About Kate

Kate thanks TRC for introducing her to runcommuting, and is delighted to have wheedled her way into being a contributor. She believes the world would be a better place if more people ran to work. Especially in Sydney, Australia, her home city of 5 million lovely people, all of whom turn into lunatics when they get into a car.

The New Run Commuters – March 2017

Runner’s World magazine (Oct 2016) recently gave Seattle the silver medal for number 2 best running city in America (behind San Fran). Aaron Mercer, our runcommuter for this month, is a Seattle resident who uses his runcommuting to make the most of what the city has to offer. He braves the state’s rainy, wet conditions to runcommute almost every day. Aaron is helping his work colleagues stay healthy, too.

A scientist at Novo Nordisk, Aaron is also the Wellness Committee chair and promotes running to other employees. Aaron says he enjoys exploring his city on his runcommutes. He manages to incorporate cafe-testing into these runs as well, taking advantage of Seattle’s abundance of coffee joints. An excellent idea for all runcommuters: the combination of running and coffee is a classic, and what better way to start (or end) the day…especially when it’s raining!

—————————————————–

 

Runner Basics

  • Name: Aaron Mercer

  • Age: 33

  • City/State: Seattle, WA

  • Profession/Employer: Research Scientist, Novo Nordisk

  • Number of years running: 17

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 4

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trail, but I have learned to love the road again with all of my run commuting.

 

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Formerly an Osprey Manta AG 28, but I recently made the switch to the IAMRUNBOX Pro.

  • Shoes: Anything around 7 – 8 oz in weight from Brooks or Saucony. Their shoes fit my narrow feet better than most companies’.

  • Clothing: A mix of tech shirts and shorts, as well as race shirts. I never match, because run commuting is about form over fashion!

  • Outerwear: I have a few running jackets from Brooks, but I typically layer a short sleeve and long sleeve tech shirt because winters are pretty mild in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Headgear: I typically don’t wear a hat but I will wear sunglasses in the warm/sunny months.

  • Lights: Black Diamond Sprinter. It has good lumens for the dark and drizzly evening commutes in Seattle.

  • Hydration: I’ll hold a water bottle if I bring anything at all. I tend to only bring extra hydration for runs longer than 10 miles (16km), or when the temperatures get too warm outside (above 75F).

 

Aaron Mercer

Aaron’s runcommuting route.

Beer Run!! Aaron and his friend Pete ran 10 miles between 5 breweries. Did they follow it with a coffee run?

Aaron’s runcommute pack, in his home’s appropriately white, scandi interior. 

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

Evening traffic in Seattle can be atrociously slow, and my run commute many days is as fast or faster than most forms of transport. My office is next to Amazon’s ever-expanding campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, so traffic is almost always a grind. Runcommuting also gives me a chance to get in miles without cutting into my family time outside of work.

How often do you run commute?

2-4 days per week after work, but even on my “non-running” days I add in 2 miles of running between the most efficient bus lines to get home [editor’s note: we consider any combo of running+vehicular transport to be runcommuting! So, Aaron runcommutes more than he admits ;-)]

How far is your commute?

10.5 miles (16km) for the full run, and around 2 miles if I mix in bus commuting.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Either, depending on what leftovers I have at home, and how much volume I have available in my backpack. My go-to spot for eating out is a Vietnamese food truck called Xplosive that seems to live on the Amazon campus — their vermicelli bowl is my favorite way to get veggies/carbs/protein when I’m in a hurry. I’m also fortunate that my job provides catered lunch twice a week.

What do you like most about run commuting?

1. I enjoy the efficient use of my time, since I get my commute and exercise finished in one activity.

2. Runcommuting keeps me disciplined with my eating and sleep habits to keep up with the demands of 20-40 miles of running per week.

3. It gives me a chance to explore the city. Seattle has a lot of history and interesting neighborhoods, so runcommuting gives me a great opportunity to scout the area. It’s also a good excuse to try one of the dozens of independent coffee shops here.

What are the weather conditions like for your runcommute?

Temperatures are always fairly mild in Seattle, but there are many days with rain and slick pavement. True to the stereotypes it is cool, wet, and cloudy for most of the year. It’s good running weather even if footing can get a bit tricky.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work? 

No, but I do see other people running with backpacks in the city. I would assume that they are runcommuting as well. There are many, many people in my office and in Seattle who bike commute, however.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

If I’m not running, I will either car pool, or mix in 2 miles of running to get to-and-from express bus lines. Once Seattle finishes expanding its light rail network, I will be two blocks from one of the stations.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Invest in decent gear, and monitor your shoes for wear and tear. It’s hard to keep up with runcommuting multiple days per week with busted gear or a busted body.

Anything else that you would like to include?

My PR for a slightly longer run commute (11.46 miles) was set in October with a time of 1:18:32 (6:52/mile pace). I strive to beat that pace every time I run home!

I chair the Wellness Committee for Novo Nordisk in Seattle. My role is to oversee the budget for sports and events, as well as organizing our office’s participation in the annual JDRF Beat the Bridge Race. I encourage all Seattleites to run the race, and to join Team Novo Nordisk if they would like some camaraderie!

Even runcommuters need a holiday…Aaron in Tucson.

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

The New Run Commuters – January 2017

Our first runcommuter profile for 2017 is Bon Crowder, who also heralds another first for TRC, as she is the only runcommuter featured on this site to hail from Texas. Bon is a teacher who runs to work every day of the week. Through her That’sMath startup company Bon is educating the youth. But she is also an example to her own children in her active lifestyle. Bon shows that it is possible to be a mom, a businesswoman, an educator and also maintain a daily fitness routine — by runcommuting. Keep up the brilliant work in 2017, Bon, and we look forward to seeing your giant chicken impression on Youtube sometime soon….!

—————————————————–

 

Runner Basics

  • Name: Bon Crowder

  • Age: 45

  • City/State: Houston, Texas

  • Profession/Employer: Educator & Founder, That’s Math LLC

  • Number of years running: 11

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 2 or 3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road – although trail is fun, when you’re in Houston it’s kinda dangerous to get too far off the beaten path. 

 

Bon Crowder

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Pink Osprey Tempest 20 (with the backpack “raincoat” thing for those not-so-dry days)

  • Shoes: Brooks Ghost

  • Clothing: Cheap spandex shorts and Duluth Trading Company No-Yank Tank

  • Outerwear: Nike warm stuff (that fuzzy-inside stuff that Nike makes)

  • Headgear: Cap most of the time, but when it’s cold I wear something over my ears 

  • Lights: Headlamp – some cheap kind but it seems to keep going, so I’m running with it #pardonthepun

  • Hydration: Water with lemon juice in a small Osprey reservoir

Runcommute arrival at the halls of learning!

Bon loves running in the rain.

When it gets cold in Texas…..

Bon running on her birthday….to the donut store!

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I just couldn’t find time to run. It made me nuts. So I thought, “Well, dog-gone-it, I’ll just run TO WORK!”

Since the school I was teaching at was only 2.3 miles away, it seemed ideal!

How often do you run commute?

I try to run commute everyday. I don’t buy the parking pass for the garage, so if I don’t run, I’m stuck paying parking.

That’s less of a motivator for me and more of the ideal excuse when others want me to drive and I want to run!

How far is your commute?

Well, theoretically, it’s 17 miles, but I take the bus some of the way. On a good day, I get in about 2.8 miles before the bus and then about 0.9 miles after the bus.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack a lunch. It’s always challenging figuring out the volumes of food and clothing I can carry. If I need a blazer and fancy shoes that aren’t at the office, then it’s likely my lunch is a protein bar.

On casual Friday I can go with a giant salad!

What do you like most about run commuting?

I look cool. Okay, “look” may not be the word. But you definitely gain points with people when you tell them you run to work.

For different people, it’s different reasons. Some people like that I’m not driving so there’re lower car emissions. Some are impressed with my healthier lifestyle. And then some just look at me and think, “She’s out of her mind!”

Oh, and there’re the long races. I ran a half marathon once with no official training. Turns out 10-15 pounds + 2 x day runs in ALL weather really gets you ready for just about anything!

I’m also running the Houston Marathon this weekend. My first!

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work? 

Sadly, no.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

I’m in Texas, so I have a car. My SUV or pickup truck gets me anywhere my feet can’t get me.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Make a list. Laminate it. And check it off every morning. You DO NOT want to get half way to work and think, “Oh, crap, I forgot….”

Anything else that you would like to include?

I’m a mom, wife, math teacher, and founder of a startup. I also blog at MathFour.com and tweet at @MathFour.

And, I can do an amazing impression of a giant chicken…

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

By | 2017-01-12T09:48:29+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L

Is THIS the best run commuting pack…ever?

For some people, perhaps even many people, the answer is yes, the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 is the best run commuting pack ever.

