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. 

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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.

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The New Run Commuters Submission Form

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

The No-Shower Clean Up: Men’s Edition

The No-Shower Cleanup is – for some – almost as controversial as wearing shorts over running tights, or the correct pronunciation of “gif” files (is it “JIF” or “GIF”?) So, do you scrap the morning run commute because your office lacks a shower? You shouldn’t. Here’s a detailed post on how to cool down, clean up, and smell good at the office after your run.

Note: We cover cleaning up after your morning run commute in our Getting Started series (Part 5: Sweaty to Office-Ready), but we wanted to go into a bit more detail so that you would understand – specifically – how it works.

Step 1: Pre-Run Commute Preparation

  • Take a shower at home

  • Pack any refills of cleanup items (baby wipes, deodorant) into your pack

  • Pack any freshly laundered cleanup items (towel, washcloth) into your pack

  • Pack extra running gear for run commute home, if needed

Step 2: Post-Run Commute – Outside the Office

  • Stop a block or two short of your office and walk

  • If necessary, shed clothing on the way to your building to speed up the cool down process

  • If you have extra time, do a few static stretches to aid in muscle recovery

  • Don’t forget to turn off any blinkie lights on your pack!

Step 3: Post-Run Commute – Inside the Office

The first 5 – 10 minutes (Goal: Stop Sweating)

  • Drop your gear; turn a fan on yourself, login to your computer, read emails

  • Use a couple paper towels to dry off your entire head

  • Go fill a water bottle and add ice if available; drink to cool down and rehydrate

  • Eat to replenish carbs and protein (Clif bar, shake, etc.); read more emails; mark any follow-ups as needed (alternatively, you can do this after finishing cleanup)

  • Continue until you are cooled down and no longer sweating

The next 10 minutes (Goal: Clean Yourself Up)

  • Take your wet running gear off, place in a bag (if washing) or hang to dry as-is

  • Wipe down your body with baby wipes

    • 2 wipes for head and neck

    • 1 for underarms

    • 1 for chest and stomach

    •  1 for groin

    •  1-2 for legs and feet

  • Or, wipe down your body with a athletic/sport wipe

    • Open package and unfold

    • Wipe from your head to your feet, top to bottom

  • Dry off by using the fan

  • Apply deodorant or antiperspirant

  • Apply body powder to groin area

    • Put underwear on

  • Apply foot powder to feet

    • Put socks on

  • Put pants on

  • Apply body spray to chest area

  • Finish getting dressed

Cleanup Supplies (l to r): Deodorant, body spray, body powder, foot powder, baby wipes, athletic wipe

Size comparison between Action Wipe and standard baby wipe

The final 5 minutes (Goal: Finishing Touches)

  • Head to the restroom

  • Bring a towel, washcloth, soap, and hair products

  •  Stick your head over the sink and run/scoop water over your head; wash with soap, if needed, and dry your head off

  • Fix your hair

  • You’re done!

Notes:

  • Your cleanup routine will be easier if you have short (or no) hair

  • Unscented baby wipes are better than scented

  • Microfiber towels and washcloths seem to work better than cotton for absorption and cleaning

  • You will be fine without using powder at all, but it helps to absorb moisture and odors that arise during the day

  • You can wash your running gear in the bathroom sink after you’ve cleaned up – “camp soap” works great as a detergent.

Advanced Cleanup Technique

Clean your running gear in the bathroom sink!

Get your clothes wet, and wring the sweaty water out

Add some soap, squish and scrub until adequately soapy, then rinse and wring out again

Hang them in front of a fan in your office

By the end of the day, you’ll have fresh, clean running gear to put on for the run commute home

Review: IAMRUNBOX Garment Carrier

How do you carry your clothes to work? Some people roll them. Others fold them and place them carefully inside their packs. But perhaps you work in an office environment that requires you to wear business attire and your clothes need to look good and freshly-ironed at all times. What do you do then? We recently tested out a product that was made to keep your clothes looking great straight out of your backpack.

What is the IAMRUNBOX?

The IAMRUNBOX is not itself a backpack. Rather, it is a garment carrier designed to fit inside a backpack, carry-on, or suitcase. Overall, the carrier is quite simple, consisting of a semi-soft outer shell, which unzips into two rectangular halves. One side has a small pocket and the other is empty. A single, small carrying handle can be found at the top of the carrier. Included with the IAMRUNBOX is a clothing folding guide and a mesh bag for additional accessories, such as a belt or wallet.

How to fold and pack your clothing

Choose your clothes for the day, then iron and let them cool. If you pack them away hot, your folds may create wrinkles that stubbornly stick around for the rest of the day. Once they have cooled, the folding can begin. Start with the shirt.

