Category Archives: running

Jaybird BlueBuds vs Plantronics Backbeat Fit

I love listening to music while I run, and for years I’ve run using basic Apple EarPods (the ones that come with iPhones). Overall, I love these as they are light, fit well in my ears, rarely come out, and don’t cause any pain even when worn for hours.

However, I have one big issue with them – the wires! If my phone is in a back pocket, then I need to run the wires around somehow. This part isn’t too challenging, but it seems no matter what I do, the wires get tangled with my necklace. Yes, I know I could take off the necklace when I’m running and I have done that in the past.

When I have my dog along, sometimes her leash will tangle with the headphone wires, resulting in a brief stop to untangle every one.

If I have layers on, I never remember to put my headphones on before the top layers.  This means that if it warms up and I need to remove a layer, it’s quite an ordeal.  Not a huge problem for a training run, but once during a 5k race, I tried to do this while running and I’m sure it was an interesting thing to watch.

All of these issues prompted me to check out wireless bluetooth headphones.  There are many models these days that pair over bluetooth and this seemed like a perfect solution to my problems!

I have two pairs, Jaybird BlueBuds X and Plantronics Backbeat Fit. I’ve owned the BlueBuds for a few years but didn’t like them enough to wear them all the time, which is a shame given that they were $$$ when I bought them. The Backbeat Fit headphones just arrived last week and I already love them!


Jaybird BlueBuds X Bluetooth Headphones

The Good

Lots of ear tips and ear fins are included so you get a perfect fit (hopefully).
Audio quality
Good enough for me, but I’m not too picky as long as the sound is clear and even.
Battery life
I haven’t really tested this out, as I charge them often and before long runs, but they hold a charge and haven’t died on me yet.
Fairly comfortable to wear for extended periods, with some caveats.
They seem well made and I haven’t had any issues .

The Bad

> $100
I paid a lot for these 3 years ago. They are no longer made but can still be purchased for about 1/2 what I paid. The newer model is also a lot less than the original price, depending on what color you want. In any case, the new ones are also > $100, which is a lot to pay for headphones
Even with all the ear tips and fins, I don’t feel these fit well. They bounce and this causes some noise. If I put the strap in the back over my pony tail or finagle it in other ways, this reduces the bouncing but I haven’t figured out how to eliminate it completely. This happens more so on the right side, possibly due to the controls being on that side. They also don’t seem to stay inside my ear properly either.
Having to keep track of the ear tips and fins is a pain… I am pretty sure I lost the extra ones.
In-ear style blocks a lot of ambient noise (this may be a pro for some, but when running outside, I like to be more aware of my surroundings).
They stick out pretty far and look dorky.
The case for these is cute, but it’s a pain to get the headphones and the charging cable inside and have it close properly.
Figuring out which tips and fins to use was non-trivial for me (and I still don’t feel I did it correctly). You can also install the fins differently and wear these so the cord goes around and over the ear. The directions were hard to follow, and I gave up trying to figure out how to wear them that way. 

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones

The good

< $100
I just got these, so far I feel these fit very well. The cord is just the right length, and I don’t feel they bounce around much at all.
Audio Quality
Great sound quality, nice bass.
Battery life
These should have an 8 hr battery life, same as the BlueBuds.
These are more like Apple’s EarPods so while they do go in your ear they are not “in-ear” style that blocks out all ambient noise.
Lacking the ear fins that the BlueBuds have, these seem very sturdy and unbreakable.
I feel these look a lot better than the BlueBuds!
These came with a neoprene case that can also be used as an armband for a cell phone. The headphones and the charging cable easily fit inside.

The bad

The part that goes over the ear feels like it will become uncomfortable during long runs, and might also be difficult to wear these with sunglasses for an extended period time. I haven’t tried yet, but I will post an update once I do. 


All in all, I like the Plantronics the best. I’m sure some will prefer the in-ear fit of the BlueBuds, however they just aren’t for me. My mom also tried on both pairs, and she preferred the Plantronics as well. I’ll find out this weekend how they do for a long run!

**** I did not receive any free products or discounts to write this review. Maybe someday I’ll get free stuff in exchange for a fair and honest review??!

target pace or target heart rate?

Every time I sign up for race, I come up with a training plan. I’ve done this since my first 1/2 marathon, and I did it then because I really had no idea what I was doing without a plan, and thought I needed the focus of having a plan. Without it, I don’t think I would have finished the 1/2 marathon.

There’s a plethora of training plans online, and as well as many books on the subject. It can be quite daunting to select a plan. One thing I found particularly challenging was finding a plan that didn’t involve running 4-5 days a week with extremely high mileage. Yes, I understand that a 1/2 marathon requires putting in some miles. 🙂 But I didn’t want to kill myself doing it.

When selecting a training plan the first time around, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was so overwhelmed by the choices, but I found Greg McMillan’s website to be very informative and a personalized plan wasn’t very expensive, so I went for it. I loved that his plans were mostly time based and not mileage based and my personalized plan worked out well. I have used his plans as a baseline ever since.

Recently, I’ve started to feel that my training isn’t getting me where I want to be. I know a huge part of this is consistency, as I will often stop running for weeks, sometimes because of travel or illness or just a lack of time.

Here’s a good example:

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As you can see, I didn’t run very much at the end of February and the beginning of March. I have a really good excuse though, I had a 102 fever and a horrid cough. Since then, I’ve done a good job of running at least 3 times a week, consistently.

I’m also curious to see if running based on target heart rate, and not a target pace will help. I’ve done mostly time based runs at a set target pace, and I’m not seeing the improvements I would like. My endurance is definitely better, but the speed improvements are very little. In some ways, I feel the target pace is holding me back, as I’m trying to hit that, when in reality, I could be running faster.

So far this year, about 1/2 of my miles have been outside. This is a big change for me, and I’ve noticed that when I set the pace based on what I feel is easy, I’m running faster than my target pace I would set on the treadmill. And not only does it feel good to run at the faster speed, it feels easier. I had one run on the treadmill last month where I felt I could barely run for a minute without wanting to stop and feeling completely out of it.

While writing this, it occurred to me that maybe I don’t need a target anything. I should run however feels good on that particular day. If I’m aiming for a speed workout, something that pushes me, and for an easy run, whatever is comfortable.

when everything for your run goes wrong…

Have you ever had a training run where it seemed like everything went wrong? That was my experience tonight.

First it was my stomach, and I almost didn’t run, but I’d been telling myself all day that I wouldn’t skip it. And that ended up being fine. But then my  new custom orthotics seemed too narrow for my shoes (and it turns out I think they don’t work in that pair of running shoes). Then my shoes were laced too tight. And my pants were too loose. It was hot in the garage (where my treadmill is) so I had to stop to open the window. It was getting dark, so I stopped again to turn on the lights. Then my leg was itchy. And my shoes were still too tight. Oh, and these are not the shoes I wanted to wear, oops!

The final thing was when I noticed the treadmill belt was shifted to left, of course I had to stop, locate the instructions, adjust the belt, run a minute, check, adjust, run and so on, until it was centered again.

Now I’m done, and I have a blister. The orthotics do seem narrow but they look like they fit much better in my Sauconys which are the shoes I meant to wear tonight.

The good news? I ran 2.25 miles which was my target, my knee doesn’t hurt, and nothing super serious actually went wrong. 

Sometimes I feel like my brain wants to trick me into not running, and I have to just push through and do it anyway. This is actually why running in the morning is best for me, less chances to talk myself out of it, as long as I can get out of bed in time!

I have 7 weeks left to train for my next half marathon (Capitola!!!) and I want to make the most of those weeks.