Those who read my review of the OMM 20L will recall that I opened that review with a similar question, and a similar answer. There are reasons for this: firstly, I cannot deny that I enjoy using the question as a rhetorical device, but, secondly and in my defense, I have had the good fortune to test two outstanding run commuting packs this year, both of which are destined to become classics, in my opinion. Both the OMM Adventure Light 20 and the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 are brilliantly designed and made, and both function perfectly for the daily run commuter who totes medium to large loads of clothes/shoes/food.

 

The difference between these two packs is profound, however. The Ultimate Direction Fastpack is what is called a running ‘vest’ in the trail-running world. Right here on TRC Josh reviewed the smaller sibling of the UD Fastpack, the UD Peter Bakwin Signature Series Vest 3.0 (see review), so you may already be familiar with the new generation of running packs invented – and designed for – trail and adventure-running. My ‘Pack Off’ article comparing the relative merits and downsides of the two styles is coming to TRC soon!

The UD Fastpack 20 is across-between the traditional and the vest style. It is not a compromise, however. It is a fully functioning backpack with all the advantages (and possibly disadvantages) of no waist strap and double sternum straps on wide chest straps, instead.

Test Model

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L

Size: Small/Medium

Carrying Capacity: 20L

Cost: US $105

Add-on: Hi-Vis Rain Cover (X-Small)

Performance and Evaluation

For run commuters who have struggled with the combination of traditional backpacks and running, the UD Fastpack may be the answer. Say goodbye to the uncomfortable waist belt that pummels your stomach and bowels, and the (especially for women) awkward sternum strap that is never quite in the right position, and the shoulder straps that (again, especially for women) don’t sit comfortably on the torso. Embrace the freedom and comfort of the vest pack and run until you drop!

One of the recurring questions about backpacks is whether or not they can be tightened onto the runner sufficiently to prevent swaying and bouncing whilst running. Some people have suggested that the lack of a waist belt on vest-style and hybrid packs is responsible for a greater sway and bounce. Professional US ultra-runner Megan Hicks wrote a review of the UD Fastpack in which she says she wouldn’t use it in the Marathon des Sables, because it is less stable than traditional backpacks with a waist belt. However, Megan runs at an average of 10km an hour during the MdS, for an average of 6 hours a day. I run a lot slower, and for approximately 1 hour per run-commute leg. I have found the Fastpack to be just as stable as my traditional backpacks, with the same load (medium-full) and at the same speed. Perhaps, like Megan, those who run very fast with a very full pack will find the Fastpack sways more. Run commuters who fall into this category are lucky, and get the satisfaction of being fast to compensate for having to wear a traditional backpack! Seriously, though, unless the pack is very full — for example with everything you’d need for a three-day self-supported back-country camping trip — you’re unlikely to feel any difference in the movement between this pack and a waist belt/sternum strap pack.

Pros

Very comfortable, particularly for the internal (and external!) organs!

Multiple run-accessible storage areas

Very lightweight

Advanced hydration system

Double sternum straps

Not as ‘action sports’ as many other vest packs

Double sternum straps

Did I mention that it’s super comfy?!

Cons

Expensive

Slightly floppier, more sporty, less ‘office-y’ looking than many traditional backpacks

No rain cover

Sway/bounce may be very very slightly more evident than with a traditional backpack (though I did not experience this)

May be too large for smaller or thinner people

Chest and straps

This is where the action is on this pack. The vest-style flaps that come from the inner-back edge of the main compartment, over the shoulders and down the chest, are key to the comfort of the Fastpack 20. These flaps feature large pockets that can hold water bottles, smartphones or food, for easy access whilst on the run. Running horizontally between the two flaps are two chest straps, which can be adjusted vertically by sliding them up or down their rails, similar to the more limited adjustments that can be made to the single sternum strap usually found on a traditional backpack. Together, the two sternum straps on the vest pack secure the chest straps tighter or looser against the torso, and thereby cinch the pack more tightly or otherwise to the body.

The two sides of the chest have a different configuration of pockets. On the left is a water-bottle pocket with a pull-cord tightener, and underneath this is a smaller zip-up pocket that can easily hold a Clif bar and a credit card and car key. On the right is a pocket that is closed flat against the chest strap by a vertical zip. Opening the zip gives you room to stuff a water-bottle into that pocket, by virtue of a small expanding pleat. When the zip is closed the pocket still has an open top, and is the perfect shape and tightness to hold in a smartphone. Underneath this zipping pocket is a smaller pocket about the same size as the one at the bottom of the right chest strap. The one on the left is closed by a Velcro fold-over tab, however. This means you wouldn’t want to put anything precious in it, only cliff bars/food, as there are gaps where a key could potentially escape. All in all, the chest pockets are very well thought-out, and allow access to lots of food, water, phone and other necessities, whilst on the run.

 

Each sternum strap can also be tightened or loosened. Together with the strap that connects the bottom corner edges of the main compartment to the bottom corner edge of both vest flaps, this allows for further customization.  Playing around with different strap positions and tightness is worth it when you first get the pack, as the different configurations can change the feeling of wearing the pack a lot.

An example of the chest straps at three different positions can be seen in the photos below.

Sides

On either side is a large, mesh water-bottle pocket. It is not closed, but an elasticized rim keeps the bottles in. This elastic is not as tight as on some packs I have worn. Once I took out two full bottles in these pockets when there was nothing really in the main compartment, and the lack of padding from the main pack meant that there was more leeway for the bottles to agitate out of these mesh pockets. They didn’t actually fall out, but I was worried once or twice, and I had to keep checking… Otherwise, if the main compartment is at least half full, the water bottles feel pretty secure, even when running fast.

Main Compartment and Access Rolltop

The main compartment is like a sack, and it closes in the roll-top style, first being pressed shut with Velcro and then rolled over like rolling up a carpet, until it is tight against the pack. At this point each end of the roll is clipped in to a strap that comes up each side. The strap is then pulled tight, cinching the whole thing vertically while the roll secures it horizontally. This is a very effective closure method, though it does take a few more seconds to do than a single zip would (such as is found on the Osprey Stratos and Talon series, for example). The strap on each side that cinches down the roll does create the only annoyance I have experienced with this pack – the long, dangling excess lengths of each side strap can whip around as you run, sometimes even coming round and lashing you in the front (possibly as punishment for the evil thoughts I have about car drivers…). You can’t trim them off—as Josh shows you how to do here in the ‘Pack Hacks’ series—because the extra length is needed on occasions when you fill the pack to full capacity. (See photos) What you can do is thread the excess strap into one of the daisy-chain loops on the front of the pack, which keeps them out of the way.

The main compartment itself is huge and empty, awaiting your clothes and lunch. If you don’t put anything in the main compartment, but do fill the front pockets with heavy items (such as full water bottles), you may find the front pulls forward/down, which can cause pressure on the back of your neck. This is an unlikely situation to be running in, however. I did this once, just for the experiment to see what would happen, but in the normal run of things it’s not a configuration most run commuters will want to try. If you do, for some reason, want to carry tons of water but nothing much else, it’s better for the weight distribution to put the bottles in the side pockets of the main compartment, behind and under your arms. This scenario is not fool-proof either, however…(see comment in ‘Sides’, below).

Back

The back of the pack consists of a machine-knit fabric that is slightly thicker than t-shirt material, overlaying a nylon or other material than can just barely by glimpsed underneath.

There are no seams on this back panel, making it very smooth against the back. The whole back panel as well as the backing on both over-the-shoulder and down the chest vest flaps is a single piece of material. There are no seams or joins anywhere where the pack touches the wearer, except for where the yellow material meets the soft grey edging material. This trimming material is also soft. The pack did not cause any chafing on my back at all, ever.

Inside the main compartment of the pack is a Velcro-closed compartment that holds a foam pad cut into the shape of the back of the pack, and which gives the pack a firm, stable, back padding. This foam pad is smooth foam on the side that faces into the pack. On the side that sits against the wearer’s back, the foam pad has many little nipple-bumps all over it, for massage-style comfort. This pad can be taken out of the pack and used to sleep on etc when you’re doing a stage-race in the Sahara Desert, or when you get tired on the way home from work and want to take a quick nap in the park.

 

Hydration System

The Fastpack 20L does not come with a bladder or bottles, but hydration compatibility is one of its design priorities. There is a dedicated hydration bladder sleeve inside the main compartment. Immediately above this is a Velcro ‘hook’ for hanging the bladder from (so it doesn’t slump down into the sleeve). Above this, in the center of the top of the pack, underneath the grab-handle, is the hole for the bladder hose. There are two elastic/nylon strips on each vest flap near your clavicle bone for the hose to route through. Then there are two large mesh pockets on either side of the pack, as mentioned above, for water bottles. Finally (sort of), there is a pull-cord-closing bottle pocket on the left vest strap. If all this still didn’t give you enough storage for fluids, there is also the zip-closing pocket on the right vest strap, which can be opened wide enough to hold a 600ml bottle if necessary.

