Dining Out and Brunching at Alden & Harlow

Alden & Harlow has been on my list of WANT, no NEED to try for a while. It is located in Harvard Square and while I run through it about weekly, getting myself across the river in non-running mood seems like a chore, or maybe it’s the parking and red line situation. However, we are trying to make a better effort at going across the river and checking out the Cambridge and Somerville dining scene that is all the rage. Alden & Harlow opened in 2013 and focuses on small plate inventive American cuisine from a constantly changing menu that I need to try each time from now on.

Booked weeks in advance, Tony surprised me with a date on Valentine’s day this year We are usually a home made pizza and nap type of couple but a gal can’t complain when offered a fancy dinner.

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Our meal started with a complimentary snack of PICKLED beans topped with sesame seeds. Getting a serving of veggies and the much needed electrolytes in one chew.

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Next we got the patatas bravas which were the best I ever had! Like I’m still dreaming on these a week later. They’re spicy, with some pepper relish and and a garlic flavor like no other. GET THESE if you go. The rest of the menu is optional, but this is a MUST.

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Our next selection was the smoked duck breast! Candied walnuts and jam bounced of the flavor

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Next was the smoked trout and I think I may have reached my smoked foods limit because I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The roe and latkas were a nice touch but I wasn’t digging the trout as much.

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The superstar of the night (after patata bravas of course) was the Secret Burger. It’s not so secret given that it’s listed on the menu, but supposedly the quality is limited. We were dining early side of 6:30 PM. 8 oz of meats, with a house made roll and chips topped us up for the night.

But where’s the dessert? Well… we were feeling a little stuffed (maybe the secret burger did us in).  But don’t worry I got to try those as well!, A week earlier I also had a brunch with the gals (Galatine) and of course the irony of waiting 5 plus years to try Alden and Harlow is that I was invited to two reservations in one week. If course I couldn’t miss out because brunch and dinner are not the same!

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The Bloody Mary is on the menu “Spicy, Savory & Necessary” and they are not lying! A rich flavor with their famous pickled green beans that I learned is apparently their thing.

img_20190209_114542.jpgI went back and forth on what to pick, but ultimate went with them lamb belly hash and was not disappointed.  Although I wouldn’t have complained for a bigger slice of sour dough bread #gimmeallthecarbs

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The dishes are all on a slightly smaller side as the are designed for sharing or for those who are on a diet and not marathon training so I had to tag on this side of cheesey grits to hold me over until the next meal. It ended up being the perfect companion to the lamb hash.

And I probably should have stopped there but what’s a Galatine without dessert?

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Olive Oil Cake with Earl Gray whip

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Smoked chocolate bread pudding with ice cream! Hot out of the oven

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and my favorite were these simple but soooo good almond short bread biscuits and custard

There was also a cinnamon roll I had my eyes on, but the ran out by the time I tried to order! I guess I’ll need to return soon to get my non-sticky hands on one.

Books for runners – Meals on the Run review

To be fair, I don’t even know if I consider myself to be a runner anymore. It feels like a piece of my heart is lost on another world. Regardless, when Runner’s World offered me to review a few of their books coming out, I couldn’t help but accept their offer. I hope to one day be a “runner” again. I’m still registered for the 2016 Boston Marathon so who knows what the future will hold.

Meals on the Run – Available in Kindle currently for $5.59 and hardcopy $20.33

What this should really be called is food porn for healthy but lazy eaters.

RunToMunch Pumpkin Boook Photo

The recipes were contributed by elite runners like Kara Goucher, celebrity foodies Joe Cross and Mark Bittman, as well as many by registered dietitians and Rodale test kitchen. The book includes 150 under 30 minutes recipes for the following:

-Breakfast
-Smoothies and Juices
-Snacks and Sweets
-Salads
-Soups & Stews
-Pasta & Noodles
-Vegetarian Mains & Sides
-Seafood Mains
-Meat & Poultry Mains

And although it’s being marketed towards runners, I think any endurance athlete would appreciate the recipes.

