What I Carry

All of the items described in the post, with a bonus photo of the dog, Bebe.

Here is what I carry on my morning run commute. I am a minimalist. That philosophy requires discipline. Every now and then, I wish I had brought along this or that, but that is rare enough – I’m fine with the risk.

I use an ultra-lightweight backpack. It is a cheap but durable nylon number by Marmot. It isn’t specialized for this purpose. If I cinch the shoulder straps, it is stable enough. The interior contains a divider between two compartments, which allows me to stow sweaty clothes after changing. There is a little zippered top area, too. I liked it enough I bought a spare when it was on sale, so if I need to throw one in the wash or take one on a trip, it’s fine — I travel enough that I sometimes leave the extra at my elderly father’s house, so it is there when I check on him. The only problem with this model is it lacks any padding. I cannot throw it around for fear of damaging the gadgets inside. That only means I need to be careful. Or I could buy a separate case for the tablet. (For races, I switch to an Ultimate Direction vest.)

Inside the backpack, I have keys (two: house and office) with a high-powered flashlight attached, on a tiny locking carabiner. I have a driver’s license, work ID, credit card, and MUNI pass for the trip back, in a card case style “wallet;” an iPhone; and an iPad with my files for work. It is that last item that has made the run commute feasible. Basically all my data is accessible.

Oh, I also have a camera with me. I almost always have that, a real camera, typically a vintage film camera. That is extravagant. It weighs as much as everything else put together. I took up running and photography simultaneously, and for me they are associated activities. Others likely would forego the film camera.

Finally, I have a partial change of clothes: fresh socks, t-shirt, and shirt. I also have a lightweight towel meant for athletic use, about a quarter the size of a bath towel and much thinner. I sometimes carry another pair of pants or an extra pair of shoes, especially if there is inclement weather. I’d prefer not to do that though. I wear pants that are acceptable, as I judge it anyway, for a casual work environment. (My wife has a “no-fly” rule: if I am out with her, my pants must have a fly; these do.) I also have a cap, because my mother taught me to err on the side of putting something on my head when it was cold. (The running cap is soaked through with sweat when I arrive, so that has to be swapped out.)

There are omissions. I sometimes wear headphones, but I’m ambivalent doing so. If I will be going back and forth — a great day includes a round-trip run commute — I might pack a spare battery.

All of the above are shown on a list. I am an inveterate maker of lists. That is a bit OCD. But I wouldn’t be comfortable if I didn’t check off these items before I started out.

Run commuting compels me to plan. I have to consider what else I am doing that day, to ensure I bring what I need. If I am headed to the bank, for example, I add my ATM card in a separate “wallet.” But I do not want to be burdened by baggage. Most of the stuff I own, I don’t use. I no longer feel any need to acquire material goods in general, unless I am confident it will become integral to my life. I’d rather be out there running. There is always someplace else worth the journey.

Why I am a Run Commuter

The US Mint in San Francisco, which I pass on the most challenging route I can take, up and over between Mt. Sutro and Twin Peaks.

Run commuting has made me a better person. I am not who people believe I am. To wake up early and trek into the office on my own locomotion is intrinsically worthwhile. Yet it also is consistent with my plan for self-improvement. Please allow me to explain.

People regard me as among the hardest working individuals they know. I once said to a colleague that I felt I wasn’t hard working enough, and he replied explicitly that there was something wrong with me if I were sincere in the statement. That is no brag. Throughout my career, I have worked so much that people who have commented on it have not intended it as a compliment. When I practiced law, albeit briefly half a lifetime ago, I billed at a 2750 hour per year pace. I’m told that remains a respectable amount even now.

But here is my secret. I am among the laziest people I know too. I can cite various examples. If I am working, I won’t bother to leave my desk if I am thirsty or need to use the facilities. In the interest of efficiency, I wait to rise from my seat until both conditions are satisfied. Observers assume I am ambitious. To the contrary. I’m an idler. I like to sit at home with the dog.

