Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

JoggBox Unboxing – June 2015

on 21 June 2015

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I’ve been nosying at subscription boxes lately, I like the idea of getting mystery parcels through the post and not knowing what the contents are in advance, and when I came across one aimed specifically at runners I had to give it a try. You can sign up for a 1, 3 or 12 month subscription, or pay a little more for a one-off box, which is what I did for myself and J, because she’d sulk if she didn’t get a go 😛 Mystery boxes of running gadgets are right up her street 😛

If you want to skip the prequel waffle and just get straight to the box contents, jump forward about three paragraphs to the title… First, go and get yourself a drink and a snack – this is a MEGA long one…

On the Joggbox website, the only real difference in the profiles I set up for us were age, shoe size and clothes size, and it didn’t really ask us any questions about type of running, distances, preferred nutrition etc., so I wasn’t expecting a huge degree of variety in the contents of the two boxes. They both turned up on the same day, I was out for mine and the courier very kindly put it in a box by my back door which was very conspicuously half full of water – tannin stained water from some leaves that had gotten in from autumn. Combine this with a hole in the plastic envelope bag cover thing and my box was somewhat water-logged by the time I got to it about 2 hours later.

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I’d told J there was a parcel coming, but not what it was, and banned her from opening it without me. J does not do well with things like this. The poor box had probably been hand-weighed and shaken to within an inch of its life within 30 mins of getting to her house. It was the Friday before my half marathon at Liverpool, and my original plan was to drop P off for night shift at 18:30 and meet J at the river for a short 4km-ish run as my last trainers trip before the Sunday. I’d had three texts by the lunchtime, I don’t remember where I was all morning but I got them all in one go when I got back to my phone. “Oooooo a box is here and it rattles”, “this box is just inviting me to open it”. Apparently Mr J has to hide all her Xmas presents before Christmas so she doesn’t spend the week previous trying to guess what they all are from the shape of the boxes and squishiness of contents…some people have no restraint.

My evening jog plans went out the window as we were heading to Liverpool the following day and J was working for the next 4 – so the next opportunity for a joint opening session would be Wednesday when I finished work and there was no way J was going to be able to keep her sticky fingers off it by the following morning let alone 5 days time! My final jog plans sabotaged by an impatient friend 😛 Might as well try and slather the guilt on thick while I’m here 😛

The Contents!

As you can see by the picture above, my box was somewhat warped by the flooding it got (thanks, Yodel <_<) but as J’s box had exactly the same contents I was able to get some non-waterlogged photos of the contents. Basically anything paper or card wrapped in mine had turned at least slightly pulpy but none of the actual contents except the leaflets was damaged by its bath.

First off, this is not a review of the contents themselves – it’s literally my impressions of them as I took them out the box and some extra information I got from digging through the internet briefly. I haven’t tried any of the items yet – only investigated what the contents of the June 2015 JoggBox are. Prices listed below are approximate only from checks made on vendor websites and Amazon.co.uk in June 2015.

The Paperwork

We might as well start at the beginning with the paperwork. There were two leaflets in the box, one for JoggBox itself including a recipe for Easy Mexican Egg White Omlette, which I am totally (not) going to be dashing round the kitchen to make and some prices for a few of the bits of kit on the back – we’ll come back to prices later.

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There was an interesting nugget of information in here about the impact of temperature on pace. I’ve noticed my own pace slowing a bit with the summer kicking in, and how much harder it is to hit the times I want when I’m dripping like it’s going out of fashion! Some clever soul has actually quantified this pace change across different temperatures, based in this case on an 8min/mile runner (we can dream right?!). I knew there was a reason I preferred the winter…I should break all my pb’s when the temperature drops back down again 😉 No further work needed! 😀

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The other piece of paperwork to arrive in the box was the High5 Advanced Nutrition Guide for Easier Marathon (10/10 for grammar there guys!), which is basically a breakdown of which of their products to use when in your marathon run and training to ensure you get the right hit of <various nutritional words here> when you need it through the distance.

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The box contents themselves were predominently High5 ones for this box – so you basically had a sample of at least one thing for before, during and after a race.

Before:

  • Zero drink
  • Energy bar

During:

  • IsoGel
  • EnergyGel

After:

  • Protein recovery drink mix

They recommend the gels are taken once every 20 minutes, so assuming you didn’t take one at the start, and you’re hitting the recovery stuff at the end rather than another gel, there’s enough in the box for a 1 hour run, which for me is about a 10km at the moment.