RunToMunch Chick Avocado Soup

Each recipe provides the total time needed to prepare the dish, the nutrition per serving and number of servings the recipe will yield. Additionally many of the recipes offer a “quick tip” such as how to keep ingredients fresh or an alternate way to prepare or serve the dish. I found a few pretty obvious but there is always something knew to learn or maybe just an idea you didn’t think of before.

The book starts of with a runner’s kitchen essential shopping list, vegetable tips (useful to me) and a list of some time saving tools that I was proud to note that I owned most already!

And the recipes are also further broken up with gluten free, vegan, and low calories labels if you’re a restricted diet type of runner (person).

RunToMunch Fish Curry

But seriously, the book really is a healthy food porn and all the recipes so far have been so easy to understand, follow, and finding the ingredients has been easier than most.

Here’s my favorite recipes so far:

RunToMunch Sriracha PB

And yes, this would make a great gift for a runner. Get a copy today Meals on the Run $5.59 on Kindle and hardcopy $20.33.

What’s your favorite cookboook?

Indo-Rowing with B-Tone Fitness & A call for Help

I decided to be a little bit silly recently and participating in something that is so not my style. A runner’s world cover contest. Do I think I’ll win? Of course not, I cannot compare to the legions of more popular internet personalities and then there’s the runners with cancer, I really can’t compete with cancer nor do I want to. In the grand scheme of things, my personal struggles are simple and small. None the less, I entered for a chance to be on an issue of Runner’s World because why not. And while I know, I won’t win, I would still love to make it to the leadership board! If you can take a second and vote for me a day or 2 or every day? I would appreciate it. The website requires a verification through twitter or facebook, but you can close out when it asks for your email.

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VOTE VOTE VOTE <333 Free candy for all who vote, free hugs for those that vote twice! 

I struggle with putting myself out there daily since unfortunately these contests always allow multiple votes, but you can’t win if you don’t try, even if it’s last place ;).

So while I’ve been struggling with my plantar fasciitis, I’ve been trying to look at alternative forms of exercise. Truth is, I can’t love anything as much as the feeling of air in my lungs and full body movement of running. I’m not very coordinating, so running is my best hope. However, as they say you can’t alway get what you want, but you can get what you need. Other workouts, might just be what I need until I resolve my chronic drama. And making a great effort today with PT! Hopefully, I’ll like this one!

So one of the things I got to try last weekend was Indo-rowing at B-Tone Fitness on Newbury street. What is Indo-rowing? Think of a spin class only with a rowing machine! And the machines they use are the wooden water rowers style like in the opening scene of House of Cards (if you watch, I only watched the start of first episode).

What is Indo-Rowing?

The unique format of Indo-Row® (yes, just like Spinning, its a registered trademark, go capitalism!) captures all the elements of competitive, on-water rowing, creating a class that is fast-paced and engaging from the first minute. From “Skills and Drills” to “Waves and Recoveries,” and the final build up to a friendly but competitive “Race,” Indo-Row® quickly converts first-timers to devoted team members.

And to be honest, after trying the class with a bunch of Boston Bloggers on Saturday, it really lives up to the description.

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I can’t vouch for the results as I only tried one class but I can tell you that it was intensely heart thumping for me! Maybe being an ultra-runner last made me incredible weak in quick cardio workouts, but I struggled with some panting as I tried to get into a rhythm.

Our instructor Jody was great.  For those of us like me who are terrible listeners she had this diagram.

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Photo credit to ParkerthePrepster

And for those of us who can’t handle the whole workout on a level of 8 out of 10 crap, there’s metrics, beautiful metrics to help guide your improvements and efforts.

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The monitor displays time, distance, stroke rate, speed/intensity and total calories. Really everything you need for feedback on efficiency and workout level.

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We started with a mix of workout styles from a warm up to a pace test. We followed by some endurance workouts and intervals and concluded with a relay competition with our competitors across from us. For the fun video, check out my instagram and see which side won!