There is no contradiction between being hard-working and being lazy. The hard-working persona is cultivated; the lazy one, natural.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed the T.H. White retelling of the King Arthur legend, entitled The Once and Future King. Written with World War II ongoing toward an outcome that seemed at best uncertain, the tetralogy of novels has endured as the version of the myth for our era, featuring Camelot, the sword Excalibur, the wizard Merlin, and so on. It was the basis for the Disney cartoon. The monarch is an orphan transformed into various animals to learn by allegory. What made an impression on me is the defining dialogue between the ill-made knight, Lancelot, and the Queen, Guinevere, who are carrying on, certainly within the awareness of Arthur, who regards the French chevalier as his only friend and the champion of the round table. Lancelot, asked by the Queen why he strives to be so virtuous, confesses it is because he is so wicked. The sentiment is profound, for any of us who aspires to personal progress. Our perfect selves are not our true selves, and although we might not achieve the former within our lives we need not be as awful as the latter.

Social scientists now have data about how we make decisions that suggests we can change the architecture of our choices. The Nobel Prize in economics this year went to the professor who has promoted the concept of “nudges.” We can alter, in the aggregate and on average, behavioral outcomes while respecting free will, by changing defaults from opt-in to opt-out and otherwise being conscious of the framework within which we pick among options. We, many of us anyway, will save money if enrollment in the retirement program is automatic — though within our ability to change, since we won’t bother. We will tend to control our portions by putting out smaller plates and consume less sugary soda by insisting on smaller containers. These are important insights about how our brains function, whether we consent. We can fool ourselves, not necessarily for the worse.

Run commuting has become my means of enforcing discipline for myself. It is effective. You can structure inertia to favor continued activity. In my fantasy life, I have long been a runner. It was easier to implement my imagination than I had supposed, following Lancelot and using “nudges.”

To begin, I set appointments with others to walk, eventually adding speed to the stroll. The commitment made all the difference. I had to live up to it. Otherwise I’d be disappointing a colleague. In some instances, we dubbed it a “walking meeting” — I was thrilled to discover that, like run commuting, the walking meeting turns out to “be a thing” as kids say nowadays. I even arranged, as a teacher, to lead groups of students, adding a coffee break at the end, though fewer than half who RSVP’d typically showed up for the 7am start.

Then I became known as a run commuter. The security guards on campus become accustomed to seeing me arrive in my hi-viz yellow windbreaker and a cap soaked through with sweat, disappear into my office for a moment, then show up once again in my regular outfit for the day. The expectation of others is vital to my motivation. It might be less enthusiastic than the cheering from the crowd during a race, but it serves the same purpose of inspiring. Even though run commuting is becoming more popular, anyone who engages in it likely is enough of an outlier to develop a bit of local fame. It’s only slightly more common than, say, riding a unicycle.

Here is my discovery — not original, even to me, but rather one of those aspects of human nature I keep realizing after forgetting how integral it is to all of us. Repetition forms habits. These can be good practices, despite our more acute awareness of their bad counterparts. I run on my own now. I run without people taking notice, even to “run” errands.

Run commuting has trained me. It has become a mindset. Its value extends beyond the exercise. I have become more deliberate in planning my day and more mindful in carrying out activities shown on the calendar. I appreciate both the moment and the surroundings.

In a sense run commuting has become my philosophy of life.

The New Run Commuters – December 2017

Welcome back to another edition of The New Run Commuters! For our last profile of 2017, we’re featuring Alex Zinni of Mansfield, Massachusetts. While most run commuters take up commuting by foot after years of road and/or trail running, Alex only started running this past year. To maximize family time and to stay healthy, he took up run commuting a few months ago and hasn’t looked back.

