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What Run Oregon is Trying: Fun Run Box

Fellow blogger Abby Meek reviewed the Fun Run Box late last year, and when I decided to splurge a little on myself with a subscription box, I chose the FRB. This is my review of the first two months’ of boxes, which I paid for personally at the monthly subscription rate ($35 plus $4 shipping).

First, I should explain that I went with Fun Run Box instead of a regular snack box because I have a pretty good idea of what snacks I like, and while I’m always open to trying new snacks, I don’t really need a curated service for that. What I found appealing about the FRB was the combination of running-related stuff (some treats, some gear) and the idea of some monthly workout ideas. Relatedly, I went with the Fun Run Box instead of some other running subscription boxes because I was more interested in the idea of monthly challenges, which could work on aspects of running/training that I might otherwise be neglecting, and because the Fun Run Box seemed to provide one really useful item a month, plus some fillers, rather than a bunch of stuff that might be just okay.

Month 1 – Make It a Habit

Abby’s test box was the regular subscription box for that particular month (which I think was the “Ugly Sweater” challenge). With a regular subscription, the very first box you get is the “Make It a Habit” challenge. This is in place of the regular monthly challenge box.

My box arrived in late February, so I missed out on the “March Madness” challenge. (However, you can get access to the challenge itself, if you want to try the regular monthly one. You just don’t get the goodie box itself.)

Here’s what came in the box (prices from Amazon):

  1. Hydrapak SF 500 [$19.99 + shipping]
  2. Honey Stinger caramel waffle [$19 (for 16), so $1.19]  [also a discount code]
  3. RunGoo [$16.80 (for 5), so $3.36] [also a discount code]
  4. Jimmybar! [$26 (for 24), so $1.08]
  5. Sqwincher zero recovery drink mix x2 [$15 (for 50), so $0.60 for 2]
  6. Tech shirt
  7. finisher’s magnet

If you are trying to squeeze maximum value out of the box, this one is about even, depending on how you price the tech shirt and the magnet, which being specifically made for this box are unique.

How were the goodies? The Honey Stinger waffle was tasty, mild, and pleasantly chewy. I liked it enough although I don’t know if I’d go buy my own stash over Popcorners or smoked oysters (my current favorites). The Jimmybar! was nutty with a banana flavor; I thought it had a bit of a strange taste. The Sqwincher recovery drink mix is a little tube of powder that you mix into water. Mine were grape and made the drink taste kind of like grape Tang. It was advertised as zero calorie but didn’t have a particularly strong aftertaste that some zero cal drinks have.

Finally, the big ticket item in the box was the Hydrapak SF500 softflask. This is a softshell, BPA-free plastic water bottle. What sets it apart from other water bottles is that it is collapsable, meaning that as you drink from it, it shrinks. The way it accomplishes this is by letting air out so that the volume compresses. To drink, you bite down on the nozzle; otherwise, it stays tight. I haven’t used it much because I tend not to drink water during regular training runs, but its compact nature makes it seem very suitable for runners.

Now, as to the challenge itself….

As you can see, the single challenge card contains workouts for beginning, intermediate, and advanced runners. Thus, you can always tailor the workout based on your own level of experience and fitness, even if you find that your own definition of, say, “intermediate” is different from FRB’s.

I’ll note that from what I’ve seen, the first challenge is significantly more time-intensive than subsequent ones (at least, the March Madness and Turn Up the Volume ones). If you run fairly regularly, the Make It a Habit One shouldn’t be too challenging. If you’re just starting out, the beginning level should be, well, challenging but doable.

Month 2 – Turn Up the Volume

Okay, my second box arrived in late March. This would be my first regular challenge box. Here’s a video as I open it up:

The cinnamon roll flavored Cereal Protein Bar was quite nice. But the big item in this month’s box was the Volume Maker runbuds. Fellow Run Oregon blogger Nikki Mueller got to review a pair of these a couple of months ago and was favorably impressed.

 

As it turned out, I wasn’t in the market for wireless earphones, as the Mpow Swift wireless phones that I bought about two years ago have been going strong. Still, I couldn’t help but be excited about the VM runbuds. They are even more compact than the Mpow (which has a wire connecting the two earbuds), and based on the price difference, would be expected to deliver better sound.

Now, due to my ineptness, I had trouble getting the runbuds to pair with my smartphone. I was able to get the left and right ones to sync, but neither my smartphone nor my Kindle Fire would seem to detect it. I emailed Volume Maker and received a quick email response with a “how to” video, which I watched but still couldn’t get it to pair. I sent another email, and Ray at Volume Maker graciously arranged to a phone call to walk me through the process. It turned out that I was not holding the right earbud power button down long enough… /embarrassment

After Ray walked me through, I was able to pair the runbuds immediately to my smartphone. Yea! I took them out for a test run, and they worked perfectly. I’m not an audiophile, but the sound seems a little crisper than the Mpow. Also, it does not have the weird dropout that my Mpow often has at the beginning of a run, where it warns “out of range” and then gives me about 10 seconds of garbled sound before clearing up. On the other hand, the Volume Maker runbud does have a tight range: as long as I’m holding my phone in my hand in my normal running pose (i.e., elbow joint around a 90 degree angle), it’s fine, but if I straighten my arm all the way, the bluetooth connection fades. I suppose that is the price you pay for making such a tiny device.

One concern that you might have is how securely will the runbuds stay? Answer: pretty securely. I’ve gone on runs of 6.1 and 7.1 miles in hilly terrain and haven’t had any slippage. Granted, I wasn’t going at top speed, but I race without earphones anyway so that’s not an issue for me.

To get back to the Fun Run Box, here’s the kicker on the April box: the retail price for the Volume Maker runbuds is $199.99 at the manufacturer’s website. You can get it for a little more than half that at Amazon, but that still makes this month’s Fun Run Box a tremendous bargain. I’m not sure how they managed to cut such a sweet deal, but they did. Now, as I said, I wasn’t in the market for wireless earphones, so what will I do with a second set? Well, I’ll keep these paired to my smartphone and the Mpow paired to my Kindle Fire, and/or I’ll have a back-up set in case one runs out of juice, and/or I’ll lend/give one pair to a family member.

Fun Run Box’s Facebook group

Finally, by subscribing to Fun Run Box, you get access to the FRB Facebook page, which is a closed group. If you need more running-related posts in your life, this is a pretty active group, and super-friendly too. Co-founder Joann Plamondon keeps things in the group lively with frequent posts that invite comments and responses, and running selfies are encouraged. Plus, it adds to the monthly camaraderie of tackling the challenges, with others posting their progress. This is definitely an important benefit of being a subscriber – especially if you like/want/need more running-related posts in your Facebook feed. (I’d be happy with nothing but posts about running, TV, board games, cats, and personal updates from my friends.)

Subscribe!

If you’re interested in subscribing to Fun Run Box, click here. It’s $32/month if you pay for a full year in advance, $33/month if you pay for six months in advance, $34/month if you pay for three months in advance, or $35/month if you subscribe month-by-month; also each box is $4 in shipping within the U.S. Use the code RUNOREGON for a $5 discount on the first box. (Full disclosure: I don’t get any benefit if you click through to subscribe.)

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About Tung Yin (187 Articles)
Law prof by day, runner all the time. Got off the couch in January 2011 and have been obsessed with running ever since.

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