Button the top and bottom buttons of your shirt at the very least, then lay it out button-side down and flatten out creases. Place the folding guide at the top of the shirt, centered, underneath the collar. Fold one side over and fold the sleeve into the center. Repeat for the other side. Then, fold the bottom of the shirt up towards the collar, and fold the excess underneath. Place your folded shirt in the IAMRUNBOX. Do not remove the folding guide from the inside of the folded shirt. It works extremely well as a shirt/blouse/skirt stiffener!

Next, fold your pants in half, and then fold in half them once more. Place on top of shirt. Place any remaining undergarments, on top of your shirt and pants. If you have any accessories in the mesh bag, place that on top, as well. Then close the carrier.

Performance

Its semi-soft shell holds its form while inside the pack and, surprisingly, the clothing items remain in place after a long run without bunching up in the bottom. It does take up a lot of space, so it might be best to leave your shoes or other large items at the office.

I tested the IAMRUNBOX while run commuting in multiple packs for over a month. My clothes looked much better than they had while using the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter. This is no doubt due to the shell on the IAMRUNBOX versus the thin, poly material of the Specter that constricts the clothing in order to hold it in place. With the IAMRUNBOX, clothing and garment carrier coexist peacefully without the crushing and smashing involved with other products and packing methods.

It’s nice to finally see a product that is made for run commuting! It may be heavier than some runners prefer, but if you want your clothes to come out looking good at work, use the IAMRUNBOX on your run commute.

Specifications

IAMRUNBOX

  • Weight: 15 oz. (425g)

  • Capacity: 2 shirts; 1 shirt and pants/skirt (plus undergarments and accessories)

  • Not suitable for carrying suit jackets, blazers, or shoes in addition to a basic set of work clothes.

  • Price: $47.00 (£30)

Size Comparisons

I thought it would be a good idea to show how the IAMRUNBOX looks next to some of the backpacks listed above. Here are a few:

* Disclosure: IAMRUNBOX provided us a free garment carrier for this review.

By | 2017-02-02T14:38:21+00:00 September 5th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

2015 – The Year of The Run Commute

What better way to kick off the new year than to start run commuting? For those who are thinking about it, check out our Beginner posts below. Already a run commuter? Great! Maybe your new year’s resolution could be to run commute more frequently this year? Let’s make 2015 the Year of the Run Commute

Need some inspiration? Read profiles of new run commuters here.

Part 1: Mentality

Part 2: Route Planning

Part 3: Gear and Transporting it to the Office

Part 4: What to Wear

Part 5: From Sweaty to Office-Ready

Have more questions?

Check out the FAQs

Or

Email Us

The New Run Commuters – April 2014

In this month’s TNRC feature, we profile M. Suzette from Atlanta, GA, and Presh from Washington D.C. Loving the city life and rich history of D.C., Presh talks about packing light and that familiar, sinking feeling of being passed by a runner while sitting in traffic. M. Suzette, a nurse at a children’s hospital here in Atlanta, talks about choosing run commuting over the lure of wine and long shuttle bus rides. She is also TRC’s newest contributor, so stay tuned for more on M. Suzette and her tips, tricks, and stories about running to work!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: M. Suzette Birdling
    New Run Commuter M. Suzette - Before and After

    New Run Commuter M. Suzette – Before and After

  • Age: 35
  • City/State: Atlanta, GA
  • Profession/Employer: Registered nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Number of years running: 5
  • # of races you participate in a year: I pay for 1 or 2 (Peachtree and one other), but I race myself every time I go out.
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I have to have a preference? I love them both! Sometimes I want to feel like a wild animal running and jumping over obstacles through the woods, and sometimes I prefer the urban wilderness, dodging cars and navigating uneven pavement.

Run Commuting Gear

M. Suzette's backpack contents

M. Suzette’s backpack contents

  • Backpack: Camelbak Mule without the bladder. 
  • Shoes: I alternate between a pair of Saucony Ride 5 and Brooks Ravenna 4
  • Clothing: Shorts, tech fabric shirt, knee socks and a lightweight pullover if it’s below 30 degrees, shorties and no pullover if it’s warmer. Occasionally if the weather is different than I anticipated, I will run home in all or part of my uniform.
  • Outerwear: I wear a Nike Run pullover hoodie for warmth. It has lots of reflective patches which is a bonus. I’ve been lucky and not had rain any day that I planned to run commute, so I actually don’t have any rain gear. I’m not sure yet how I’ll handle rain.
  • Headgear: None. I fix my hair before I leave home, and headgear would mess it up! 
  • Lights: Err, none. I have reflective things on my pack and shorts and shoes though.
  • Hydration: It’s only 2.7 miles, I just drink when I get there.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