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Alex Zinni

  • Age: 36

  • City/State: Mansfield, MA

  • Profession/Employer: Quality Engineer, Med Devices / Bridgemedica

  • Number of years running: 1

  • # of races you participate in a year: 0 (hopefully that will change soon)

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road, mainly because I’ve never run a trail

 

 

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: After much debate, I went with the Osprey Rev 24 M/L in blue. I have an Eagle Creek garment folder (S) that I use to keep my clothes from getting wrinkled and it fits into the Rev really well along with my shoes, toiletries, lunch (when I bring it), and extra accessories. I pack my work socks, running socks (so I have clean ones for the way home), underwear, and belt into my shoes to save space. The Rev 24 has plenty of straps to tighten it to your body. Unfortunately, my phone does not fit in the media pocket, which is slight bummer, but the bag has a nice slash pocket up at the top so it does not get wet.

    Shoes: Right now I’m using the Ghost 9 from Brooks.  I have wide feet and everyone said they’re one of the best at making wide, light shoes with a neutral sole.  So far, they have not disappointed.

    Clothing: Some type of non-cotton shirt and Under Armor running shorts along with running tights, long sleeve base, and warm up jacket for when it gets cold.  I also have a Salomon WP jacket just in case. I try to go with loud colors because safety.

    Outerwear: Gloves in the winter, because running with cold hands sucks.  I cut out a little slot for my Garmin 735xt so I don’t have to roll the glove up on my left hand.

    Headgear: Since I am sans hair, the Under Armor ColdGear Infrared Hood has been a must during the winter, otherwise nothing.

    Lights: Blue flashing lights because everyone pays attention to blue lights.

    Hydration: Water bottle in the side pocket of my backpack.

 

Alex Zinni

 

Osprey Rev 24

 

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

tl:dr = I’m fat and I don’t have time to work out at a gym or run outside my work schedule. Full version… Run commuting has been the most efficient way to scratch the active lifestyle itch while maintaining our involved family life. With a wife (that works nights & weekends) and 3 kids at home, any time we have with each other and the kids is important to us and not worth giving up. But after putting on about 50lbs over the last 8 years and several half-hearted attempts to get healthy, I decided it was time to make serious change. I’ve been running after work and watching my diet more closely for about a year when I came up with the idea on my own to run to work. A quick search for running backpacks led me to TRC and others doing what I wanted to do. And, now, here I am…

How often do you run commute?

I’m a couple months or so in, and I’m running to work 2 times a week. As the chunkiness and shin splints decrease, I hope to add more days.

How far is your commute?

It’s a little more than 3 miles one way if I take the most direct route.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Depends on the leftover situation, but I prefer to bring my lunch. I work really close to a supermarket, so either is not an issue.

What do you like most about run commuting?  

Everything. The way I get to combine commuting and exercise. The challenge is motivating even though some mornings I just want to drink coffee and listen to sports talk in a warm car.  The looks I get from people when I tell them that I run commute is priceless. Being outside is awesome. I’m so much more awake and focused once I get to work. I have an easier time staying active throughout the day, playing with my kids, sleeping, etc. Finally – my personal favorite – my wife is a fan of a less squishy me, though she promises me she loves the squishier me, too.

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

Nope, I am the only one of my kind.

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

Driving along in my automobile.

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

I’d say the same thing that I heard in the beginning – start slowly and just do it. Do whatever you need do to ease yourself into it. For me, I was fortunate enough to need several auto repairs and my mechanic is a little more than 1 mile into my commute. Since 2 miles was my previously normal distance, it was a no brainer to drop off my car and run into work from there. It also saved me the hassle of finding a ride every time I dropped the car off. My situation was unique, but the approach would be the same – just get out there and do it. No excuses.

What are the weather conditions like for your run commute?

I live in New England, where blizzards in May and 85°F days in November are equally likely.  The winters can get snowy with temps dropping as low as the 10’s & 20’s. The summers can get pretty hot and humid into the 90’s.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I just want to thank my wife for putting up with my crazy ideas and being supportive. She’s my inspiration, my quest, my love, and my friend. She is my gift and the world needs to know.

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.

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

By | 2018-01-29T14:56:07+00:00 December 12th, 2017|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Run Commuting Story Roundup – April 2017

It’s the end of April and it is time for another edition of the Run Commuting Story Roundup! There seems to have been an increase in articles about lately, and while it’s probably tied to warmer temperatures (people more likely to run) we like to think it’s because run commuting is becoming more popular.