For more on the studio and class check out B-Tone Fitness. The studio is located at 30 Newbury Street on the forth floor in a side room facing the front of the street.  Currently btone is featuring an Introductory Special (3 classes for $30). Indo-Row is just one of their classes. They also offer Tone and Barre Blast. For those of you who followed me for a while, know that I tried Tone and personally the workout itself is just not my style. I am uncoordinated and terrible at listening to instructions, but something like Indo-Row was perfect for me and even with my terrible ability to follow directions, I still felt like I was able to follow and get a great sweatfest out of it!

Olives to Go & Other Fun Snack ideas

This post is sponsored by Olives to Go, all opinions are my own.

With busy season in the spring, my office had no shortage of snacks and food around. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of these snacks is less than I would like to brag about. However, we were lucky that there’s always fruit around which is nice and all. But sometimes, when the 3PM snack crave comes along, you kind of want something a little more fun.

So when Olives to Go reached out to me to try their new snacks, I was excited!

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These delicious little things come in  Kalamata (120 cal per cup), Black Olives (40 cal per cup), Sliced Black Olives (60 cal per cup), and Stuffed Spanish Olives (80 cal per cup).

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Pearls Olives to Go! are easy to open individually packed and are great for packing to add to a lunch or a snack. Plus they’re healthy and wholesome snack that’s a bit more satisfying than an apple (sorry apples, lately I haven’t been into you).

I’ve tried them with salads, humus/pita bread and my current favorite option cheese! (although cheese might be my arch nemesis lately, but so good)

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It’s not that I’m olive biased, but the green ones are my favorite.

If you want to learn more, check them out online (http://www.olives.com/pearls/), Instagram (@Pearls_Olives) & Twitter (@PearlsOlives)

And because they’re pretty awesome, I wanted to give one of my readers a chance to try them too! You too can receive a similar lunch pack as I did.

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And just in case you don’t win, there’s always some coupons out there:

For those of you in Boston, look for a coupon for Pearls Olives to Go in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Wall Street Journal and many other Boston-area newspapers on Sunday, May 3rd!

For those of you in Milwaukee, look for a coupon for Pearls Olives to Go in The Journal Sentinel, The Wall Street Journal and many other Milwaukee-area newspapers on Sunday, May 3rd!

ASICS GEL-Pursue Review and Giveaway

Did I tell you that I was originally an ASICS girl? Yup, ASICS GT 2000 were my shoe of choice and for a year into my running addiction I went through several pairs because once I commit, I commit. Back then I also only ran on treadmills for 30 minutes and that’s it. Then, I randomly discovered other shoes and realized a monogamous relationship with just one shoe is completely impossible with all the different New England seasons and terrain that I run in. I’m addicted to trying new running shoes like most girls are addicted to a near pair of heels.

So when I had an opportunity to try out the new Gel-Pursue, I was immediately excited.

Out of the box I was immediately surprised and slightly delighted that they have kept their colors simple. I know, I know, I love bright colors as much as the next runner gal, but I prefer to pick them with my clothes vs. my shoes and sometimes my running skirt of choice can clash with my shoes. So there’s a pro and a con to the simple color scheme. Although, it does come with a nice purple and neon accent that matches my running socks!

ASICS Gel Pursue 1

ASICS GEL-Pursue has been awarded “Best Debut Shoe” in the September 2014 Shoe Guide issue of Runner’s World due to its equal parts cushioning and stability in a package that rides slightly lower to the ground. However, I wanted to find out for myself how comfy this shoe is.

First thing I noticed with the GEL Pursue vs. the GT-2000 series was that they removed the medial post for stability turning this into a a neutral shoe. Part of the reason why I stopped running in the GT-2000 series was the realization that I was a neutral running and that the stability post was creating an unnatural gait for me. So I was happy to see it gone. I also read that compared to the Gel-Cumulus and Gel-Nimbus, it has a slightly firmer mid-sole and more responsive ride but I’ve never ran in either of those shoes so I’ll take their word for it.