A couple of months ago CHOA moved a lot of our parking over to Emory. We then take a shuttle bus to the hospital. It took my 2.7 mile/ 15 min car commute to over 35 minutes. I thought about riding my bike, but then I saw The Run Commuter website and knew I’d found a great solution to multiple problems. I am a single mother and I work long shifts. Most of my runs are while the kids are at school. And after getting up at the crack, working a 12+ hour shift on my feet all day, I know that if I go home to change for a run, I am going to pour myself a glass of wine instead and hope for more energy tomorrow.  Even though my commute isn’t very far, it takes less time to run there than to drive, and I am getting in some exercise on days when I otherwise wouldn’t. Plus, I’m finding it’s incredibly cathartic to change out of my scrubs, lace up my shoes and just run away after a particularly stressful day.

How often do you run commute?

2-3 days a week. I work 12-hr shifts and tend to work them all in a row. I drive in on the first day with a few changes of scrubs, running clothes and shoes, Luna and Lara bars, some fruit like oranges or apples, and all my cleaning-up stuff. I leave it all in my locker until the last shift of the week when I drive home with all the dirty laundry.

How far is your commute?

Arriving at the office

Arriving at the office

It’s 2.7 miles by the shortest route; somehow it feels all uphill both ways. I don’t really try to go fast on the way to work. I don’t want to be a sweat ball when I get there. I have very enthusiastic sweat glands.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I do both. I also bring my breakfast. Usually a pita sandwich of some kind, a piece of fruit and an Illy coffee drink (or 2) in a can.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I like the feeling that I have accomplished at least one good thing for myself in a day. When I get to work, everyone else is still sleepy and grumpy, but I’m sweaty and smiling. My face is bright, and I am awake! 

 

Drying clothes at work

Drying clothes at work

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

Nope, no one. I often run past a gentleman (going the opposite direction) who looks like he might be run-commuting. We just do the “Hey, Other Runner! God that hill sucks. No way, I’m not out of breath…” two-finger wave across Briarcliff Rd though. And the way the hospital greeters look at me when I walk in, like I’ve just stepped off a spaceship, suggests that not a lot of other people run commute there.

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

I just drive, park with the rest of the red-headed stepchildren, and ride das Bus.

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

Once you get yourself organized, it’s easier than you think. You’re not going to stink, and no one cares if your hair is perfect anyway. 

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 Runner Basics

  • Name: Presh (“Precious”)
Presh ready to run

New Run Commuter Presh

  • Age:  31
  • City/State: Washington, D.C.
  • Profession/Employer:  Regulatory Affairs, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Number of years running:  8 years on and off
  • # of races you participate in a year: 0
  • Do you prefer road or trail?  I find road running the most stimulating.  I’ve given trails a shot, but I’m energized by the city, and people walking, riding bikes, shopping, etc.
  • Run Commuting Gear

    • Backpack: I converted a spacious Targus laptop bag with a snug chest belt.  Winter was brutal, so the bag made it tons easier to carry clothes, my coat and lunch in separate compartments.  To keep the load light, I keep a few pairs of pumps at the office.  For summer, I plan to upgrade to an Osprey.
    • Shoes: Champion Lattice runner
    • Clothing: Random long- and short-sleeve shirts, and my fave Aspire running tights.  Overall, I keep it pretty simple.
    • Outerwear: A light wool sweater to wick sweat, since I tend to warm up rather quickly.
    • Headgear: 180s fleece ear warmers on really cold days; otherwise nothing.
    • Lights: None
    • Hydration: None

    On Run Commuting

    Logan Circle in the morning

    Logan Circle in the morning

    Why did you decide to start run commuting?   

    Last fall, I started running to work for a handful of reasons.  Using public transit, I might spend two hours round-trip just sitting, which is awful.  Add to that anxiety from the heavy AM and PM rush and delays caused by bad driving and motorcades. Lastly, it made sense to integrate my workout into the early part of my day, instead of wasting more time at the gym later.

    How often do you run commute?

    So far, four times a week, but eventually I’d like to run all morning and evening commutes.

    How far is your commute?

    The total distance from home to the office is 6.5 miles, but I run 3.6 miles from home to Georgetown’s shuttle stop in Dupont Circle in the morning, or vice versa in the evening.  

    Do you pack or buy a lunch?

    I pack – helps me save cash and eat a lot healthier.  On non-running days, I replenish my office calorie stash with staples like oatmeal, fruit and nuts.