 

Above: An example of the amount of liquid you can carry in the UD Fastpack when simply using the designated pockets: 2L bladder, 3 x 750ml bottles, 1 x 420ml softflask. Of course, if you wanted to, you could also put a mini-keg in the main compartment….

Conclusion

So, how does the UD Fastpack 20L perform as a daily pack for run commuters? The answer is: extremely well…. For some, this will be the perfect run commute pack and, like the OMM 20L pack, the only pack they’ll need for both the daily run commute and the Marathon des Sables or the 4 Deserts adventure races!

Additional Pictures

By | 2016-12-21T12:47:00+00:00 December 21st, 2016|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |5 Comments

The New Run Commuters – December 2016

Emphasizing TRC’s global reach, this month’s featured runcommuter is James Moore, from London, England. Like our profiled runcommuter from earlier in the year, Julien Delange, James uses runcommuting to train for ultra distance trail races. (Also like Julien–and TRC’s own contributor Nicholas Pedneault–James uses Hoka One One shoes). James says that runcommuting helps him leave work at a reasonable time; the knowledge that he’s going to run home gets him out the door of the office.

On days when he’s catching transport home, he finds it easier to get stuck at work for hours of overtime. An excellent point in favor of runcommuting! As the photos show, most of James’ runcommuting during the winter months is done in the dark. But he doesn’t need to wear a headlamp, as the London streets are so well lit. Our first British runcommuter, Georgia Halls, also mentioned London’s great lighting. Is this the same for you in your winter runcommute? Or are headlamps necessary? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

—————————————————–

 

Runner Basics

  • Name: James Moore

  • Age: 27

  • City/State: London, England

  • Profession/Employer: Public Health Doctor

  • Number of years running: Ever since school but only properly for the last two years.

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 10-15 marathons and ultras (distances over marathon 42.195km) and multiple smaller parkruns of 5kms.

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trail.

James Moore

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 5 Set Hydration Backpack – Black, it’s the same vest I use for all my long runs and has just enough room to carry any clothes I need to take home.

  • Shoes: Hoka OneOne Clifton 2, and a generic Karrimor road shoe.

  • Clothing: I like to try and keep things simple and not overthink this. I do have a few essentials I always use and these tend to be the branded gear. Other than that I tend to wear generic shorts and usually a technical t-shirt from a previous marathon. Karrimor/Nike leggings, Underarmor or Nike warm base layer and CEP compression calf sleeves. These form the key parts of my kit alongside Karrimor sports socks. 

  • Outerwear: I have a few outer shells I rotate and my favorite is an Adidas black parkrun version. I wouldn’t usually use a waterproof as I can just as easily jump in the shower when I get home. I do always carry a light berghaus fleece in case I have to abort the run or it gets uncomfortably cold.

  • Headgear:  Either a lightweight or warm buff dependent on the weather. The run commutes tend to be slow pace so can get a little chilly.

  • Lights: I am lucky/unlucky in that my whole route is lit by street lamps so doesn’t require additional lighting.

  • Hydration: Salomon soft flasks with water or just a bottle of coke/water if I haven’t brought the flasks.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

The main reason for me was efficiency. I wanted to add training into my week and a run commute seemed the easiest way to add miles without sacrificing so much of my spare time it became a burden. A few friends have trained for marathons and ultras in the past and the training really takes up their whole lives, by adding a run commute I can get 20 – 50 extra miles each week with a personal cost of an hour and a half. The fact that this also helps to reduce my personal carbon footprint is an additional bonus.

The other aspect is over the last five years, I’ve gone from a busy and hectic job as a hospital doctor to specializing in public health, a much more sedentary job role. Adding in a run commute ensures my health doesn’t suffer from a less active job.

How often do you run commute?

I’m gradually building up, but currently 2 – 4 times a week on my journey home. I would love to run in the mornings, but unfortunately running to work is simply not possible due to a lack of changing/showers at my current workplace.

How far is your commute?

10 miles is the shortest route if I run the whole way and is almost a straight line. I’m hoping to build this up over the winter by taking a more scenic route to allow me to not worry so much about weekend mileage and improve the training effect of the back-to-back run commutes.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I try and bring a packed lunch in most days, as I tend to do my run commute in the evenings which means I have the ability to bring in any food I want for lunch. Tending to go for a salad at lunch, I do sometimes end up with a stash of Tupperware containers in my locker.

What do you like most about run commuting?

The freedom of letting go after work allows you to unwind whilst adding some great training into otherwise wasted commuting time. So many people say they are too busy to train but my run commute takes me maybe 20 minutes longer than by transport and is leading to improved fitness, performance, and mental wellbeing and is infinitely more pleasurable than being packed like sardines in an underground carriage.

I find that sometimes when you are not run commuting you find yourself working later and later in the office, or you keep thinking about work on your journey. When running I have a set time to get out the door and as soon as I’ve started my mind is wandering off into the podcasts I listen to.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work? 

Being in London it sometimes seems as though everyone cycles or gets the underground, but once you are out on your feet you realise just how many people are out there run commuting. In my public health job, several colleagues also run commute and watching Strava it is clear that more and more people are using the run commute as part of their daily routine and training programme.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

When I’m not running, I have a short walk to a bus, a 20 minute bus ride, and then a further 20 minutes on the London underground. I try and ensure I take advantage of the days I don’t run by transporting lunch boxes or clothes home.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

The biggest problem for me is the planning of the run and working out the problems that you might come up against in running home. I’ve managed to get around this through a few simple changes. I always make sure I have a couple of plastic bags at work so I can wrap up any clothes I may need for the next day to stop them getting wet from rain or sweat. I keep a smart pair of shoes in the office and one at home so meetings the next day can’t prevent a run and I try and ensure I always have a warm ‘running’ layer at work so if I chose to wear something else the cold never stops me.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I regularly tweet and occasionally blog through @mooreultra on twitter and readers can ask further questions or may be interested in future articles and shared content through this.

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

Review: OMM Adventure Light 20 Backpack

The Best Run Commuting Backpack Ever?

OMM (standing for Original Mountain Marathon) is a brand well-known to UK and Euro trail runners, but it has yet to become popular in the US, which is a pity. I would go so far as to say this is a ‘best-kept secret’ of running packs. The OMM 20L may be the best run commuting backpack ever, and for those so inclined, it doubles as the best multi-day trail running pack ever, too! It is relatively cheap, hugely comfortable, robust, thoughtfully designed, and has tons of storage room.

For these reasons, no doubt, it has been the backpack of choice for the winners of some epic races: this year alone Eion Keith was wearing it when he won the notoriously grueling Spine Race in England – 268 miles non-stop over snowy English high country in mid-winter. Elspeth Luke wore it to run 1100k over Scottish mountains in record time. And it’s not just for cold-weather conditions: Aussie pro racer Samantha Gash wore it to run the 4 Deserts races across –as the name implies–four of the world’s serious deserts. Many athletes use this pack at the 6-days, 250km stage-race in the Moroccan desert, the Marathon des Sables.

So, how does such a hardcore pack work for everyday run commuters who just want to run an hour to work through suburban streets? Brilliantly, that’s how!

 

 

Test Model

OMM Adventure Light 20

Size: One size fits all

Carrying Capacity: 20L, 1220.5 cu. in.

Cost: US $70.19, GBP54, EU78.95

Add-on: Dry-bag, 20L

Best for:

  • Run commuters who carry larger loads on most run commutes

  • One backpack for both a daily run commute pack in the city and for epic runs/races such as the Marathon des Sables!

  • Run commuters with shorter torsos

Performance and Evaluation

Outstanding performance in a wide range of conditions. The OMM 20L is very comfortable, and performs brilliantly as a daily run commuting backpack when carrying medium to large loads. Also performs at the extreme level when used as an adventure racing pack on multi-day or stage races such as the Marathon des Sables. It says something about the versatility of this pack that many runners have used it in stage-races in the climates of both the Sahara Desert in temperatures up to 50C, and in the British winter in high mountain snow in temperatures that drop to -10C. Clearly, the OMM Adventure Light can handle extremes.  It will easily handle whatever you can throw at it on a daily run commute.

For those who often run commute with a very small load, such as a shirt and thin slacks, it is possible to cinch down the OMM Adventure Light 20 tightly by running a thin elastic cord through the eyelets on the front designed for that purpose. There is no cinching cord included for this purpose, however. The front buckle strap does pull the pack quite tightly together on a vertical axis, but not horizontally.