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So far I’ve been running in these shoes for about 2 weeks ranging in distance from a 3 miler to a 10 miler. However, I haven’t had a chance yet to try them on a “long run” such as a 20 miler because of my triathlon schedule. The extra support was a nice bonus when my calves were tired from a spin class and made the easy runs extra easy on my body. The one down side of having a more supportive shoe was that I found them to be a little bit heavier and warmer than some of my more minimalist shoes. However, I’m happy to report there wasn’t much of a pace difference in my runs.

ASICS Gel Pursue

To Summarize:

The ASICS GEL-Pursue is an overall great shoe for Neutral runners that retails for $110.  I think the extra comfort is great for newer runners and distance runners who like the extra support.

The CONs

There’s only a few cons that I found with these shoes

  • They are not ideal shoes for speedwork as the extra padding made me feel a little clunky
  • At 8.7 oz, I found them a little heavy
  • Lack of color options. From what I saw online these are your only colors for women

The PROs

However, I found that the pros out-weight the cons

  • Impact Guidance System (I.G.S®) ASICS® design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
  • FluidRide™ provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability. So although it’s a little heavier, it works in my favor on the longer runs when I need a little more bounce in my extra miles.
  • Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL® Cushioning Systems – Attenuates shock during impact and toe-off phases, and allows movement in multiple planes as the foot transitions through the gait cycle.
  • Guidance Trusstic System® -This Trusstic System® integrates Guidance Line® construction for enhanced gait efficiency while providing midfoot structural integrity.
  • Guidance Line® Vertical flex groove decouples the tooling along the line of progression for enhanced gait efficiency.
  • Heel Clutching System™ Exoskeletal heel counter provides improved support and creates improved heel fitting environment.
  • Discrete Eyelets – Independently placed eyelets disburse lace tension, creating a customized fitting environment and enhanced upper comfort.

And here’s the good news, anything I love, I usually try to make sure I can get a pair to one of my readers and the folks at ASICs were happy to give one Run To Munch reader a pair. Giveaway will be open until Friday September 19th at midnight and is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: I received a pair of ASICS GEL-Pursue shoes for the purpose of this review. I was also given a pair to give to one of my readers. All opinions and writing are 100% my own. 

Transitioning into Racing Flats & Skechers GOMeb Speed 2 Review & Giveaway

My evolution of running shoes started with Converse and ended in Skechers GOMeb Speed 2 shoes. How did I ever get here? Why was I ever running in Converse?

Well in college, I was still in my teen angst anarchy RAH RAH RAH phase and everyone knows that the only way you can rage against the man is with a pair of Chuck Taylors. Nevermind the fact that you’re raging against the machine in a brand owned by Nike at that time. Let’s ignore that part altogether.

So when a friend asked me to go for a run on the Charles my senior year of college, I put on the only pair of shoes I had at the time. It didn’t get me very far, but I did make it out the door.

I will not get into an argument about minimalist vs. maximalist shoes since I am not an expert on everyone. However, I know that for me personally, I’ve found great benefits in alternating between racing flats and my more cushy shoes. The cushy shoes, I’ve been using for long runs and marathon racing, while for treadmill and shorter races, I’ve been using my lighter Skechers.

I know, Skechers? Who even knew they had running shoes before Meb won the Boston Marathon this year.

Actually, I have to confess I did. I first got introduced to Skechers when I won 2nd place at the Malden 10K in 2013. So for about a year, I’ve been playing around with these guys as people gave me weird looks when I told them they’re Skechers. I don’t know why, but runners can be so judgmental sometimes.

Skechers Go Run 2

So when I saw Meb win the Boston Marathon in almost the same pair of shoes as I was training in, I felt vindicated at last! If a professional elite runner not only wins a race, but also achieves a life time PR, the first thing you look at are his shoes! Suddenly, my running friends had an interest in what I had to say about Skechers.

Okay to be honest, Meb was actually running in a model that won’t be available until Fall 2014, but he used to run in my shoes.