    What do you like most about run commuting?

    Freedom to enjoy the beauty of Washington, DC at a leisurely pace!  The city has so many architectural jewels off the beaten path of the Mall; it’s hard not to drool during my runs.  Also, every run is a mid-week victory, even when I finish feeling battered by the day.  Not only am I clearing four 5Ks a week but do so with almost zero emissions compared to driving.  And since exercise is built into my day, I no longer have the luxury of finding excuses not to workout.

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

    Dupont - Autumn

    Dupont – Autumn

    No, but here and there I spot a few other run commuters along my route, which is always encouraging.

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

    As an urban dweller, I prefer to leave the car (and the road rage) parked at home, so I take Metrobus.  Unfortunately, the hour-long haul makes me a bit stir crazy.  Every time a runner zooms past the bus, I inwardly cringe and wish I’d brought my running shoes and backpack.

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

    If you’re on the fence, just go for it.  The distance between home and work is probably feasible, so it’s worth it to run, especially if you’re constantly getting stuck in traffic and then park yourself at a desk all day.  Plus, all your friends will envy your strong legs, and you’ll also feel awesome when your doctor applauds you for a low resting heart rate.

    Anything else that you would like to include?

    Protect your back and hips: invest in a good backpack and pack light!

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    Are you interested in being featured in an upcoming The New Run Commuters feature? If so, please let us know by filling out the form below.

    (Note: “New” can be anywhere from a week to a year.)

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    By | 2016-10-22T20:26:41+00:00 April 17th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

    Review: Thorlos Socks

    One of the most overlooked pieces of running gear has got to be socks. Around here, we talk about socks quite a bit. At trail races, we occasionally overhear brief discussions about interesting looking specialty socks; another runner’s knee-high, neon green compression toe socks, for example. However, I rarely hear conversations about someone’s everyday running socks. That is, unless you are talking about Thorlos

    People that we know who wear Thorlos, love them. Whether they wear them for running, tennis, or walking, they can’t say enough good things about them. In fact, many who try them, soon become loyal Thorlos wearers for life.

    Thorlos, Thorlos 84N, Thorlos Trail Running, Thorlos More Casual Comfort, Thorlo

    Thorlos 84N Runner, Experia, Trail Runner, and More Casual Comfort

    Recently, Thorlos sent us four pairs of their clinically tested, award-winning, made-in-America padded socks to test out; three for running on roads or trails, and one pair for wearing around the office. It’s hard to tell whether socks are “good” or not without putting in some decent mileage under a variety of conditions. So, we ran these through as many conditions as we could over the past month to ensure we could provide the best opinion possible.

     Thorlos 84N Runner

    Thorlos, Thorlos 84N, Thorlo, road running socks

    On the foot

    Thorlos, Thorlos 84N, Thorlo, road running socks, Merrell Mix Master Road Shoes

    Thorlos 84N Runners and Merrell Mix Master Road Shoes.

    Made for “feet that hurt,” the 84N is definitely the most comfortable running sock out of the three I tested. They are thickly padded, giving your feet a protected environment which allows you to continue your running routine uninterrupted.

    Since my feet don’t normally hurt and are not prone to blisters (another thing the 84N’s help to prevent,) I decided to test them during my normal morning run commute, during two different temperature ranges over the course of two weeks; mild (50F – 60F) and cold (25F- 35F.)

    Upon donning both the socks and shoes, it felt like I was wearing a completely different kind of shoe altogether. My foot was snugly tucked away with little remaining space for movement, including toe wiggle. It felt a little constricting, but not uncomfortable or bulky.

    The 84N’s performed very well under both temperature levels – My feet felt good throughout the whole run, and they were especially warm during the cold commute. That warmth, however, led to lots of fairly normal sweating during the run in mild conditions. Thankfully, the socks wicked as promised, and my feet emerged unscathed. A solid performer.

    Conclusion: Fantastic, comfortable socks suitable for everyday use.  Ideal for running short and long distances, or as a recovery sock after a long distance race. 

    Thorlos Experia Socks

    Thorlos, Thorlos Experia, Thorlo, Merrell Mix Master Road

    Thorlos Experia with Merrell Mix Master Road Shoes

    Thorlos, Thorlos Experia, Thorlo, padded running socks

    Thorlos Experia with Lite Pads

    I wore these during several morning commutes, including a rainy morning run and was quite pleased with the comfort and wicking properties of the pads. Unlike the rest of the socks in this review, the Experia have “Lite” pads, as opposed to the thicker, engineered pads (CTPS) that the others contain. For the most part, the Experias are primarily made of a thin, blended material (Coolmax) that is mesh-like and extremely breathable. In fact, parts of the sock are so thin, that you can actually see through them in places.