We’ll start with the High5 stuff in the order you’d expect to take it, seeing as it’s been introduced with the paperwork and then move on to the other contents of the box.

High5 Energy Bar (25g)

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Meant to be taken about 15 mins before exercise.

This is the bite size version at 25g, having recieved a full size one in a race finishers pack (which I also haven’t tried yet – I’m hoarding things!), I can confirm that when you buy these they come in at 60g each – my brief hunt suggests that the 25g ones are promotional only, you’d have to hunt around far longer than I did to find them anyway!

From what I can make out from the ingredients list on the back, it’s basically a fruit puree bar, with a small amount of puffed rice and basic preservative stuff that you find in a lot of other foods of a similar type. Looks pretty inoffensive to the pallet, hopefully in texture as well as taste! You can get it in four different flavours:

  • berry (as shown)
  • banana
  • coconut
  • peanut

If they’re to your taste, you can get the 60g version in packs of 25 from either the High5 website, or Amazon depending on how much you want to pay. They’re just under £30 on the High5 website, and around the £22 mark on Amazon. You can also buy them in 5 packs on Amazon if you’re not wanting to fill your entire house with running supplements in one go for just under £6 depending on flavour and seller, and you can get mixed packs if you want to try them all to find your favourite.

Zero Sports Drink

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These are tablets which you dissolve in water to give an electrolyte and magnesium boost before going out for a run (or I guess, in for a run if you’re a treadmill fan!). The envelope I received in the JoggBox had three individually wrapped tablets in it to try out, which are easy to pop into a running pack or pocket.

There are three different branches of the Zero family – Zero, Zero X-Treme (contains caffeine), and Zero Neutral (without added flavour – good for adding to already flavoured drinks instead of water). I received two Zero tablets in Berry flavour, and one Zero X-Treme tablet in Pink Grapefruit. Both types are available in both flavours, with Zero also being made in Citrus and Cherry-Orange, which is not a combination I’d previously put together!

There’s 20 tablets in a tube which makes up to 15 litres depending on how strong you like it. For the Zero tablets they recommend 750ml of water with one tablet for weak and 2 tablets for strong. Personally I don’t know many people or post race events that use bottles bigger than 500ml so this seems an odd dilution figure to choose per tablet, I think I’d probably just put one tablet in less water if I wanted the flavour to be a bit stronger! 500ml anyone?! Just to confuse things a bit, the Zero X-Treme tablets are the same size, sold in the same size tube, but are supposed to be added to 510ml of water…another impractical quantity as far as I’m concerned!

The tablets contain Vitamin C and five electrolytes, but High5 are only going to tell you three of them – Sodium, Magnesium and Potassium, so either the other two are Top Secret or too complicated for us menial general public to compute without going into a panic at the sight of molecule names.

There’s no real difference in price between the Zero and Zero X-Treme so it really is preference only. Once again the High5 website was more expensive than just buying them through Amazon, £6.99/tube RRP from High5, and available for £5-£7 on average from Amazon. Bulk boxes available if you want to go really crazy with them! Apparently the X-Treme ones are popular for driving and clubbing, which wouldn’t really occur to me as I don’t really use caffeine for anything, not drinking tea, coffee or energy drinks and preferring to get a sandwich and some shut-eye!

High5 Gels – IsoGel and EnergyGel

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Two gel packets – different names, different weights – what’s the difference?! I wondered the same thing. It appears that gels come in different consistencies; some that can be taken on their own and some that are a bit thicker and need water to help wash them down with. Both contain 23g of carbs for quick energy while on a run, and the weight difference is presumably water – the EnergyGel is slimmer and lighter, which is great if you’re looking to pack a few of them, and the IsoGel has a thinner consistency if you’re saving your water or just plain don’t like the thick ones!

These are the bad boys you’re supposed to fill those little elasticated loops on your belt or shoulder straps with on the longer runs that you were trying to figure out what to do with! High5 recommend taking one every 20 minutes at most – any more and they are not digested quick enough as your body has a limited carb intake at a time and they’ll just sit in your stomach and slosh around and make you feel sick 🙂 This isn’t a particular factor of gels by the way, it’s all food while running – I increased my intake of dextrose tablets on the second half of my half marathon and found exactly the same problem between miles 11 and 12!