While this pack is certainly one of the least obtrusive full-size packs to use even when carrying a small load (ie. it is not ‘too much’ pack as others would be), I’d go for a smaller pack if you really aren’t going to carry much ever. A mostly-empty pack is just unnecessary now that there are so many smaller packs on the market which are designed to be comfortable with smaller loads. I have not tested the smaller OMM packs (13, 10 and 8Ls), but if their quality is similar to that of the Adventure Light, it would definitely be worth giving them a try.

Sometimes, it rains. We run commuters have to run in rain at times, as Kyle discusses in his classic ‘How to RAIN commute’ post.

To guard against sweat seepage or sudden unexpected rainstorms, a precaution is to always put your clothes into a dry bag — which will also compress them — before loading them into the main compartment. Or, there is the option of a small, external rain-cover instead.  

As mentioned above, the main compartment and the waist-belt pockets of the OMM 20L are made from a very light material that appears to be water repellent. This makes sense, given that it is designed to be used in adventure/nature races, where rain and water are common. This material does work. A few times when I thought it wasn’t going to rain I didn’t bother to use a dry bag and got caught in brief showers. My clothes remained dry. However, in prolonged rain or heavy downpours, water would soak through onto the contents. 

 

 

 

What I Liked

Comfort

Lightness

Size

Pocket distribution/design

Thoughtful overall design

Price

 

 

What I Didn’t Like

The location of the closing clip for the main compartment

 

Backpack Details

Front

The closing clip for the main compartment is at the bottom edge of the front of the pack, vertically. This is unusual. It took me ages to get used to, and for weeks I kept trying to open the pack using the plastic buckle that is situated on the top lid of the pack, where the clip is found on most bags. I’m still not convinced the bottom edge is a great location for the opening clip.

Sides

On the lower half of each side of the main compartment is a mesh pocket with elasticized top edge. They are water-bottle pockets, and have been designed with great consideration for the needs of adventure runners, for whom hydration is essential.  The pockets are deep, each amply holding a 600mL bottle. This is true even when the main compartment of the pack is full. The other brilliant thing about their design is that they are angled slightly backwards, so that the top of the water bottle is tilted fractionally towards the direction you are facing. This makes it easier to pull the bottles out and put them back in, while running. The bottles don’t jump out of these pockets even when there isn’t much in the main compartment of the pack. Overall, excellent design and performance.

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

The main compartment is basically a cylindrical sack with a drawstring closure. Over this fits a hood that buckles down with a strap that runs vertically down the front of the backpack and clips to the lower quarter of the front of the pack (the ‘weird’ strap described above). The main compartment holds a LOT of stuff. You could easily get a medium-thickness winter coat in here along with shoes, clothes and lunch.  

As you can see in the photo above, there is a zipped pocket on the top of the hood that covers the main drawstring compartment of the pack. This zipped pocket is almost the same width across as the hood itself, so it can hold a wallet and phone, or even a small Tupperware container, easily.

Back, shoulder straps and waist belt

The padding on the OMM Adventure Light 20 is generous, light and comfortable. It is also positioned where you need it and not where you don’t. The back is kept firm and self-supporting by a removable foam pad that sits inside the main compartment in its own sleeve. This pad is so light, and helps keep the overall structure of the pack so comfortable, that after I tried running once with the pad removed I resolved never to do so again — it’s simply more of a gain to have the foam pad in there.

There are two identical pockets on either side of the waist belt. Both pockets close with zips. They are large enough to fit a smartphone, and there is some flexibility as the lower half of each pocket is made of a mesh that stretches slightly. I found these pockets to be very useful for carrying my phone, food snacks, and accessories like gloves, hat or headlamp.

 

Hydration System

The OMM Adventure Light  20 does not come with a hydration bladder or bottles. As discussed above, the side bottle pockets are perfectly designed and executed for their purpose. With both bottle pockets carrying 600ml — or 750ml at a pinch — bottles, this would give you 1.2L – 1.5L fluid. You could also remove the foam back pad from its dedicated sleeve and put your hydration pouch in there. There is no other pocket in the main compartment to hold a hydration bladder, and unless you had a completely full load it would slosh around a bit if in the main area.

Conclusion

A top-drawer backpack for adventure running AND run commuting!

Additional Pictures

The New Run Commuters – May 2016

This month we are proud to present our first British run commuter, Georgia Halls! Georgia lives and runcommutes in London. As the first Brit to be featured on this site, Georgia represents the huge number of London runcommuters from what is arguably the most thriving run-commuting metropolis of the world.

Georgia has organised things so that her runcommuting fits into her marathon training schedule. Weather forecasts are crucial to Georgia; she checks the upcoming days’ weather predictions and plans to run on only the nicer days. Georgia also has a refreshing attitude to the timing/speed of her runcommute, paying attention to how she feels during each run, and in response running “that little bit faster or slower depending on how I’m feeling”. A very wise method of staying free from injury and exhaustion. Georgia uses Nike + to track her runs, and provided us with some classic ‘London’ photos from her route – including a daffodil lawn.

Thanks for being our first London run commuter, Georgia!

—————————————————–

Runner Basics

  • Name: Georgia Halls

  • Age: 24

  • City/State: London, England

  • Profession/Employer: Assistant Psychologist

  • Number of years running: 2

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 2-3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer trail, but that’s very limited in London!

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Reebok — don’t know the model name.

  • Shoes: Nike Air Zoom Odyssey

  • Clothing: Usually Runderwear pants (brilliant runners underwear – no chaffing and sweat wicking), Nike leggings, t-shirt, gloves and jumper (dependent on the tempterature!) But always, my Lululemon headband!

  • Outerwear: I’ve actually been meaning to buy a wind-proof or water-resistant jacket for ages, but they cost a lot and the weather doesn’t get too extreme in London – especially for short commuting runs.

  • Headgear: Always a headband – useful in the winter to keep my ears warm but the main purpose is actually because my headphones ALWAYS fall out my ears when I’m running which I find really annoying – I clearly have odd shaped ears!

  • Lights: I should probably be better with this – but London roads are generally well lit so it’s not something I worry about. Also my rucksack is reflective.

  • Hydration: For short run commutes I don’t run with water, just drink afterwards. But for long distance runs, either water or lucozade depending on the distance.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I started running to work originally because I found public transport very expensive for such a short distance, and it was the summer time, so I felt that I probably sweated just as much on the tube as I would running to work.

How often do you run commute?

At the moment, only once or twice a week as part of my marathon training, however, I can’t wait until it starts getting warmer again and my training has finished so that I can get back to 3 or 4 times a week :-)

How far is your commute?

It’s just over 5 miles or 9km.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I think this is where my organization is very beneficial – I make sure I take 2 pack lunches the day before my run commute so that I don’t have to run with a pack lunch. I don’t mind doing it, but it makes the rucksack a tiny bit heavier (and my food ends up quite mushed!).

What do you like most about run commuting?

I love the freedom of run commuting – I don’t have to wait for the bus, or squish onto the tube and stand awkwardly close to a stranger. I get to be the person running past the people stuck in traffic, and detour through the nice park if I want to, or go that little bit faster or slower depending on how I’m feeling. It’s completely my time. But during training, it also gives me more time in my evenings to do other activities, which is invaluable, as my training is completed before my work day has begun!

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

I think there are lots of run commuters in London, I always pass quite a few on my morning route and if you’re in central London then they are everywhere! It’s great to see.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

I usually cycle, unless I’m injured and then I very reluctantly get on the bus and end up so jealous of anybody I see running or cycling, especially in the summer months.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Be organized! It makes such a difference as to whether it becomes a hassle or an integrated part of your week. For example, if running to work, maybe bring in your change of clothes or lunch the day before and leave it by your desk/in a locker. And if you’re running home, consider leaving unnecessary things at work to bring back the next day. Oh, and invest in a good rucksack!

Anything else that you would like to include?

Run commuting can be so enjoyable! It takes a while to get into the routine, but start by committing to running to or from work one day a week and just give it a go. And if you see the 5-day forecast and it says it’s going to be lovely weather on certain days – organize your timetable so that you can run on those days, makes such a difference!

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:27+00:00 May 2nd, 2016|Categories: General, People|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Review: Deuter Speedlite 10

This small, light backpack is simple yet sturdy and is perfect for a certain type of runcommuter. It is about as basic as you can get in a pack designed specifically for running/sports. The Speedlite 10 is a great runcommuting pack for those who value durablity, quality, and simplicity, but more significantly, those who want a pack that they can forget about while running. This is one for runners who don’t want to access much whilst on the run.

 

Test Model

Deuter Speedlite 10

Size: One size fits all

Carrying Capacity: 10L, 610 cu. in.