    In addition, they are one of Thorlos only socks to come in a wide variety of eye-catching colors, including Electric Orange, Jet Pink, and Very Berry.

    I like the wearing the Experia during most running days, but also enjoy the comfort of the 84N, so I switch back and forth throughout the week.

    Conclusion: Light, minimal, breathable, and padded only where necessary, the Experias are an ideal running sock for short- to middle-distances, under everyday road conditions. Made for feet that don’t hurt.

    Thorlos Trail  Running Socks

    Thorlos, Thorlos Trail Runner, Thorlo, North Face Ultra Guide, trail running socks

    Thorlos Trail Runner Socks paired with North Face Ultra Guides for a snow and ice-filled morning run commute.

    Unlike road running, where surface conditions are relatively unchanging, every step is different from the last while running trails. Rocks and fallen trees are bounded over; muddy paths are slipped along; streams and rivers are crossed. Impact and variability of surface conditions require socks (and shoes, for that matter) that are comfortable over long distances, absorb shock, provide protection, and quickly move moisture away from your skin.

    The Thorlos Trail Sock is very similar to the 84N runner in overall feel. The ball and heel pads add a generous amount of comfort and protection from the ever-changing conditions of the trail and the sock is snug and comfortable all around. Like many trail socks, the top of the sock is higher, to protect from debris, and brushes with sharp sticks and rocks. The instep and arch have extra cushioning for long-lasting comfort.

    The Trail Sock performed extremely well during both a snow and ice-covered commute and while on a road-and-trail morning run to the office. 

    While the snowy commute tested the overall function of the trail shoes I was wearing at the time (North Face Ultra Guide), the Thorlos Trail Sock kept my feet warm and dry throughout. It was also a fairly slow run, with cautious steps while traversing many icy sections, so I couldn’t say much about how well they performed related to impact and quick-changing conditions. 

    For my next tests, I threw in several morning detours, including some trails, for which these socks were designed. Previously, I used Drymax socks during my trail runs, because I was always worried about getting blisters from having wet feet due to regular stream crossings, so, I was a bit apprehensive about trying out anything different.

    Surprisingly, the Thorlos Trail Sock performed much better for two reasons – not only did they quickly wick water away after stream crossings, but they provided a level of long-lasting comfort that I was not used to from other trail socks. This comfort was felt while running the uneven terrain of the trails, stepping (intentionally) on stray rocks and sticks, and while going uphill and down. I’m anxious to try these on a long trail race!

    Conclusion: Great sock for trail (and even road) running. Wicks away water very well, and is very comfortable from start to finish.

    Thorlos More Casual Comfort Socks

    Thorlos, Thorlos More Casual Comfort, Thorlo, office socks, comfortable socks

    Thorlos More Casual Comfort Socks

    I tested the More Casual Comfort sock out during many endless hours of grueling, rigorous… desk work. I’m not on my feet much around the office, but I try to move around as much as I can to keep myself a little bit active throughout the day. 

    The Casual Comfort socks are quite different from my normal office socks. My feet tend to be warm (and stay warm) all day long, so I usually choose a cheaper, thinner sock, hoping that they will allow my foot to breathe properly. This can be a problem after wearing the socks inside dress shoes all day though, as certain fabric blends, well… stink. And, I always rely on my shoes to be comfortable, and the comfort of the socks I wear has never mattered.

    With the Casual Comfort sock, you get a thicker sock with great wicking performance, it is extremely comfortable all day long (It seriously feels like you are walking on a cushion of air,) and best of all NO STINK!  They come in several colors as well – black, khaki, and white.

    Conclusion: A very good sock for wearing all day long while at the office. Looks good with a dress shoe. Warm, but breathable and extremely comfortable overall.

    Important Note

    I have a fairly wide variety of shoes and even though they are all the same size, different types of Thorlos padded socks fit differently depending on the brand and type (road, trail, casual) of shoe I was wearing. In order to ensure proper fit, Thorlos recommends choosing a sock first, then wearing that pair while trying on shoes.

    Thorlos is currently offering a free pair of their padded socks (just pay s&h) to anyone interested in trying them out. Click here for more info, or click on the image in the sidebar.

    For additional information on Thorlos visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or check out their extensive video collection on their YouTube channel.

     

    By | 2016-10-22T20:26:41+00:00 April 16th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

    Gear to Destinkify: Towels and Cloths for your Post-Run Commute Cleanup

    “I could NEVER run to work. There is no shower in my building! What am I supposed to do to get clean and not stink?!?!?”

