratch Labs offers a variety of hydration mixes, athletic gear, and recipe books.

Visit their site to learn more!


Are you ready to try Skratch Labs hydration for yourself? If so, you're in luck. This week they're giving away three different giveaway prizes:

~ Assorted Drink Mix Singles

~ Waterproof Phone Bag with Drink Mix Singles and Stickers

~ Skratch Labs Cookbook and Drink Mix Combo

To get your name in the hat for one of these awesome prizes, simply use the widget below. All participants must reside in the U.S. and be present during Sunday's chat. Remember to come back each day for multiple entries, and better chances of winning. See you all Sunday!

Skratch Labs Giveaway

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