They come in different flavours too;

EnergyGel:

  • Citrus
  • Summer Fruits (that delightfully ambiguous ‘some red berries from somewhere’)
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Apple

IsoGel:

  • Berry
  • Orange

Both variants are also available in ‘Plus’ which contains caffeine if you want it.

You can probably get them in individuals in sports shops, but on the interwebs they’re mainly offered in bulk boxes of 20 for the EnergyGel and 25 for the IsoGel. They’ll set you back about £20/box and £25/box on the High5 website respectively, and vary a bit more in price on Amazon with the EnergyGels coming in between £7 and £15 a box and the IsoGels at £10-£15 a box depending on flavour.

High5 Protein Recovery

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This one looks right up J’s street – a chocolate shake for after your run which you can make up with milk or water. I think the milk one’s probably better in taste just based on my experience with porridge and powder milkshakes, but for me only really practical for winter or when your run finishes at your house. I cringe at the thought of leaving a bottle of milk in the car for potentially several hours in the summer. No, thank you!

The sachet’s a hefty 60g and pretty large and I don’t think’s really feasible to be carrying around unless you’ve got a waist pouch on at least – won’t go in the key pocket of your trousers easily if you want your keys with you too! It contains 30% protein and comes in a couple of flavours.

  • Summer Fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Banana Vanilla

You can either buy it in multipacks containing 9 of the sachets, or a big 1.6kg tub if you want to go really mad with it and normally finish your workouts at home or take your recovery drink with you ready mixed and waiting for you at the end. Personally, I’ve no idea what I’d do with 1.6kg of anything that wasn’t chocolate but there’s obviously a market for it! You mix it up in 400-800ml – so I guess pick your own dilution rate?! Might as well use that 500ml finisher’s bottle 😉

This stuff’s pretty pricey; £42/tub on High5 or £30/tub on Amazon (yowch that’s a difference!), and just over £15/9-pack for the sachets on High5 and between £12 and £15 on Amazon.

Science In Sport Go Hydro Tablets

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That’s the High5 stuff finished with, so onto the other box contents! As far as I can tell to my inexperienced non-nutritionalist/sports-know-how eye, this and the High5 Zero tablets appear to be different brands of the same thing – hydration tablets for putting shiny chemicals into your water. I must have got the special European version, or a misprinted label batch as despite the front being in English, the ingredients and directions on the back are only availabe in German, French, Danish and Dutch!

There’s 20 tablets in a tube and you add one to 500ml of water to make up your bottle of drink which you can keep for up to 24 hours, so no problem making it up a while before your run, or even the night before if you so desire! Maybe your tap only spits out icy cold water and you like to leave it to go to room temperature or something.

Oddly enough, the flavour I’ve received – Pineapple and Mango – does not appear to be an option on the SiS website, which suggests it’s either a new flavour coming out (except I can buy it on Amazon if I’m willing to pay a bit more for it), or it’s one that’s been made redundant from the current product line-up. If you want to buy them from SiS, or for a slightly lower price, your options are;

  • Lemon
  • Berry
  • Cola (with caffeine only)

Cola flavour really doesn’t appeal to me, but the lemon and berry sound pretty inoffensive.

They have a retail price of £5.99 on the SiS website, and between £5 and £7 on Amazon depending on flavours. If you want the Pineapple and Mango I’ve received you’ll have to pay a hefty £9.49/tube though! I might keep this one and frame it somewhere, it might be worth £10 in 2 years!

Clif Builders 20g Protein Bar

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This bar does not weigh 20g as the label suggests, but a hefty 68g and is a little like a brick! Definitely worthy of its name. It’s almost a third protein and is definitely a recovery bar for grabbing from your bag after your run, you’d feel like you were carrying weights if you took it with you! These are Canadian made and feeling the weight of the pack and having tried one protein ball type snack before, I was mentally concerned (can you be physically concerned?) that it would be one solid bar off tough stick-in-your-teeth goo, but looking at the Clif website it does not appear to be so – phew! I don’t think you’d need more than one at a time!

It looks like a layer of puffed rice and chocolate flavoured bits, topped with what i think of as protein toffee, and then the whole bar wrapped in chocolate. We shall see when I try it what I think of it…

You can get these in different flavours too, all chocolate themed as so many good snacks are 😉

  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter

It’s about £20-£25 for a box of 12 on Amazon, and you seem to be able to get them in a range of sporting shops around the country but not direct from the manufacturer.