Cost: US $50

Add-on: Dry-bag, 10L

Best for:

  • Runcommuters who don’t want to access phone/water whilst on the run

  • Runcommuters who carry small to medium loads

  • Runcommuters with longer torsos

Performance and Evaluation

The Speedlite 10 comes in a range of colours and has classic styling. If you choose the black version this a backpack that does not look too ‘sporty’ for the office. Whichever color-way you choose, you’ll notice that the Speedlite 10 is not floppy when not being worn. It has a soft foam-and-mesh back, and an internal, sewn-in bendy plastic wire running around the rim of the back panel. This frame is unobtrusive and not stiff – you can still bend the whole pack in half – but it holds the pack in a shape all of the time, meaning the pack doesn’t flop over in a sweaty heap when you put it down. This is a great quality in the pack. Many other small-size lightweight packs have no skeleton and as a result collapse like a badly-built sandcastle when not on your back. Several of the packs of similar load volume (see list below) are very floppy in this way. Floppiness is not a problem for trail-running or casual purposes, but some runcommuters don’t want their pack to be a puddle of sweaty fabric when they’re carrying it around. I runcommuted with a trail-racing ‘vest’ for a while, and it was great on the run but terrible to lug once off my back.

Performance

Performance is good, with little-to-no bounce when running with the pack. However, to prevent side-to-side sway I have to tighten the straps until they are basically too uncomfortable and have me ‘corseted in’ to the pack in a very stiff way. Personally, I prefer a tiny amount of sway to extremely tight straps, and that is the choice to be made for this pack, on medium to smaller-framed people. This brings me to another issue for performance: fit. Although the actual size of this pack is small in terms of how it looks, the positioning of the sternum strap would fit larger people best. This is because for smaller people who want to wear the pack up high the sternum strap may not slide up high enough to be comfortable.  See the photo above for the sternum strap at maximum height. It’s not a huge problem for me, but it might be for anyone smaller than me (particularly ladies, for whom the chest creates specific issues). I’m not small, either: 170cm, with a broad frame (though my torso length is small/medium, rather than medium/large). So, although the Deuter Speedlite 10 looks like it would suit a smaller person, with its compact size and clean lines, this is deceptive: it would fit best on larger/taller/size ‘L’ torso runcommuters.

Sometimes, it rains. We runcommuters have to run in rain at times, as Kyle discusses in his classic ‘How to RAIN commute’ post.

To guard against sweat seepage or sudden unexpected rainstorms, a precaution is to always put your clothes into a dry bag — which will also compress them — before loading them into the main compartment.

There is the option of a small external rain-cover for instead. I did not try this method on the Deuter Speedlite 10, but I would guess that the rain cover would need to be super-small, and even then there might be problems getting the cover to stay on with the usual drawstring method used on rain-covers, because there isn’t much prominent edging for the rain cover to cling around, due to the pack’s compact design.

 

 

Key clip inside top stash pocket, on which are instructions for signalling airplanes for help!

 

 

What I Liked

Durability: high-quality materials and construction

Grab-handle for hanging pack on bathroom hooks

 

Lightweight, bendable ‘frame’ tube that gives a shape to the pack

 

 

Key hook inside…

 

….nicely-sized top pocket

 

Cool English/german instructions for signalling to aircraft for help if stranded on desert island! (the ink on these starts rubbing off pretty quickly though, so you’ll want to be marooned not too long after buying this pack…)

 

 

What I Didn’t Like

No pockets at all on shoulder straps/waistbelt

Shoulder straps a bit ‘harsh’ and may chafe neck on longer runs

 

When the main compartment is full the side mesh drink-bottle pockets are virtually unuseable for carrying drink bottles

 

Tiny anti-slide clips on waist belt don’t really work

 

 

Backpack Details

Front

The front of the pack has four light attachment points, one in each ‘corner’. It also has a small strip of silver reflective material in the lower quarter. There is no bungee cord or straps to cinch down the pack if it is fairly empty. However, this is not a problem, as the pack material keeps its shape well and doesn’t flop around or sag if there’s not much in the pack. If you had a single delicate item such as a camera in the main compartment it would bounce around, but in that scenario I don’t know whether an external bungee or compression straps would help, either.

Sides

The top zip opens the main compartment from halfway down each side of the pack. Below the zip on each side is a mesh pocket with elasticized top edge that keeps the pocket in close to the pack. These mesh pockets work fine when the pack is relatively empty. When the main compartment of the pack is full, however, it’s very difficult to get a drink bottle into the pocket. This means that if you want to carry water to drink while runcommuting it has to be either a very small bottle (like 150ml) or you’ll need to use a hand-held. This could also be annoying if you are using the pack during the day and just want to have somewhere to put your full-size water bottle.

 

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

There are no compression straps on either the front or sides of the pack, but this is not really a problem, as the pack is not very deep, and this –combined with the fairly stiff fabric – means that even when the main compartment is entirely empty there is no swinging or flopping or dragging.

For its compact size, this pack holds a fair bit of stuff — enough for many runcommuters. It will take a pair of size US9.5 (women’s, US8 men’s) shoes, and a full set of pants or skirt, underwear and shirt. It won’t have room left for a jacket, however. Without the shoes, the main compartment will fit the pants/skirt, underwear, shirt and lightweight jacket.

I have used this pack in hot conditions, with my work clothes loaded in the main compartment with no plastic or other dry-bag covering. Despite my ladylike perspiration, the clothes remained dry and fresh. This is due, I think, to the thick-ish mesh back panel and the water-resistant inner coating of the main compartment. Together, these features kept sweat from soaking through. However, my longest run in these conditions was one hour, so people running longer or who are more serious sweaters (though I am not a lightweight!), may find moisture transfer occurs. A dry-sack to contain your clothes before you put the whole sack into the main compartment will also serve the function of compressing your clothes to prevent rumpling and load-bounce. (As a related point: the Deuter Speedlite 10 is too small for the iamrunbox clothes organizer).

 

Back, Shoulder Straps and Waist Strap

For me, the main down-sides to this pack are related to the straps. The shoulder straps have a little bit of mesh on the underside, but are not actually padded, and the material they are made from, while robust and durable, is quite stiff and harsh. Several times I have ended up with chafing on the sides of my neck from the straps, after runs of over an hour. However, this was always when I was wearing collarless, thin running t-shirts as my only layer. I think this would not be an issue for people wearing jackets/second layers/rain shells etc. I suspect, also, that the chafing is related to the size of the straps/positioning of the sternum strap on me specifically.

The waist strap also has an annoying problem.  While the waist strap itself is basic but comfortably unobtrusive, there are two little plastic holders, or ‘strap wranglers’, on the waist belt, one either side of the main clip. These are supposed to keep the extra waist-strap lengths from flying around, unfortunately, on my pack they don’t really work. As I run they quickly either slide along the waist strap right up to clip, making them useless. Or, the excess strap ‘jumps’ out of them, again making them redundant. If you look at the photo on the right, above, you can see how the strap-wrangler has slid almost up to the belt clip on the left. On the right is an example of the extra strap simply falling completely out of the strap-wrangler and dangling to its heart’s content.

       This is not a pack for the technology-attached. There are no pockets on the front straps of this pack, so forget about checking your phone whilst on the run.

This pack would be perfect for runcommuting if you don’t want to drink, eat or text whilst on the run.

Hydration System

The Deuter Speedlite 10 does not come with a hydration bladder, so if you want to use one it would need to be bought separately. I said, above, that this is a great pack for those who don’t want to drink on the run. This claim could be modified to: this is a great pack for runcommuters who don’t want to drink on the run, or, for runcommuters who think they might like to dabble in trail running as well. You certainly can drink on the run without taking off the Speedlite 10, as it has a hydration tube opening at the top edge (right hand side only). Inside the pack is a dedicated pocket in which to put your hydration pouch. However, when I put a full 1.5L bladder into the pack there was no longer room for a runcommuter’s clothes + shoes combo. But on a trail run there’s no need for clothes storage room, and the pack is a great size for the trailrunning necessities: food/gels, rain jacket, space-blanket, hat, map, etc.

Comparative Packs

Additional Pictures

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:27+00:00 April 18th, 2016|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

The New Run Commuters – February 2016

Efficiency is the watchword for Julien Delange, our first run commuter profile for 2016. Running to and from his workplace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Julien favours maximalist shoes, and structures his run commuting — in both principles and pragmatics — for greatest efficiency. In his profile, Julien also highlights the positive environmental, financial and training benefits of running to work. With his routine sorted, Julien run commutes high-mileage weeks as training for the trail races he enters. His commitment to leaving the car at home (“the car is simply not an option during the week“) is an inspiration to all run commuters. As if all this wasn’t enough, Julien maintains an active blog, complete with his own posts on run commuting – check it out after you read his profile! 

As always, if you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, contact us using the form at the end of this post. The only criteria we have is that you started run commuting sometime in the last year or so. 