How did Skechers go from the crazy Spice Girl platform shoes, to Meb? Well, from what I heard. A bunch of smart people from some of the other large running shoe brands had some ideas, but change is always hard to push. Skechers Performance Division on the other hand was looking for a way to become more competitive in the running shoe part of the business, so they took these individuals with their new bright ideas and let them go for it!

So when I had the opportunity to test out the Skechers GoSpeed Meb 2, I couldn’t wait!

When you take them out of the box the first thing you notice is that they are incredibly light.

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I thought the bottoms looked super funny, but I think that’s what keeps them so light and bouncey

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The Good

  • Super light at 5.6 oz while still being supportive
  • Independent circular GOimpulse sensors for a more responsive running experience
  • M-Strike Technology™ promotes a midfoot strike
  • New printed nearly seamless mesh fabric upper – A little cold for me in the winter, but feels great in the hot humid summer
  • Resalyte™ Midsole – Proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact
  • Dupont Hytrel™ Stability plate in midfoot for a supportive and secure run
  • Seamless interior with microfiber lining maximizes comfort
  • 4 mm drop

And they’re just so pretty!

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The Bad

  • They run a half size too big. Not completely a bad, but just be aware when trying to figure out your size. I usually run in a size 7, but it ended up being too big. I then tried a size 6. It fit, but would feel tight once my feet swelled in the heat. Finally I tried a size 6.5 and it fit perfectly! Skechers was kind enough to work with me until we found a size that works for me.
  • Shoe laces kept untying until I triple knotted. I didn’t have this issue on my old pair, so maybe it was just a fluke
  • Nothing else, I absolutely love this shoe. I wouldn’t use it on a trail or gravel road, but a paved road or treadmill feels great!

Transitioning to the GoSpeed & Benefits

The first time I put on minimal shoes, I ran 2 miles before my legs felt awful and my calves wanted to die. Yes, the girl who runs 20 miles on a whim, felt drained by 2 miles.

I actually put the shoes away for about 2 weeks before I tried to give them a second chance. The second time around, it didn’t feel as bad. I got through 2 miles. The next time 3 miles. Since I run both outside and on the treadmill, I kept these for treadmill runs. Eventually, I was running my hour long runs without any problems. I can’t even imagine doing tempo runs in my heavier shoes anymore.

  • Start out slow – My speed was about 30 seconds slower per mile
  • Start out less time – You can do mileage or time. I started with 20 minutes, moved to 30 minutes and now I’m up to two hours with these shoes
  • Alternate shoes – I found that running in flats puts a little more impact on my skeletal mass, so I use other shoes for recovery and trail runs.
  • Racing flats initiate quicker turnover and studies demonstrate that lighter shoes reduce energy costs up to 3 percent! So a marathon that typically takes me 3:30 to do can be cut to 3:24! When seconds mean a PR, I’ll take a few minutes
  • Closer connection to the ground and form. If my running form starts to fall apart, I feel it right away and make sure I correct my running posture.

Overall, as it’s getting hotter and hotter each day in Boston, I’m falling more in love with the shoes.

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And because they’re so awesome, I get to give a pair to one of my readers! Entry will be open until Saturday. Sorry, US residents only.

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What to put in your (Apera) gymbag: Review & Giveaway

It took me a while, well over a year to figure out how to pack my gymbag and what not to pack. Actually, its probably more important to know what not to pack since I have to carry my bag on the train or walking from my house (about 15 minutes) instead of my car bearing the burden.

Now I just needed a bag. While I loved my little gymbag from Old Navy that I got for $11, it took about 2 weeks before it was falling apart. As I get older, I’m learning more and more that you get what you pay for. I guess that bag is meant for people with cars and not people who walk. I then migrated to using those reusable grocery bags. Problem is, they’re really uncomfortable to walk around with and I look like a crazy bag lady! Not cute, not comfortable, not fun.