Rude Health Drinking Oats

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I must admit, these worried me a little when I pulled them from the box, though J looked quite interested by them, being something of a smoothy fan. I had visions of glasses of watery porridge which is definitely not my cup of tea at all! The contents are pure specially milled oats which are supposed to dissolve into a textured drink – I’m going to have to try it myself to believe that ‘textured’ doesn’t mean ‘lumpy’ and gritty!

The box claims you can put them in pretty much any drink – though I do notice they don’t have anything saying ‘just add to a glass of water’, so they may need something else for a flavour kick. They recommend;

  • Milk
  • Beetroot Juice
  • Coconut Water
  • Fruit Juices
  • Basically any liquid that isn’t plain water (this addition may just be me rather than the company outright saying so…)

It’s a 250g box, which sounds small but when you consider you’d only be adding a couple of spoonfuls at most to a glass, there’s actually enough there to last a while even if you’re using it daily – definitely not a sample box. This was the only product in the whole box that came in cheaper to get directly from the supplier (I didn’t check P&P) rather than Amazon, being £2.49 a box on the Rude Health website and closer to £3 a box on Amazon. If you’ve got a fancypants blender with a milling attachment, there’s a possibility you might be able to make these yourself with a bag of regular oats, but it’s not a bank-breaking price anyway.

Nathan Race Number Belt

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Hurrah! Something that’s not food related! Something to go around my now very full belly after consuming the other box contents and remind me of how much I have eaten!

I’ve seen a couple of ways of attaching race numbers – safety pins being the favourite, event/race clips and magnets. I’ve yet to see anyone wearing a belt with their number attached to it, and thought it would probably flap around and be more hassle until I saw the recent Bounders pictures from the Weardale Triathlon. Several of the runners were wearing something very similar – and when you’ve got to change outfits and layers midway through a race, not having to repin and move around your number to your top or trousers is a BIG help! It might be a bit of a nuisance in the wind, but it’s not windy all year round is it?!

It’s made by Nathan, the same brand as some of my running lights which I love for the winter, and is basically an adjustable slightly elastic waistband with two toggles on, which you can move to whatever width and position you need around your waist. It’s adjustable and would fit most sizes of runners – at its longest I could get it twice around my waist or fit an extra half a bum in it if that’s where I wanted to wear it! It shortens down a lot too and would fit men and women of most weight ranges I suspect.

You can get it in different colours and it works by taking the toggles off, putting the stringy bits through holes on your race number – pack a holepunch if you’re wanting to use it on a race where you’re picking the numbers up at the start! – and then reattach the toggles to hold your number in place.

It’s not a particularly expensive piece of kit on its own, with an RRP of £9.99 – you can get them from between £8 and £12 on Amazon depending on colour and seller, but it’s pricey compared with simple safety pins or even the event clips, might be a bit of a nuisance if like me you take a waist-pack for longer runs, and is likely to make your number flap about if slightly windy or you are possessing of a rather knees-up gait! I think for me it has a niche market in the duathlon and triathlon fields, where I suspect it’s invaluable, but the chances of someone dragging me into a pool are slim let alone through lakes while doing a run or cycling!

Overall

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Are you still here?! Did you make it?! This turned out a lot longer than even I, the Queen of Waffley Things, had anticipated! So, what did we think of our first JoggBox?! First impressions – there was definitely quite a lot of items in that box – especially when you see them all laid out like above. In terms of value for money, I used the prices I could get the items for from Amazon rather than the RRP I suspect JoggBox might have used while pricing it up – and they didn’t price up everything on the back of their leaflet – and subdividing the multipacks down to an individual price (as good a rule of thumb as I’m going to get at this stage), I reckon the contents of the box are just under £23 – so given I paid £20 for it I’m quids in! It’s also an easy way for me to try several of the nutrition products without spending more per item or having to buy in bulk while I figure out what I like, and there’s a few items in there that I didn’t know existed let alone thought about trying!

I think I’ll probably get another JoggBox to try at some point, but I don’t think I’d get a subscription of longer than about 3 months – and would probably spread them out more so I got them a few months apart, as I suspect (and I may be doing JoggBox a disservice here) that there would be a degree of repeatability in terms of the types of products – there’s only so many gels and protein bars in the world!

I think I need a lie down after that lot 😉 Maybe I’ll see you next time?!

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