Friday, June 18, 2010

Stuffitts Shoe Savers

I sweat. A lot. Especially in the hot, humid Alabama summers.  Even if I run at 5:00 am I'm dripping wet after a few miles. Alright, enough of the visual. The fact is though, that in addition to my clothes being soaked, so are my shoes. I used to dry them out in between runs by stuffing them with newspapers. It's a simple solution that works pretty well, but it can be pretty messy and does nothing to help with the odor.

About a year ago I saw an ad for a product called Stuffit Shoe Savers, which I learned were shoe inserts designed to absorb moisture and eliminate odor. I'm usually a skeptic when it comes to things like this. They sounded like a gimmick and were a little pricey to boot. But I was really tiring of the newspaper solution, so, with some trepidation, I ordered a pair and some replacement inserts from their their website.

The Stuffitts ($24.95/pair) arrived a couple of days later. The first thing I noticed was how good they smelled. The inserts are breathable pouches filled with red cedar chips, which is great if you love the outdoors like me. Each insert is squeezed into a nylon sleeve the shape of a foot, which is then "stuffed" into one's shoes. The "feet," which come in various sizes, are attached to one another by a nylon leash about 48" long. This is a feature I like quite a bit, since it makes carrying them (and the shoes) easy and provides a way to hang  them up. I have a habit of dangling mine from the nearest doorknob.

Do they work? The answer is yes, very well. The cedar chips do an excellent job of quickly sucking the moisture out of my shoes and neutralizing the stench. I never timed it myself, but the company's website says they absorb "nearly 100% of wetness and odor-causing bacteria, doing most of the work in under an hour." I have no reason to doubt this claim.

Suggestions for Stuffits? In fact, I would like to see them modify the design a little. The current method has it so the end of the sleeve is permanently stuffed with something to make it look like toes. This means the cedar can't get to the tip of the shoe. Despite this, I haven't noticed the toe of my shoe remaining wet, so perhaps it's just not necessary.

Aside from the product itself, I'd also like to see the company provide more information on their website. I know it's a simple product, but there's not a lot to go on. For instance, you'd never know how often you should change out the cedar inserts unless you can read the fine, blurry print on the product picture. Incidentally, the recommendation is to replace them every six months ($9.95).

Do I recommend Stuffits? Whole heartedly, yes. Minor quibbling aside, the product does what it claims and the cost isn't all that unreasonable after the initial purchase. In fact, I think I'm due for some new inserts!


Disclaimer: This product review has not been solicited, nor have I been compensated in any way by the manufacturer. This blog's terms of use disclaimer can be viewed here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Of the many reasons people run, stress relief has to be up at the top of the list. Pose the question and you'll get a lot of responses like these I pulled from a Boston Globe online feature called "Why I Run."

"I run because during that time my mind stops worrying and my body relaxes. I am in complete control during my runs. It is my stress relief and my time to focus on life." -- Sara, 26, Worcester, MA

"Running is my catharsis." -- Martina McPherson, 28, Brookline, MA

"Running has always been there for me, through the ups and downs of life, I've always been able to lace up my sneakers, head outside and pound the pavement and every bad thing just melts away, even if its only for a little while. It brings peace to a chaotic world." -- Jim Getchell, 30, Portland, ME

And here's a snippet of what I submitted to the same Globe feature on April 17th:

"I run because it's cathartic. If I'm having a bad day it centers me and makes me feel better."

Most of us probably turn to running at some point as a means of therapy, and, scientifically speaking, there's good reason for it. The endorphins produced during a run are known to produce a "feeling of well-being" and work as "natural pain relievers."
[1]  It's the perfect answer to the long day at work, escape from a demanding family life, and distraction from life's larger events.

The problem with relying on running as a form of therapy is that it alone can't solve all our problems. In fact, doing so can often lead to new, physical ones. Runners are typically intense, competitive individuals that are accustomed to pushing their bodies to the limit. Combine these traits with the desire to "work out" a problem and you have a recipe for fatigue or injury. Simply put, we don't always know when to quit.

As runners we are used to listening to our bodies when it comes to the physical, but we must also apply the same common sense to matters of the mind. If a run isn't leaving us feeling better we need to recognize that and act accordingly. Pushing the pace harder or the distance longer won't always produce the desired affect. We must remain self aware and seek out other stress-relief avenues when running doesn't help. Here are some alternatives to consider.[2]

  • Write. It may help to write about things that are bothering you. Write for 10 to 15 minutes a day about stressful events and how they made you feel. Or think about starting a stress journal. This helps you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. After you know, you can find better ways to cope.

  • Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to. Talking with friends, family, a counselor, or a member of the clergy about your feelings is a healthy way to relieve stress.

  • Do something you enjoy. This can be:
    • A hobby, such as gardening.
    • A creative activity, such as writing, crafts, or art.
    • Playing with and caring for pets.
    • Volunteer work.
1. Endorphin. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
2. Stress Management - Ways to Relieve Stress. WebMD. Retrieved June 15, 2010.