If you have written a post about run commuting on your blog, or have read a news article or post about run commuting that you want us to know about, send us an email and it may show up in a future Run Commuting Story Roundup.

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Review: Alpine Dam’s “The Shoreline” Trucker Hat

If a Goldilocks exists in my modest collection of running caps, it is Alpine Dam’s Shoreline model. The sweet spot especially is its brim.

That is no small praise. There is a glut of trucker caps proffered to the running community these days. They have grown increasingly popular since Anton Krupicka wore a trucker cap in his Leadville 100 victory. They espouse, perhaps embody, the simplicity and care-free attitude self-proclaimed dirtbag runners seek to claim – yet that counter culture cap, once de novo, has become de rigueur.

Salt-crusted hats are where it’s at.

Short of blocking sun, containing hair, or concealing a bald spot, choice of such caps really comes down to brand. They are, like bread, permutations of only a few ingredients assembled in different manners and amounts.

I have several, some of which were race takeaways, others I’ve purchased since my wife encouraged me to wear sun protection during Atlanta’s immolating summers. The reasons that have led to my abandoning some are precisely why I have grown enamored of Alpine Dam’s cap in the several weeks since they provided it for review. My disdain and disappointment in most are enumerated thus:

  1. Brim too long

  2. Dome too high

  3. Material destroyed by my incessant and salt-heavy sweat

There is a little room in the Shoreline’s crown, so air can move through and hair isn’t plastered to my scalp, yet not so tall that it looks absurd. Same with the brim: not a stub, as on bicycle caps (Krupicka’s current favorite, by the way), nor so long that it juts above your vision like the Star Destroyer in Star Wars’ opening scene, or that you feel you’re wearing a Goofy cap from Disney World. Even Beyonce looks a fool in a Goofy hat. You want to look good on your commute: you want to feel you look good, too.

The hat also wears well for hard-style poses amongst a trucker’s wasteland.

Here’s what really sealed it for me about the Shoreline: those long brims also obscure headlamp beams. That is important when you are run commuting in early or late hours, or running ultra distances. One shadow is enough to grab a toe and send you sprawling, leaving your flank scraped by Supermanning down a sidewalk, or your sternum marred by trail Braille.

The Shoreline cap is royal blue, with a mesh back and a foam front panel, sporting a flashy sherbet-hued logo: big, bold, and satisfying, like a glimpse of Atari, and absent the glaring day-glo safety colors so prevalent in active wear of late. So the cap is attractive, if unobtrusive.

You’ll notice it is choked with salt. As The Run Commuter founder (and my best friend) Josh can with a sneer of revulsion attest, my sweat is so salty that it appears I’ve been laboring the live-long day in the mines of Syracuse, New York, rather than enjoying an eight-mile run. It has honestly ruined cotton caps by destroying and warping the fabric. So far, the Shoreline’s foam has stood firm and shown no discoloration.

The logo is reminiscent of a mountain elevation profile, and wondered whether it was that of Mt. Tamalpais, located near Alpine Dam HQ in Marin County, California. Company founder Adam Melenkivitz clarified it is intended as the former (his daughter chimed it looked like their maps), and not actually Mt. Tamalpais. Rather, something with which anyone familiar with such profiles could identify.

He continued, “Specifically, the sharp end of the logo is how I imagined the climb from the Alpine Dam years ago … well prior to Strava. I always saw this as a winding, sharp climb in my mind. At the time, I had to work up to this ride, so ‘Alpine Dam’ was big goal for me. Alpine Dam for me wasn’t just the dam, or lake and the trails, but the entire experience of the loop.”

That’s a noble goal. It appeals to me, as certainly it will to others. It’s my Thunder Rock, or someone’s Iron Man, or another’s 15K. It might be your run commute.