—————————————————–

Runner Basics

  • Name: Julien Delange

  • Age: 32

  • City/State: Pittsburgh, PA

  • Profession/Employer: Researcher in Computer Science

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: stopped counting (list on my blog, here

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Definitely trails. With a weekly mileage between 50 and 120 miles, long runs on flat and paved roads increase the likelihood to get an injury, so I prefer to stay on trails.

New Run Commuter Julien Delange

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I mostly use two backpacks: the Ultraspire Ultraviz Spry when I do not have to bring anything or REI Stoke 9 when I take clothes or food. 

  • Shoes: Hoka Huaka were the best! Unfortunately, Hoka One One discontinued them and my attempt to convince them to keep these shoes in their catalog was a miserable failure. So, I just use any Hoka One One shoe (special kudos to the Stinson Lite) 

  • Lights: A Black Diamond Revolt headlamp that I can charge on a mini-USB port. Very useful during winter, when days are short and it is dark when you leave home and come back at night: you can charge it at work when you arrive in the morning at work, so that you are sure you have enough batteries for both trips.

  • Hydration: I used to take a bottle, but over the last year my body has become used to commuting without drinking. Otherwise, when running more than 20 miles, I use a Nathan backpack with a bladder.

  • Clothing: Nothing special or fancy: a pair of shorts, a tech t-shirt, some tech socks (Smartwool or Injini) and that’s about it. I also have a protective shell (for when it rains), headband (to protect my ears from freezing during winter). It is useless to overdress: after 10 minutes, my body is warm enough to run under the snow. And even having Raynaud syndrome that reduces blood flow in my extremities, I keep clothing as minimal as possible. The most difficult part is remembering to keep going for the first 10 minutes when it’s freezing cold outside! 

  • Outerwear: Salomon Agile ½ Zip and Salomon Trail Runner Warm LS Zip Tee. Only when it is really cold!

  • Headgear: A hat when it is really hot, but otherwise, nothing. I also always wear protective goggles or sunglasses when going on trails – to protect my eyes from potential obstacles.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

Efficiency, sustainability, and financial reasons. Two years ago, I was taking my car to go to work (one hour per day), running one hour a day, and going to the gym. All these activities took two to three hours every day.

It was not time-efficient. I decided to run to work (45 min. each way) so that I could have more time to do other things I enjoy (reading, programming, playing, meeting friends!) and save money (no gas or parking). In addition, I would not be increasing the pollution (fumes and noise) in my community. I realized there were only benefits and suddenly became a run commuter the morning after.

How often do you run commute?

Every day! And I still do my long runs during the weekend :-)

I am very lucky that we have a shower at work: I bring soap, clean clothes and towels every two weeks to work, so that I do not have to carry them in my backpack.

How far is your commute?

The commute is between 4.5 (shortest route) to 10 miles (scenic view along a river). I have many routes I can take, so that I can adapt my commute according to my training needs (elevation, distance, mileage, etc.) I usually run between 10 to 13 miles a day with some days at more than 20 (when training for very long distances). It really is a fantastic way to train!

The sun rising over the river during Julien’s run to work

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I already have all my lunches prepared at work. Every two or three weeks, I drop a lot of clothes and packaged food. I eat the same thing almost every day: NuGo bars for snack and Tasty Bite Madras Lentils packages for lunches. Tasty Bites are easy to prepare (one minute in a microwave), are acceptable from a nutrition point of view (has some carbs, protein, etc.). It is very efficient from both time and financial perspectives. And, sometimes, I still go out for lunch with some colleagues.

What do you like most about run commuting?

This is a very efficient way to train: you can adapt your route according to what you really need to do (hill repeats, fartleks, etc.) and give yourself extra time for other activities. This is actually the best way I have found to train for long distances without impacting my social life too much. Also, you cannot miss a run!

Another underrated aspect is the predictability. Drive-commute times depend on many variables (traffic, issues with your car, etc.) and you do not have control over them. By running and choosing your route, you know exactly how long it is going to take to go to work.

But overall, I just do not like driving! To me, running is more natural than driving and the idea of sitting in traffic for hours is just not appealing. I prefer to be outside enjoying nature.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

Actually, there are some people that recently started commuting in Pittsburgh (special kudos to Alyssa and Sarah!). Pittsburgh is becoming more biker and runner friendly. We now have bike lanes, some dedicated fitness events for bikers and runners, and plenty of local running groups. The biggest running group in the city (Steel City Road Runner) started 3 or 4 years ago and today has more than 2000 members. Only a few of us run to work, but more people are getting involved and being active, this is what matters!

Beyond the decision to run to work, what matters to me is how we, as a society, use our resources (time, land, money, etc). Today, more than 76% of the US population go to work alone in their cars. In 2012, less than 3% of the population walked to work. Transportation impacts so many aspects of our community: schedule (time to commute and stay in traffic), health (pollution, noise, risks related to inactivity), even architecture (organization of the city with more roads). Choosing the least efficient solutions has a huge impact: does it make sense to take our car to work for a couple of miles when we can just bike/walk/run there? Especially considering the impact of the lack of activity in our developed societies.

Run commuting is just a means to change the way we usually commute, and there are other alternatives if you would prefer not to run (bike, public transportation, carpool, etc.), It is a good thing to see that some cities (such as Pittsburgh) are developing and promoting other ways of commuting.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

I only stop running to work when I am injured. In that case, I commute either by bike or (last resort) bus. The car is simply not an option during the week.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Start easy and do it progressively. It takes a while to build the endurance to commute every day, but it is very convenient. Have fun, enjoy it. Stop half way to the pub, meet some friends, grab a beer. (re)Discover your city, its trails, and just have fun!

Anything else that you would like to include?

I maintain a blog about running and had several articles on run commuting. Readers might be interested by the introduction to run commuting! http://julien.gunnm.org/2015/02/05/running-as-a-transportation-alternative-the-introductory-guide/

Interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? Submit your info in the form below and we’ll send you more details.

—————————————————————————————-

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

The No-Shower Clean Up: Women’s Edition

“Hair is a woman’s crowning glory”, according to my grandma. Granted, she’s 95 years old, and we might hope that nowadays women are appreciated for more than their hair, but to an extent my nan is still right: for many women, long, flowing locks are still the go. When they’re styled-up or blow-dried they’re magic. But what about post-runcommute sweaty, frizzy, out-of-control long hair? I would hazard a guess that long hair is the reason that many females who are potential runcommuters baulk at giving it a try.

If you are just such a female — contemplating run-commuting but put off by the ‘long hair problem’– trust the women who have runcommuted before you when they say: it can be negotiated successfully.

Here is both the Good News and the Bad News from the perspective of the female no-shower runcommuter.

The Bad News:

  • Long hair that has been sweaty can become dry and feels disgusting for the wearer.
  • Due to this, you have to commit. Always fully wet your head—scalp and hair—with fresh water, no matter how inconvenient this may initially seem.

The Good News:

  • Once you have done this a few times (wetting your hair and scalp thoroughly) it simply becomes a part of the general run-commuting routine, and is no more of a hassle than anything else.
  • Shampoo is not necessary (unless you don’t use hairspray or other product on your hair, in which case you may need to use a tiny bit of shampoo just to avoid the ‘earthy’ smell of hair washed in water only).
  • As both Josh and Kyle suggest, have a proper shower before leaving home. This will mitigate all sweaty-hair problems somewhat.
A few gals with long hair who haven’t let it slow them down…..

Products Used

Hair Towel:

  • Long hair necessitates one additional product for female no-shower run-commuting and it is…..the extra towel. In the name of successful hair management, a sufficiently absorbent, sufficiently large extra towel is the key piece of equipment. It needs to be able to absorb as much water as possible if you want your hair to be as dry as possible. It also needs to be large enough to be securely tied up. Not the same kind of miniscule stamp-sized micro-towel that might be perfect to dry your body with, as it won’t be long enough to wrap up your hair and tuck back into itself. Specific ‘towel-turban’ products exist (see below). Crucial here is pre-run practice: wrapping your hair in the towel before using it on a real life runcommute, to make sure it’s long enough.

 

Some specific towel-turbans:

(Click on all images to open product page in Amazon.com). This one looks chunky, but purports to do all kinds of super-technical hair-drying. Claims it is: “Super Absorbent Will Suck The Moisture Right Out Of Your Hair.” Gosh!

This one is less chunky, and it’s patterned:

Other towels: 

You may need either one or two towels to wash and dry your body, depending on whether or not you embrace wetwipes. If you do, then you may need only one towel, probably a micro-towel such as those reviewed by Josh in his ‘Destinkify’  post, to dry your skin after you have wetwiped it. If you prefer soap and water, or plain water, you can use a face-washer sized micro-cloth and wet it to clean your skin. Then you’ll need another, probably slightly larger, towel or cloth to dry your skin.