So when Apera contacted me and offered to send me a bag of my choice in exchange for my views, I figured perfect! I did gasp a little when I saw their retail value, but after using the bag for a few weeks to travel and the gym, I have to confess that just like a well made designer purse, it is worth every dollar! 

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I picked out one of their Performance Duffel Bags in fuchsia. First of all, it’s beautiful, but also since I go from home to gym to everything else between, I needed a bag that can handle it all for the day or for the weekend.

Why I love my Apera Bag

  • It’s super versatile.  I use it for work, for the gym and for weekend traveling. 
  • There are pockets for everything!  I have to confess, I’m a bit of a bag lady because I like to keep everything separate, but since this bag has so many pockets, I can finally get rid of all the gross bags I use. I have a place for my shoes, water bottle, fuel, gum, shower stuff, ipad, book, and so much more that I’ll mention later.
  • It has a washable insert to put your wet/sweaty/muddy clothes or in my case, my stink ass swimsuit as well.
  • It’s easy to clean! Apera makes their bags from an antimicrobial bag that protects the bag and everything I put in it from bacteria and odors.  All I gotta do is wipe it and it’s feeling fresh again.
  • Apera’s bags are also vented to allow for airflow which helps to keep everything in my bag dry and smelly free like my shoes!
  • Apera is charitable. Apera donates one Sprint Pack to the Special Olympics for every three Apera bags they sell.  Any company that promotes charity is good by me!

Let’s take a closer look at the bag, shall we?

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There’s two small compartments on top where I keep my keys, cell, wallet and glasses case. The bag features two vented pockets on each side. I keep my running shoes on one side, while my flipflops go on the other side.Apera Bag (3)

There is a large side pocket on the back that I keep my ipad in. On the inside between snacks, shower stuff, and gym stuff, let’s just say I find a use for each and every one of the pockets.

What I keep in my gym bag

First and most importantly I always pack it the night before because when I pack in the morning I forget crucial things like socks, sports bra and worse of all underwear.

  • Running Clothes – Even if I’m planning on swimming, I still bring them because when you get in the mood, you want to have means to the go!
  • Swimsuit, goggles, cap, and that ear water drying drops – because even though I haven’t swam in months, I like to think when I finally talk myself into it, I’ll be ready
  • Underwear and socks – I always keep extra in case I forget, because I’ve forgotten countless times and it sucked to say the least
  • Running Shoes
  • Flip-flops – While I don’t use at them at my work gym, the Malden Y has so many strands of unknown diseases that I would never risk it and that’s a lot saying for me
  • Shower stuff – Shampoo, shower puff, conditioner, body wash, face scrub, moisturizer. I usually go home stinky and sweaty in the summer, but in the winter I have to put up with the horror of showering at the Y. In addition, I have dry shampoo for when I run at work. Hairbrush that always stays in my gym bag because forgetting that sucks too.
  • SNACKS & Fuel – Nuun, Gu, Kind bars, gum, leftover lunch because I really am always hungry
  • Work stuff – Wallet, glasses, my lunch for the day, a few basic make-up stuff that I never wear but sometimes carry
  • Sweatpants and hoodie – if I workout after work, I don’t really want to change into my office clothes, so I wear my hoodlum outfit home.

See, I wasn’t joking when I said I find a use for every pocket!

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I may still be a secret bag lady, but at least my bag is looking mighty good!

The Performance Duffel sells for $124 but Apera is also running a sweet promotion where all BLUE bags are on sale for 40% off and a duffel bag of any color is also 40% off!

Apera Blue Bags

If you want to learn more about the Performance duffel or any of the other 6 bags Apera sells, check out their website where they also have videos available to give you a better idea of which bag will work best for you.

Giveaway

Apera is giving one lucky Run To Munch reader a Sprint Pack of their own!

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QOTD

1. Do you use a gym bag? I’m currently using the Apera Duffel mentioned above. I’m thinking of buying their backpack for when I start running to work if the snow ever melts.

2. What are your gym bag essentials? Dry shampoo and a facial scrub, everything else I can almost wing it.