What a (runner) girl needs: Shoes and bags

Disclaimer: I received products from Brooks, Altra and Vooray as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

Here’s my Vooray ACE Backpack shown with my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 and Altra Escalante 1.5 after they both got in some muddy miles. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I’m probably like a lot of female runners in that I would rarely pay more than $50 for a pair of everyday shoes, like flats or boots, but $70 is a deal on running shoes.

Quality running shoes are important, and I was thankful to receive two new pairs of kicks when I attended The Running Event in Austin, Texas, last month.

I recently reviewed some of the other items I received at the event (I’ll post links at the bottom of this post). In this post, I’m going to write about the two pairs of shoes from Brooks and Altra, as well as the backpack I received from Vooray.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19

$130, BrooksRunning.com

The Brooks Adrenaline has been my running shoe almost exclusively since I was fitted for it back in 2007 for high school cross country. I’ve tried a couple other shoes over the years — one to change things up and one that I actually won from #BibChat — but I’ve been happy with the Adrenaline over time.

I do wear a full size bigger in these than my regular shoe size for casual shoes. In casual shoes like flats, I’m a size 7, and in these, I wear a size 8. Having worn the Adrenaline for a long time, the latest model felt relatively easy to adjust to. I do use inserts because of issues with my big toes not bending all the way, so I’ve been using those with these, too.

I wore the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 for a BibRave group run in Austin.

I usually end up liking the previous version of the Adrenaline better at first — probably just because I’ve become used to it. However, I’ve been doing a decent amount of running in these, and they seem to be serving me well.

I did notice some pain in different parts of my foot as I adjusted, but I think things are all good now. I have been recently suffering from some shin pain, but that seems to return every December. I went to the chiropractor yesterday, which usually seems to help, and I was feeling really good on my run today in these shoes until I stepped the wrong way on my foot and probably gave myself a minor ankle sprain.

The new features of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 are the GuideRails Holistic Support System and the DNA LOFT Crash Pad, according to the Brooks website.

Here are the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 with a Zwift RunPod, which I used for my recent run on Zwift.

The Brooks website says this about GuideRails: We’ve shifted our focus beyond the feet, to the most injury-prone part of a runner’s body: the knees. GuideRails keep you moving comfortably by keeping excess movement in check.

The GuideRails can be seen on either side of the shoe, but it wasn’t obvious to me what they were until I read about them, so I thought I’d provide that description.

The support shoe also has cushioning, and the website says this about the Crash Pad: An integrated Segmented Crash Pad accommodates any foot landing, delivering smooth heel-to-toe transitions.

Learn more about the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 here.

Altra Escalante 1.5

$130, AltraRunning.com

I’d never worn Altra shoes before trying these, but I’d definitely heard of them and knew them for being a zero drop shoe — and as being one of the sponsors of the local Algonquin 50K.

I thought adjusting to a zero drop shoe — one in which there’s not additional cushioning under the heel that raises it above the toes — would be more difficult, but the first time I ran in them, I actually felt like I was running faster than expected (something that I later saw another BibRave Pro note on social media). I was surprised how good I felt.

This view of the Altra Escalante 1.5 certainly shows the Footshape toe box. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I had put 8 down for my running shoe size on the form for The Running Event, even though I didn’t know what shoes we would be getting, and that seemed to be a good size for these shoes, too.

The Escalante 1.5s seem very lightweight. The toe box also has more of a squared-off look than the “regular” shoe — it’s Altra’s Footshape toe box. My toes have have felt like they have plenty of room in these shoes.

I’ve been easing these shoes in because I’ve heard you aren’t just supposed to jump into running in a zero drop shoe, but these shoes seem to be fitting in just fine. I did mention that I had the shin issues, but I think they might have actually been more noticeable in the Adrenalines, and those are my usual shoes, so I’m not blaming either of these pairs of shoes. I think the colder weather makes a difference, since the shin splints often seem to return in December.

Three things were particularly highlighted about Altra by the people we spoke with at The Running Event (including founder Brian Beckstead) — the zero drop, the Footshape toe box and Fit4Her technology.

This means that the shoe is actually created specifically for a woman’s foot. While it’s hard to compare this in particular to other shoes since I never really realized that other shoes weren’t created for women’s feet, I will say that these shoes have felt great and I have been happy with them. I plan to keep easing them into my running routine.