    We hear this a lot; usually when talking with someone who is thinking about starting to run commute, or while engaging others in discussions on the web. And, yes – some people do have legitimate reasons where a shower is absolutely necessary post-run (long hair, for instance). But for those whose offices lack a shower, you can still be a well-groomed employee without smelling offensive. 

    Stephanie has told us how she packs her clothes for the commute; Kyle wrote about cleaning up in Part 5 of our Getting Started series; and, Anna – in our latest edition of  The New Run Commuters – showed how she dries her running gear after arriving at the office. Over the next few months, we’ll highlight a few pieces of gear, as well as common, everyday supplies that will help you look, and smell, your best at work. First up – towels and cloths.

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    One of the more important items to have for a no-shower cleanup (besides baby wipes) is a towel. I use two – one that I get wet for cleaning, and one for drying off. To help you get yourself as clean as you can after a run, here are a few I’ve tried in the past few months and what I though of them.

    wpid-IMAG0980.jpg

    Norwex Body Cloth

    We were contacted by a Norwex representative who happened upon our site, and she said she was going to send us something she thought would be a great fit for run commuters who cleaned up without a shower.  Several days later we received a Norwex Body Cloth, and we tested it out over the course of a several weeks at the office.

    wpid-IMAG0984.jpg

    First Impression:

    The cloth is small – about 12″ x 12″ – and is made of a blend of 70% polyester and 30% polyamide. Like most microfiber towels and cloths, it’s a little “sticky,” in that it catches on any slight imperfections it finds; dry skin, for example. It is also impregnated with silver, which is supposed to inhibit bacterial growth. The test cloth is green, but it comes in five other colors.

    First use:

    I arrived at the office and cooled down as I normally do. I used baby wipes over most of my body, put on antiperspirant, got dressed, and headed to the restroom. Per the instructions, I wet the Norwex towel down thoroughly, and wrung it out. As I cleaned off my head and face, I noticed two things about the towel – It was extremely refreshing and it smelled really good. After cleaning up, I felt just a little cleaner than I normally do if I just use wipes. It is probably due to the fact that the baby wipes I use leave a moisturizing film on my skin after each use, and was removed by the wipe-down with the towel. Back in my office, I hung the towel up and by lunchtime it was dry.

    For the next several weeks, I used this over and over, bringing it home after a few days and washing it. The towels are sold in a pack of three, which should get you through a full work week. At the end of the week, take them home, wash them, and you are ready to go for another week.

    Conclusion:

    This is a great piece of gear for run commuting. It functions extremely well as a wet cleaning cloth. It cleans the skin very thoroughly, rinses easily, dries fast, and can be used for quite some time before washing. The cloth doesn’t stink. You don’t stink. The world is good.

    Divatex Sport Towel

    wpid-IMAG0985.jpg

    First Impression:

    The largest of the the three towels, the Divatex Sport Towel is 24″ x 47″ in size and, like the Norwex microfiber cloths, extremely soft. It is made from 80% poly/20% nylon, and is thin – about half as thick as the Norwex or Coleman towels.

    First Use:

    After cooling off, wiping down, and getting partially dressed (pants, shoes, undershirt), I grabbed the Divatex and headed to the bathroom. In this version of the cleanup, I used the water from the sink to wet the skin on my head, neck, and face, then scrubbed with soap and rinsed, using the towel to dry off. I repeated the same with my arms and chest (a wash/body cloth, like the previously mentioned Norwex, works best here) Drying off with the Sport Towel was quick and comfortable. The material is soft against the skin, and absorbs water much better than a standard cotton towel. Once finished, I returned to my office, finished dressing, and hung the towel up to dry.

    It didn’t pick up any offensive smells during the testing week and could probably have been used unwashed for two weeks, however, I recommend washing it with your running clothes once a week.

    Conclusion:

    This is a solid piece of gear. It’s a great, lightweight drying-off towel and can go for extended periods of time without washing. And, don’t be fooled by it’s small size compared to a regular bath towel – it will completely dry you off after a shower.

    Coleman Camp Towel

    I purchased this several years ago while researching camping, backpacking, and traveling gear that could also be used for run commuting. It was very inexpensive and looked like it would fit the bill for the post-run cleanup.

    wpid-IMAG0987.jpg

    First Impression:

    Made from “non-woven polyester,” the Coleman Camp Towel has a completely different feel to it than the microfiber towels. It’s rough, scratchy, and very lightweight. But look how easy it is to spot in that smashing yellow color! It measures in at 20″ x 27″.