The fluffy cotton basics (I just love the brand name of these ones!):

Some super cute ones….

And some high-tech functionality ones, which claim to remove makeup with warm water only! 

Finally, the ‘cheap and cheerful’ 24-pack:

Hair products:

  • Hairspray, styling gel or mousse or other hair product

OR

  • a little bit of shampoo

Makeup:

Whatever your usual makeup products. See ‘methods’ for further advice.

Optional Changing Robe:

This can be either a home-made job, a basic store-bought beach product, or a full-on, warmth-focused professional outdoor sports DryRobe. If you run-commute in really cold conditions, you might want to check out DryRobe’s range of robes that you can change underneath. Their robes are used by pro surfers and so on, to stay warm or when changing on a cold beach. The inside of the robe is synthetic lambs’ wool. Check it out here:

This DryRobe is fairly heavy (in the weight-conscious world of runcommuting) though, so probably only good if you have somewhere at work to keep it stored.

This looks like a nice terry-towelling one, by Northcore:

Hair-wetting container:

Can be anything from your soap container to a vessel you have specially designated your ‘hair washing’ container – your choice! I use a very small, soap-bar sized clip-lock tupperware container that also holds my soap. I put the soap on the basin and then use the container to wet my hair and scalp. (See pic)

Flip-flops:

You’ll need flip-flops to allow you to get out of your running shoes and socks, but without exposing your bare feet to the germ-party that is a public bathroom floor. Theoretically, you could take off your running shoes and put your work shoes on immediately, but you can’t put your clean underwear/tights on until you’ve wiped down your legs and ‘business’ areas, and it’s hard to get them over your work shoes. The issue of balancing on high-heels might also come into play if you wear heels.

Step 1. Post-run-commute: Claiming a ‘clean up’ space 

  • Pick up your makeup/towels/flip-flops/changing robe from their storage place (See Note 1 at end).
  • Proceed to the bathroom.
  • Go into one of the toilet cubicles and hang your pack on the back of the door. (See Note 2).
  • Go back out to the washbasins, whilst still in your running gear, and wash/rinse your hair and scalp under the tap or by tipping water over your head from your container.
  • Once you have sufficiently rinsed the sweat off your scalp and hair, wrap your hair up in your ‘towel turban’.
  • You can now proceed back into the toilet cubicle for Step 2: Gettin’ Naked!

Step 2. Gettin’ naked! (and then washing and getting dressed again)

  • In the cubicle, strip off your running clothes, leaving your towel turban on.
  • Use your wash/dry towel to wipe your limbs, torso, and private areas down, and then to dry them. The method for this last directive changes depending on your choice of ‘washing’ equipment.

Chemical-covered wet-wipes are technically supposed to be safe to use on your ‘lady parts’, given that they are used on babies’ bottoms, which are surely some of the most sensitive skin around. However, everyone’s skin is different, and some women may find it more pleasant to stick with plain water.

If so, this may require a thinking-through of method.

The wet-wipes method:

  • Go back into your cubicle
  • Get naked
  • Wipe down your body with wet-wipes
  • Dry your skin thoroughly with your dry towel.
  • Apply body powder if desired.

If you eschew wet-wipes, there are two methods you can adopt for the body wash:

No wet-wipes method 1:

  • Whilst still dressed in your running clothes, but having wet your hair and tied it up in your ‘towel turban’, wet your ‘washing’ cloth/microtowel thoroughly under the tap. Squeeze it out until most, but not all, of the water is out.
  • Take it back into your cubicle. Shut the door (!)
  • Hang the wet cloth on the hook over the top of your pack
  • Get undressed
  • Wash your whole body bit by bit (except your face).
  • Hang the wet cloth back on the hook.
  • Use your dry towel to dry your whole body
  • Get dressed
  • Exit the cubicle. Wash out your wet cloth, refresh the water it is holding, and wash your face and neck at the basin.
  • Dry your face and neck with your dry cloth.

Some people may feel that there is insufficient refreshing of the water in the wet cloth when using this method. For example, you may feel like you want to wash sweatier areas in a separate ‘go’. If so, the second method is the one for you.

Method 2: (Start off in the same way as per Method 1 up to and including “Get undressed”.)

  • Put on your ‘changing robe’ (take a moment to feel smug that you have a ‘changing robe’…).
  • Using your cloth underneath your robe, wash the sweatiest (or least sweatiest, your choice) areas on your body with the wet cloth.
  • Still wearing your changing robe, exit the cubicle, rinse wet cloth under tap, refresh with water, and either return to cubicle to wash remaining areas, or wash them in public, underneath your robe. Your colleagues cannot complain you are being indecent, because your nakedness is hidden under your robe!
  • Once washed go to cubicle, shut door,
  • take off changing robe so you are completely nude, and use your dry cloth/microtowel to dry off your body.
  • Get dressed in work clothes. At this point you should be dressed, but still wearing your towel turban on your wet hair.
  • You are now ready for Step 3. Hair Management.

*Remember though, if you go with the wet wipes option, throw them in the bin, don’t flush them down the toilet! See here for why (but not if you’re eating whilst reading this post).

Step 3. Hair Management

There are a few options here. The easiest is to wear your hair up for the day somehow. This reduces the need for product, though a full head of wet hair sitting there all day can feel ‘heavy’ and cold in winter or cold workplaces.

If you want to leave your hair down, you can either blow-dry some of your hair before applying product, or just apply product straight to your wet hair. (See Note 3).

Step 4. Makeup

  • Apply makeup….
  • Sparkle!!

 

Conclusion

Female-specific ‘no shower’ runcommuting is the same as runcommuting in general. It is all about planning and organisation. As with many things that require planning and organisation, the payoffs are totally worth it. Try it tomorrow.

 

Notes

Note 1: If you don’t have a private filing cabinet or drawer or any other place to permanently store your makeup, you may need to adopt Kyle’s ‘secret ceiling panel’ method as detailed in his ‘From Sweaty to Office-Ready’ post.

Note 2: Most toilet doors have hooks on the back. If your workplace has toilet doors without hooks, you have a problem! My advice in such a case would be to either: ask management to install them, or install one yourself, without asking.

Note 3: Some workplaces will now have those blow-driers for hands that are designed to blow upwards, from waist-height, in a narrow slot in which you lower and raise your hands to dry them “in ten seconds”. This is an unfortunate development for the long-haired female runcommuter, as it is impossible (though some have tried) to stick your head in a five-centimetre slot. Technology: always changing, often for the worse. If your workplace has invested in such machines….I have no advice. Suggestions welcome in the comments below!

Note 4: Personally, I don’t use a huge range of makeup products, so I’ve been able to adopt the method of simply buying a duplicate set of products. This may be more of a hassle for women who have an extensive or expensive set of makeup products costing hundreds of dollars. But think of it this way: you’d have to buy another set eventually anyway, for runcommuting you’ve had to buy two at the same time but they will last double the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Xena, X-Men and Rapunzel Image Sources: Official Xena Facebook Fanpage; imbd–X-Men The Last Stand page; Disney Princess Gallery (click on names to open source sites).

Review: Altra Torin 1.5, Superior 1.5, and Lone Peak 1.5 Minimal Shoes

Keen to try minimalist running? Interested in the latest biomechanical theories about how our bodies run? Want to get a sense of the range of contemporary running shoes that are out there and popular, but don’t want to blow the budget on a possible dud? Well, here’s how you can try out contemporary shoe ‘ideas’ without breaking the bank: it’s the eleventh hour for the old range of Altra shoes, with their 2013/2014 updates well and truly in the shops. But you may see the old range selling at bargain-basement prices at your local running store, and if you do, here’s a review that tells you why you should give them a try.

Altra Torin 1.5

Altra Torin 1.5

Available in several online stores including:

Altra Running

Amazon

Zappos

Campsaver

One of the best shoes for run commuters is the Altra Torin. Why? Because it combines ‘zero drop’ with major cushioning to protect your bones from the repetitive jarring of running on concrete and asphalt.

Many minimalist and barefoot shoes from the early years of the movement had very little rubber between your tootsies and the ground. This is not such a big deal if you always run on grass (though even then, the too-sudden substitution of conventional running shoes to FiveFingers etc. caused injuries in thousands of runners and the subsequent infamous lawsuit.) But when you’re running on pavements and roads all the time, ‘natural’ running can be a painful experience. Hence, the ‘second generation’ of ‘barefoot’ shoes, which some wag dubbed “maximalist shoes” – lots of cushioning, but not necessarily huge ‘heels’.