I ran in my Altra Escalante 1.5s on the NCR Trail on Christmas.

Other benefits listed on the Altra website for this shoe, with descriptions taken from the website, include:

  • Innerflex™: Grid-like grooves in the midsole allow your foot to flex while being lighter, for more speed and better performance.
  • FOOTPOD™ Technology: An outsole technology that actually maps the bones and tendons of your foot to help it bend and move naturally.
  • Altra Ego™: Dual-Nature midsole compound with a responsive, yet soft feel for increased energy return.

Basically, these attributes look like they are meant to keep your feet able to move comfortably as you run.

Learn more about the Altra Escalante 1.5 here.

Vooray ACE Backpack

$39.99, Vooray.com

Although clearly not everything could fit in the Vooray ACE Backpack that I received (see above — two pairs of shoes), this actually was the swag bag that I received many of my items in at The Running Event. The Vooray ACE Backpack was packed with things like socks, clothing, nuun tablets, Arcanum activated hemp products, and more.

Here I am riding a scooter in Austin wearing my Vooray ACE Backpack. (Michael Piorunski photo)

Since receiving the backpack — I received it in the black nylon color, although there are plenty of other fun patterns — I used it as a bag to carry things as I took a scooter around Austin with my boyfriend, I used it as my personal item on my flight home, and I took it with me for a couple overnight trips.

I like how the backpack has so many pockets. There’s a pocket on the outside front of the backpack, two side water bottle pockets, and two pockets on the inside. One of the pockets is a smaller mesh pocket and the other is a larger one on the back inside of the bag, and one side seems to have a velvet-like material. I see on the website this is referred to as a laptop pocket.

I did actually cram my laptop into the bag along with a ton of other items when I made it my personal item, but the laptop was already in a bag and I didn’t think to put it just in the pocket. That’s good to know for the future, though.

Here’s what the ACE Backpack looks like open. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

The velvet lining has actually started to come away from the seam on my bag, but I’m not sure if that’s because I stuffed it pretty full to use as that personal item so that I’d only have two bags to bring back with all of my new swag.

For a relatively small bag, it seems like a lot can fit in there. Something I generally travel with that wouldn’t fit in there unless I hardly packed anything else would be running shoes, although Vooray does offer other bags with a dedicated place for shoes.

Learn more about the Vooray ACE Backpack here.

This photo specifically highlights the inside pockets of the Vooray ACE Backpack. To the left of the photo is the back of the backpack, and to the front is the smaller mesh pocket in the inside front. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Bonus: Vooray Active Fanny Pack

$19.99, Vooray.com

After receiving the swag bag items, I also received a Vooray Active Fanny Pack when we talked to the rep from Vooray at The Running Event expo.

I received one in the metallic gem color. I used it for the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon, and I thought it worked great. Although I don’t always reach for fuel when I’m pacing (even though I probably should, but I was fine) because I’m afraid it might throw me off, I liked the ability to separate the different items in the pack — like my phone, fuel and a car key — with the mesh panel inside.

I wore the Vooray Active Fanny Pack that I received at The Running Event for the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon.

The pack seemed to be a good size, and it also has an adjustable waistband. I didn’t need to adjust it during the run, and there weren’t problems with chafing. I’m more likely to use packs like this during races than regular runs because I bring more and I don’t really mind carrying my phone on other runs, and I’m sure I’ll use it again. Unfortunately, I have misplaced it at the moment, but I know it will turn up.

Here are examples of the different patterns available for Vooray bags, as seen at The Running Event. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I also received a Vooray Stride Cinch Backpack as part of my BibRave Secret Santa gift from fellow BibRave Pro Jenna, and I’ve used that for one trip so far. It’s a great bag, and I liked that the button to cinch the top was very easy to use. The pattern is also fun.

Learn more about the Vooray Active Fanny Pack here.

As far as a disclaimer on running shoes, I do always recommend getting fitted for shoes because everyone’s feet and styles of running are different. You can definitely bring one of these up at your local store to see if it will work well for you!

Stay tuned for more reviews that I’ll be putting up this month/this year. Only two more days left in 2019! Below are links to some other posts related to The Running Event.

Read about clothing items I received at The Running Event.

Read about the Zwift app and get a discount for the Zwift RunPod.

Read about my experience at TRE Influencer Day.