    First (and last) Use:

    I repeated the same procedure I had with the Divatex Sport Towel and the first thing I noticed was that it is scratchy as hell – just downright uncomfortable against the skin. It’s hard to describe it’s absorbency. It’s hard, because I could not tell if it soaked water up, or merely pushed it off me, similar to that thing you do when you turn the shower off in the morning and realize there isn’t a towel within 50 feet of you – just brush off as much as you can and hope it is good enough.

    On the upside, the thing dries more quickly than any towel I’ve ever used. That might be due to the fact that it never really gets wet though (just a hunch).

    Conclusion:

    No. Don’t use it on yourself. Don’t use it on others. Don’t give it as a gift. Leave it in it’s natural habitat: the camping section of a WalMart store.

    By | 2016-10-22T20:26:42+00:00 March 19th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |3 Comments

    The New Run Commuters – February 2014, Part 1

    After a fantastic response to January’s The New Run Commuters post, we’re back with one of two TNRC features this month. In our first, we introduce you to Chris and Tarun, two runners from different parts of the world, united not only by run commuting, but by teaching as well.

    Chris, an ultramarathoner, uses running for more than just run commuting – he runs errands and picks up his daughter after school in a jogging stroller; while Tarun, takes  a more laid-back approach to running and wisely suggests easing your way into running to work to give yourself time to figure out the logistics of it all.

    As always, if you are interested in being featured in an upcoming TNRC post, please submit the form at the end of this post. Thanks to everyone who has contacted us so far! It’s great hearing all of your stories and your approach to run commuting and life!

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    Runner Basics

    • Name: Chris Van Dykethe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke
    • Age: 35
    • City/State: Brooklyn, NY
    • Profession/Employer: High School English Teacher, New York City Department of Education
    • Number of years running: 7 ½
    • # of races you participate in a year: I used to race all the time – the first year I qualified for the NYC Marathon in 2008, I ran thirteen races.  Since having kids, not many.  I always try to do the Bed-Stuy 10K, since it’s the only road race held in my neighborhood, and I like that it’s small and local and in a neighborhood most people don’t think of when they think of running.  The few races I do tend to be really long – this year it was a 24-hour ultra, last year a 50K trail run and a marathon.
    • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)?  Despite the current “correct” answer being trails, I have to say I love both.  Being in Brooklyn, I really wish I could get out and run more trails, but I honestly love running in the city.  I love discovering new neighborhoods or new routes to the same locations, and try to approach any of the “disadvantages” of road-running as opportunities in disguise: hurtling a pile of garbage blocking the side-walk adds a bit of flair to one’s run.

    Run Commuting Gear

    • Backpack: Osprey Stratus 24.  Super light-weight but massive capacity.  Lots of straps to keep things locked down, very roomy waist-pack pockets, and comes with a rain-cover.
    • Shoes: Mostly ultra-minimal, always zero-drop.  When the weather is warm, I wear Unshoe’s Pah Tempe sandals.  When shoes are required, I rotate between Merrell Roadgloves and Altra’s The One.  For trails or bad weather, Altra Lone Peaks
    • Clothing:  Until its freezing, shorts (Target brand) and either singlets or technical T’s, mostly just one’s I’ve gotten at races.  Basically I try to wear as little as possible whatever the weather, and push what most people think is reasonable to an extreme.  I’m used to people yelling, “Aren’t you cold?” as I pass.
    • Outerwear: When it drops into the 30’s or lower, I have a pair of CW-X tights and a Craft jacket I dropped some real cash on over five years ago and they’ve held up great.  I also have a crushable Sierra rain fly that I can toss in my pack if it looks like rain, and a pair of North Face water-proof pants.  For extreme winter weather, I’ve got a balaclava and facemask, a few pairs of layering gloves, and Yak Tracks for my shoes.  It’s all about layers; one of the advantages of running with a pack is you have somewhere to stash clothes if you get too hot, or keep a raincoat just in case.
    • Headgear: Normally just a visor.  Running hat in the autumn; skully when its freezing. 
    • Lights:  The streets of Brooklyn are pretty well-lit any time of day, so I don’t really use lights.  I do have a Black-Diamond head-lamp and a few clip-on flashing lights in my bag just in case.
    • Hydration:  Typically nothing, as my commute isn’t that long.  If I’m going longer, I’m a fan of hand-helds.  I have a 20oz Amphipod and an Ultimate Direction Quickdraw.  Mostly that’s for long weekend runs, not commuting.

    On Run Commuting

    Why did you decide to start run commuting?

