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This month’s Valentine-themed Stride Box contained some useful items but I must say, hands-down, my favorite is the star recovery tool. It’s easy to hold and features five little knobs that knead your muscles and really dig in to work out the knots. The weird thing is, it feels eerily like a hand massaging you! It looks kind of cheezy, but it works. My quads were so sore after navigating the Frostbite 5-Miler’s hills. This little number helped speed up my recovery.

Star Massage Tool Star Massage Tool

I’m a lip balm junkie. I can’t tolerate having dry lips, so I pretty much never go on a longer run – or leave the house ever – without some. This lip balm by Surface contains 50SPF – great for summer- and features a pleasant, subtle mango flavor. It tingles a bit when you apply it, in a nice way.

Surface Mango SPF50 lip balm Surface Mango SPF50 lip balm

Honey Stinger Gluten-Free Waffles are not vegan but they are made with 100% organic ingredients. This brand is pretty well respected.

Honey Stinger Organic Gluten-free Waffle Honey Stinger Organic Gluten-free Waffle Buff Bake Protein Cookie, nekkid Buff Bake Protein Cookie, nekkid Buff Bake Protein Cookie, fully clad Buff Bake Protein Cookie, fully clad

I was most excited – and ultimately most disappointed by the Buff Bake Protein Cookie. Gluten free, non-GMO protein in a “Birthday Cake” flavored cookie! What could go wrong?

First, 360 calories in a single cookie the size of my hand – for 16 grams of protein and a flimsy amount of nutrients (4% iron, 4% vitamin C, 16% calcium). I would rather drink a green smoothie with protein powder which gives me more protein and a more robust nutrition profile with fewer calories. Admittedly, these could prove useful to bring when you’re running long and know you won’t be able to refuel quickly. But there are so many better options available. These are not vegan, but they are gluten-free and non-GMO

Spring Long-Haul Energy Gel Spring Long-Haul Energy Gel

I have not yet tried the Spring Long-Haul Energy Gel but will likely fuel with it during my long run this weekend. Based on the nutrition profile, I already love it, and the ingredients sound like a yummy combination of mostly whole foods: eg, basmati rice, organic banana, peanut butter, organic honey, molasses, chia seeds, and sea salt. The only thing I don’t like about most energy gels is that they usually provide empty calories – carbs and not much more. Spring Gel packs a nutritional punch: for 100 calories, you get 14 grams of carbs (a bit low for an energy gel) but 138% RDA of vitamin C, 2% calcium and 4% iron. Contrast that with the cookie nutrients above.

Hyper Go Sport Wipes Hyper Go Sport Wipes

These Hyper-Go After-Sports Wipes are a great idea– disposable clean-up towels for when you don’t have time to shower after a workout. I think they’d be particularly great after races, since you usually hang around and socialize – and people are more likely to socialize with people who smell good.

This month's Stride Box also came with these cute Valentine stickers. This month’s Stride Box also came with these cute Valentine stickers. ...And the usual recipe and workout cards – which are always fun. …And the usual recipe and workout cards – which are always fun.

As usual, the total value of the items you receive exceeds the $15 price, this month, by more than $3:

  • Buff Bake Cookie: $2.42
  • Spring Long-Haul Energy Gel: $2.20
  • Honey Stinger GF Waffle: $1.49
  • Hyper-Go After-Sport Wipe: $1.99
  • Surface Lip Balm:  $3.00
  • Star Recovery Massager: $6.99

Total retail value: $18.09

Stride Box is a great gift for runners, or a fun splurge for yourself if you enjoy sampling the latest running gear and nutrition. A Stride Box subscription costs $15 per month. Sign up here.