Quick Facts

23 mm Sole

Zero Drop

Wide Toebox

Uppers Keep Out Water

Cushioning

23mm stack height (cushioning/sole). Zero drop, meaning there is no height difference between the forefoot and the heel when your foot is in the shoe. The cushioning is superb. You feel like you’re running on top of it. The Torin are comparable to Brooks’ Pure Flows in ‘instant comfort’ factor, but happily (in my opinion) their underfoot cushioning feels somehow both more substantial as well as not as ‘marshmallowy’ as the pillows of the Pure Flows.

The Torin’s level of cushioning is protective for distances up to (and beyond, probably!) marathon distances on road. The cushioning in these babies is also very durable, seemingly unsquashable even after miles and miles of run commuting.

Shape and Fit

A wide toe box is the other ‘feature’ of all Altra shoes. The Torin and the Superior are two of the three reviewed here that have, in my view, genuinely ‘wide’ toe boxes. The (female) Torin model is wider than my Brooks Pure Flows men’s version, which are a ‘standard’ men’s D-width (as opposed to the women’s ‘standard’ B-width, which is narrower). The Torin is also ‘straighter’ across the toes than ‘normal’ running shoes, which reflects the wider toe box. On ‘normal’ shoes the toe box is curved more aggressively from the big-toe around the other toes and to meet the lateral edge of the shoe. The drastic curve of normal shoes is what causes the squashing of the toes together and prevents the natural splaying tendency of bare feet in motion. The toe box feels like it was custom-carved to gently cradle my toes and forefoot, with no pressure or squeezing at any point around the coastline of my foot. I’ve never had a blister from these shoes. This may be a happy miracle matching of my foot and the shoes, however. The shape may not be as perfect for everyone, even the wide-footers.

Shape and Fit of Sole 

The bottom ‘edges’ of the Torin—the edge and the back and front ends of the sole—seem to round jauntily upwards, for a turned-up feeling and a rolling of the foot forward when you land square on the middle of the shoe. This is a pleasant—even heady—sensation of swiftness. Turbo-charged in the Torin.

In regards to flexibility, I have read other reviews on the web that comment on the inflexible nature of the Torin. It is true that this shoe does not bend much in the middle when you try to squash the toes and heels of the upper together. Having high arches and normally landing on my forefoot, I personally need and prefer a highly-flexible shoe. However, the Torin seem to encourage me to land square on the midfoot, which feels like the most protective landing position on hard concrete, and it also means my foot doesn’t bend much. I’ve never had any problems with the flexibility of the Torin.

Styling

The confident black and beautiful aqua blue of this shoe is complimented by a dash of white on the edges of the sole rubber and in the Altra label. The female Torin also comes in a magenta, yellow and white colourway.

Summary

Fresh and strong. Cheeky, full of zest, but profoundly capable. Stubborn long-livers. A joy to wear as a daily run commuting shoe for the mean city streets of the modern metropolis.  

Possible Criticisms

If you have a ‘fat’ foot—by which I don’t mean that your foot has been hitting the pizza and ice cream, but that you have a high volume foot/high arches, etc. —you may find the laces too short. I have just such a bulky, well-muscled foot, and I can only just double-tie the bows in the laces.

The upper isn’t made from the softest material…. It’s a kind of rubbery material that is flexible, but I wouldn’t call it actually soft against the skin etc. I wouldn’t wear these without socks, for example. However, turning the negative into a positive (!), the rubbery uppers keep out rain and puddle-splash from wet roads extremely well in my experience.

Run Commuting Potential?

Maximum run commuting joy!

Altra Superior 1.5

Altra Superior 1.5

Available in several online stores including:

Altra Running

Amazon

Moosejaw

Nolashoes

These are the perfect shoe for run commuters who traverse sections of grass, trail, dirt track or road, rocks, fields, paddocks etc. as well as pavement and concrete on their way to work. The grip is definitely trail grip. It’s not going to stick you to the side of wet grass hills as you bomb down them at top speed, and you might experience the occasional slippage on wet rock. But I’ve worn these a lot on highly technical, steep and (dry) rocky single-track, and their grip performs really well. More than adequate for city parks on the way to work. They have the added benefit, unlike other trail shoes, of feeling like ‘normal’ road running shoes when you’re wearing them to run on road.

Like the Torins, the Superiors feature Altra’s wide toe box, zero drop, and enough cushioning to protect your tender footsies.

Quick Facts

18 mm Sole

Sizing Issues

Extremely Wide Toebox

Quickly Wear Out

Cushioning

They are light, very flexible, and initially have a pillowy cushioning that is soft but protective. However, the cushioning on these gets flattened very quickly, and feels like a racing flat after about 100 miles. (see the ‘pancake’ effect on the cushioning in the photo). In my opinion, the metaphorical and literal flexibility of the Superiors makes them worth the quicker wear-out time. Especially for that AU$60 sale price…

They do have a thin plastic ‘rock plate’ underneath the innersole, and they certainly guard against most pointy rock pain, but they don’t allow the same level of ‘ignoring what you’re treading on’ that you can get away with in the Lone Peaks.

Shape and Fit

The toe box is as generous as or even more so than the toe box on the Torins. The review in Trail Runner Magazine described them as “like running in comfy slippers”, which is spot on, though they are not as bulky as slippers!

Sizing

Problematic. I ordered them online without trying them on, and, following the advice of the website, ordered a full size larger than my normal running shoe size, only to be swimming in them with nearly two inches at the end of my toes. Swapped for my regular size, they are still pretty big, and for my next pair I’m ordering down at least half a size.

I think the problem with Altra sizing and the weird phenomenon of my need for a smaller size while many people on the internet report having had to size up, stems from the difference in people’s individual toe lengths. People with very long big toes or second toes need a size bigger than ‘normal’ in Altras, because the Altra toe boxes have the almost horizontal end shape. This means that any toe that is substantially longer than the others is going to be rammed against the end of the shoe. All of my toes are of an almost scaled decreasing size that forms a curve very similar to that of the horizontality and width of the Altra toe box (I hesitate to imply that my toes are perfect, but, well, they are!). Perhaps that’s why I love the Superiors so very very much.

Run Commuting Potential?

Absolutely…just take the alternative route to work along the river bank/through empty lots/across sports fields.

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Limited availability online at:

Altra Running

Amazon

For run commuters who also run trails or those who are curious about beginning trail running, try the Altra Lone Peak 1.5s while they’re on sale.

If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the Lone Peak 2.0s, the 1.5s will give you a (cheap) sense of what it’s like to run in trail shoes capable of handling heavy-duty terrain.

Quick Facts

22 mm Sole

Superb Traction

Excellent Durability

Great Water Resistance

Sizing

I had the same issue with the Lone Peak 1.5s as I did with the Superiors, which I ordered half a size bigger (hedging my bets), but which I had to swap for size US9s. These still have ample room at the end of the toes even when I am wearing Injinji toe-socks, which fill the space out. In regular, thinner socks the size 9s are almost too big. So I don’t know what the hell is going on with Altra sizing, basically.

Shape and Fit

Toe box is not big enough! More craziness! Despite the wide toe box being a stated feature of Altra shoes, I find the women’s Lone Peak 1.5s not wide enough. Having got used to the Superiors and the Torins (and having previously worn through three pairs of FiveFingers) my toes like to go their own ways. So, for my second pair of Lone Peak 1.5s—purchased on sale for nearly 1/3 of the price they were on debut—I ordered the men’s model (size US7). The toe box is perfect, and the same width as the women’s Superior toe box. Happy days. For AU$60 you can afford to make an educated guess as to the sizing (after reading this review, of course!).

The Lone Peak 1.5s are much less flexible than the Superiors, but they have greater cushioning and a higher overall level of ‘hardiness’ than the Superiors. They also have deeper lugs (little claws on the sole) for better grip on the trails. In my experience the soles of the Lone Peak 1.5 are more effective in the wet than the soles of the Superior. The Lone Peak’s lugs are still not as grippy as the almost-gecko-like lugs of shoes like the Inov-8 Roc-lites, but then the Lone Peak soles are more protective. Only at the end of a six-hour trail run on hard rocky trail have I felt that I needed more shoe between me and the ground (though by then I felt like my feet never wanted to touch the ground again anyway, so it’s kind of irrelevant!)  One day I hope to run longer than six hours, maybe in the Lone Peak 2.0s, which apparently have even more cushioning. Now I just need to get a complimentary ‘review’ pair from Altra…

Run Commuting Potential

Only for lucky b*%$#rds whose run to work is mostly on trails. They last longer than the Superiors, and like the Superiors, the lugs aren’t really super evident when you’re running short distances on concrete.

Safety Note

For best results, combine the information in this review with Josh’s awesome article on his journey from (running shoe) stilettoes to (running shoe) ballet flats. Snap up a cheap pair of Altras and wear them once or twice a week instead of your existing shoes to transition safely to zero-drop shoes.   

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:31+00:00 April 13th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , |0 Comments
Translate »