The one detriment I’d note in the cap again comes back to sweat. Alpine Dam sent two models: the Shoreline, which I tested, and the BoFax, which my wife claimed. Hilary commented that she would like an integrated sweat-wicking band inside the BoFax. Neither model carried one, but it wasn’t much of an issue to me. The Shoreline did just fine, drawing sweat up into the cap’s body and brim.

One last thing I appreciate about the brand, which might be a deciding factor to some, is that Melenkivitz in his correspondence, and in Alpine Dam’s media, consistently references his kids. They are heavily involved in the products – selecting logo colors; doodling mountains on the patio; reviewing design ideas. Alpine Dam offers a few kids’ models, too. So though dirtbag runners seem to lean toward lone wolf branding, Alpine Dam might position itself across a variety of pursuits and social activities, as well as with active families.

That’s a rich market, neither too big, nor too small: just right.

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To see more of Alpine Dam’s products (currently with a 30% off code on the homepage!) visit their website.

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Disclaimer

Alpine Dam provided us with the trucker hats for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

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!

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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.

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Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

Run Commuting Story Roundup – February 17, 2017

Here’s a quick roundup of interesting run commuting stories I found recently. I’ll try and do a similar post monthly if enough content can be found.

If you have written a post about run commuting on your blog, or have read a news article or post about run commuting that you want us to know about, send us an email and it may show up in a future Run Commuting Story Roundup.

 


 

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Review: IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Finally – a backpack specifically made for run commuters!

The company that brought us our favorite garment carrier, IAMRUNBOX, released a series of run commuting backpacks after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and we were extremely excited to get our hands on one recently. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a stylish and extremely practical backpack for everyday commuters who run with a change of clothes, a laptop, and a few personal items. Best of all, this pack won’t bounce! 

Test Model

IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Size: One size fit all

Carrying Capacity: 10L, 610 cu. in.

Cost: US $170

Performance and Evaluation

I logged approximately 40 miles with the IAMRUNBOX under a variety of conditions and temperatures. Unfortunately, I have yet to test it during a good rainstorm. I wore it a few times when there was a light sprinkle, but I didn’t feel that was a good test of the pack’s water resistant features.

While I expected it to feel a little awkward on the run, since the construction is markedly different than a standard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it runs. The four foam pads that make contact with your back are comfortable and almost unnoticeable. Since the main compartment is rigid, there is no pack flop that you tend to get from a soft pack, so I expected loose items inside the pack to bounce around. However, that was not the case – everything remained firmly fixed.

The carrying capacity of the IAMRUNBOX works well for those run commuters who only run with their work clothes and a few personal items. I had trouble packing larger lunches and weekly supplies into it after packing clothing and accessories. It worked fine for a light lunch, like a sandwich and some mandarin oranges, for example, however larger bags of crackers/chips/crisps would get crushed when zipping the main compartment shut and deeper containers of leftovers were out of the question. This specific issue probably won’t affect a majority of run commuters, though, since most prefer to pack as minimal and light as possible.

One additional note regarding the pack’s volume; the back face of the pack is crisscrossed with an adjustable elastic cord. Since I tested the pack in the winter, I needed to carry a jacket with me for any out-of-office excursions. The cord system easily secured my jacket, and even retained additional room to carry more.

 

The laptop carrying feature works quite well. It’s a simple, two-strap holder that rides close to your back, but it does what it is designed to do. Smaller laptops or tablets may need additional padding around them to keep them from bouncing up and down in the pack.

The deep and wide zippered waist belt pouches are a fantastic feature. Most backpacks that have these usually tend towards smaller, stretchier styles that work for carrying, at most, a few gels, a thin beanie, or a pair of gloves. The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro’s waist pockets, in contrast, can hold large smartphones, thick wool hats, sunglasses, and more. I normally carry my Nexus 6P (which is 6 ½” long and 3 ¼” wide) in the main compartment or in inaccessible side pouches of other packs, so it is awesome to have it right in front of me and be able to pull it out to take a picture or check a text message.

You notice the weight of the pack just forward of your shoulders and at the small of your back. I couldn’t identify any potential chafing locations – the fit and feel of everything was perfect.

