odds and ends from a life under construction

Review: November Stridebox

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I love subscription boxes. It’s like getting a treat in the mail every month that you never have to think about. I’ve scaled back recently to just the handful of boxes that I really value, and Stridebox made the cut. Stridebox is a subscription box filled with a sampling of products and discounts for runners and endurance athletes. For $15 a month, you get a wide sampling of products – from snacks to fuel to shoelaces to lotions and lip balm. Stridebox also throws in some treats of their own – things like motivational stickers or a water bottle. Compared to retail pricing, I’ve found it to be a great deal, and it has allowed me to try out things I might not have noticed on the shelf at my running store. Here’s what came this month.


The box itself is relatively small – smaller than a shoebox – and everything is neatly packed inside. On top is a card with a motivational image and the back of the card lists out the month’s products. Retail prices are listed for each item so you can make sure you’re getting a good deal, and the brands also typically include a coupon code so if you like the product you can order more at a discount. The benefits add up when you find a product you like.


The gifts from Stridebox this month were a “Keep Calm and Run On” sticker – the perfect size for my laptop, phone or dayplanner – and a little light. The light can be clipped to clothes or, more likely, your shoe so you can run at night or in the dark winter mornings more safely. I have a headlamp to run with when it’s dark out, but this shoe light certainly won’t hurt the cause. It turns on an off with a simple press of the clear plastic casing around the bulb.


Cardio Strong Fitness Beverage
It’s easy for me to keep track of fueling during a race, whether it’s with gels or drinks or gummies. But recovering after a run is just as important. This drink mix has electrolytes you need in addition to vitamins and protein, and it’s only 10 calories per serving. Just dump it into your water bottle and you’re ready to go. The only down side? It seems like orange is their only flavor (not an issue for me, because I love orange). www.cardiostrong.co Retail: $1.99/stick or $22.99/12-pack

Kay’s Naturals Protein Pretzel Sticks – Cinnamon Toast
This pouch had all the buzzy words that make me think “This is going to taste awful” – lots of protein AND fiber AND it’s gluten free AND low glycemic index… it was just asking to be bland. But they were actually pretty good. The sweet cinnamon toast flavor mixed with the salty pretzel flavor meant no one flavor dominated. The sticks were a little tough to bite because of the sweet coating, but they had a satisfying crunch. Jason ate most of the bag. His verdict? “Tasty.” shop.kaysnaturals.com Retail: $10.14/6 packages

Energems – Peanut Butter Blast
Each of these little crunchy energy “candies” has 15 calories, so a serving of three has 45 (and there are three servings per box). They also have caffeine, a great get-up-and-go must-have for runners to keep you powering through the miles. And our little box also came with a $1-off coupon. I don’t know how they knew I loved anything peanut butter, but I was already predisposed to like these. The candies themselves are large – I was expecting something the size of an M&M, and got something even larger than a junior mint. But they’re very, very yummy. I would have trouble carrying them when running, between the box (vs. a pouch) and the candy-like coating that would melt all over my fingers. But for a pre-run fuel, they’d be perfect. www.energems.net Retail: $8.97/3 boxes


Smarty Pants Gummy Vitamins for Adults
These gummy vitamins were, by far, my favorite product from the box. One of the common problems with Lap-Band patients is that pills can be hard to swallow, so I’ve already been taking liquid and gummy vitamins for 10 months now. But these taste more like candy than vitamins, and they have Omega 3 and Vitamin D, two additional items I was taking as separate supplements. Each 50-calorie package has six gummies and is equal to a day’s serving of vitamins. And as an added bonus, Smarty Pants has partnered with Vitamin Angels to provide matching nutrient grants to children in need for every purchase. You can feel good about taking this supplement in more ways than one. www.smartypantsvitamins.com Retail: $29.95/bottle (a 30-day supply)


Joshua Tree Skin Care Healing Lip Balm
This stuff has already found a home in the pocket of my jeans – it really does taste like apple cider, and it goes on smoothly without feeling greasy. The tube has more of an elliptical shape (rather than being perfectly round like most lip balms) so I can get better coverage as I apply. This SPF-15 lip balm is also petroleum-free, made from a base that’s a mix of beexwax and cocoa butter. Joshua Tree has tons of flavors, including yummy seasonal ones I have to try like Ginger Bread and Punkin Pie. www.jtreelife.com Retail: $4.50/each

Joshua Tree Skin Care Healing Salve
Runner’s chafe. It’s a fact. It’s why I never run in shorts – hello, chub rub! But this stuff is great for soothing those fiery red spots when they happen, as well as tending to small cuts and scrapes. And it’s great for winter and healing dry and cracked skin. In additional to this “general” healing salve, they also have lifestyle-specific options for cyclists, climbers, gymnasts, etc. www..jtreelife.com Retail: $5.75/15 ml


Epic Bar – Turkey, Almond, Cranberry
Yes, that’s a turkey on the wrapper. We were really interested to try this, because its protein is derived from grass-fed turkey (they also have beef and bison options). When Jason opened the package, his first words were, “Wow, this smells like meat.” And then he took a bite and said, “That’s surprisingly tasty.” I took a bite myself, and… it’s good. Not the typical protein bar, though; it tastes more like a fruity meat jerky (although not as tough). I don’t know if it’s something I’d purchase on the regular because I tend to not like my meat in bar form. But it was fun to try, and we know if we see them on a shelf and are pinched for time, it’s a tasty option. Word of warning: remove the packet of preservative that’s in the package with the bar first, or you might end up almost biting into it like Jason did. The bar has 150 calories, with a whopping 14 grams of protein – and since it’s gluten free, it’s very paleo friendly. www.epicbar.com Retail: $8.50/3 bars

Which product do you think would be your favorite? I’m already looking forward to next month!