Waist and sternum strap with whistle

Waist strap has openings on both sides to hide excess strap

What I Liked

Overall comfort and feel

Zippered clothing compartment

Laptop carrying feature

Large waistbelt pouches

Rigid structure of the pack

What I Didn’t Like

Limited carrying capacity

Velcro strap location

Cost

Backpack Details

Overall Construction

Both the pack and the zippers are made from weather/water-resistant materials. The exterior consists of a black nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating while the interior is lined with black velvet fabric.

Front

The front of the pack is mostly unremarkable, save for an elastic band system for holding larger, non-packable items like a jacket or a pair of shoes (an optional shoe bag is available, as well). For added visibility during low-light conditions, I add Amphipod flashing lights to the strings and strap.

The velcro strap pictured here functions as an additional hold-down for the large items on the front and can be rerouted to the back of the pack to secure the shoulder/waist straps together if you want to carry it by the carrying handle. If the strap is connected to the front of the pack however (as shown in the picture below), you must first disconnect it in order to open the pack, as it covers the zipper.

Sides

The sides do not include any additional storage or features.

Top and Bottom

The top and bottom of the pack include reflective strips. No additional features are present.

Main Compartment

When open, the right side of the pack is where you store your clothing. To hold all the clothing together, the Backpack Pro has a zippered, breathable cover, which makes it very easy to close the pack once everything is inside.  

The left side of the Backpack Pro is used for securely storing up to a 13.5″ laptop. It can also hold a tablet, a book, or a few magazines quite well, or any other items that you may need at work (small lunch, belt, packable raincoat, etc.).

Open and empty

Fully packed with a light lunch

Back and Waist Strap

The back of the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is rigid, with four palm-sized cushions strategically placed to allow the pack to rest comfortably against your back while walking or running. When the pack is on the body and cinched down, the cushions rest at the base of the scapulae and on both sides of the lower back.

The waist strap is wide and lightly-padded and a simple plastic buckle secures it to your waist. There is a large zippered pouch on each side that is big enough to hold large smartphones and plenty of additional gear (see notes at end of review regarding the metal zippers). A unique feature of the waist strap is that each side facing the buckle opens to reveal a pocket that can be used for storing excess straps. 

 

Four cushioned pads make for a comfortable ride

The waist strap pockets hold large phones and more

Suspension

Compared to most packs I’ve used, the shoulder straps on the Backpack Pro are wide, coming in right at 3 inches (7.62 cm) and there is very little narrowing of the straps along the length. There is some very thin padding on the inside of the straps, and I found it to be adequate for running with heavier weight.

The front of the right side strap features a reflective loop and a zippered, crescent-shaped pouch. The pouch holds a pair of gloves or a few gels when closed, or – when opened – a water bottle. This is a neat feature and works best with shorter bottles.

The left side strap includes a reflective loop, as well, and an elastic expandable top loading pouch that holds smaller smartphones (iPhone 5, etc.) securely.

Sternum Strap

There is one sternum strap on this pack. It is made of nylon and includes a piece of elastic that stretches an inch and a half that enables the strap to move when the wearer inhales and exhales. The sternum strap can be adjusted 9 inches vertically, so that it can placed in a comfortable location on the wearer’s chest.

Suspension system. Right strap opens to hold a small water bottle

Fully loaded with a winter jacket secured to the front with straps

Additional Notes

The metal zippers shown in this pre-production pack will be replaced with string pullers to avoid clanging sounds and the water-resistant zip will be upgraded to ensure softer opening.

Bottom Line

The IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro is a fantastic pack for run commuters; especially those that need to transport a laptop and keep their office clothing looking good.

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Disclaimer

IAMRUNBOX provided us with the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro for review, however this did not influence my opinion regarding this product. The thoughts and pictures contained in this review are my own.

By | 2017-04-24T10:45:15+00:00 February 2nd, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , , , |9 Comments

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….!

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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)

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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

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.

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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)

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

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