    I’ve been running for years, and it’s my favorite way to get around New York.   Once my kids were born it got harder and harder to find time to fit in runs, and at the same time I started teaching at a new school that was less than 3 miles from my apartment.  My school is in East Flatbush, which is nowhere near a subway line, so my only public transportation option is bus, which I hate: buses are crowded, slow, and you can waste so much time just waiting for them.   At first I biked to work and would run once in a while, but after my bike was stolen, I took it as an opportunity to step up my run commute.

    How often do you run commute?

    Five days a week, to and from work.  I’ve run both ways every day since the school year started, with only two exceptions.  I took off the Friday before a 24-hour ultra, and I got a ride after work to the staff Holiday party.  Other than that, I’ve run every day.

    How far is your commute?

    2.5 miles each way, so 5 miles total.  Sometimes longer if I have errands to run – if I have to stop by the post-office, grocery store, or pick up my daughter at school, it can add up to 2 miles to the trip home.

    Do you pack or buy a lunch?

    Pack.  I actually make myself a massive salad every day for lunch.  I have a mini-fridge at work, and I run in supplies a few times a week.  Fridays I run my salad bowl, knife, utensils, and cutting board home to run them through the dishwasher, then run them in with lots of veggies on Monday.  Any day of the week my pack might have home-made baked tofu, garbanzo beans, a couple of avocados, spinach, carrots, or bags of brewer’s yeast.   I amuse my students by pulling just about anything out of by bag.

    the run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke, running with groceries

    Chris runs his lunch supplies in to work every week.

    What do you like most about run commuting?

    What’s not to like?  I get to fit in a run every day and avoid a bus or car commute – it’s like finding free time in your day!  How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?  I love starting the day with exercise, and ending work with some stress-relief.  And once I’m at work, it forces me to get in the run home and gets past excuses and lazy days.  Every so often I don’t want to run home but don’t have any choice, then end up loving my run. 

    My absolute favorite part, however, is the small group of “friends” I’ve made over the last year along my route, strangers I see every few days who wave and say hi, since I’m the only person running in East Flatbush in the morning.  There’s a woman at one of the housing projects who calls me “sexy legs” whenever she sees me, and that always shaves a few minutes off my time.  Last week some guy stopped me to say I’d inspired him to start running again.  Then there’s a mom who walks her two sons to school in the morning, and I pass them almost every day.  We always say hi, and this year we exchanged Christmas cards.  It reminds me that Brooklyn isn’t so much one big city as a whole lot of small towns just crammed together.

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

    No.  I’ve got a number of co-workers who bike, but I’m the only one who runs.  I’m pretty much the only person I see running in this part of Brooklyn ever. 

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

    My school is a mile from the subway, so it would have to be the bus, as I don’t own a car.  The bus I’d take, the B47, takes me, on average, 45 minutes.  I can run my commute in 25 minutes if I’m lazy, sub-20 if I’m pushing myself.  If I wasn’t running I’d bike, but frankly I prefer running.  Much more relaxing, and a lot less maintenance. Basically, I don’t think of there as being options – I run, period.  I run in the snow, in the rain, in the dark.  I ran during the polar vortex in negative 15.  If there’s going to be severe weather or I have to take in books or clothes, I don’t think “How am I going to get to work?” I think “How am I going to do this while running?”  With the right gear and a bit of stubbornness, anything is runnable.

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

    Just do it – the logistics really are a lot less daunting that you think.  Once you have a few work outfits at the office (and a can of body spray!) you’re set on that end.  A good pack is really the only essential “specialty” gear, and since you’ll spend a lot of time with it, try it on and spend enough to get something comfortable that suits your needs.  But you’d be surprised that, with a little planning a head, how little you actually need to get you to work.  I’m lucky, in that I’ve got an easy distance to do round-trip, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Run to the commuter train or bus stop; get a ride and run the last 5 miles.  Break the route into a runnable chunk and then do it.  I’m also a huge fan of pod-casts when I run.  At some point, your run does just become a commute, some distance you have to cover to get to work or to get home.  I try to find enjoyment in every run, but sometimes, when its dark and cold, I just need to tune out with some NPR Pop-Culture Happy Hour and commute.

    Anything else that you would like to include?

    Work doesn’t have to be the only “practical” destination for a run – the post office, drug-store, even small grocery trips can be a place you can fit in a run.  I’m fortunate that New York City is so compact, so much of what I need is within runnable distance.  After you factor in how long you have to wait for a train or a bus, or to look for parking, running is one of the most efficient ways to move around the city.  Once I realized that, I started running most of my errands.  That’s when a good pack is essential.  I can fit most daily grocery needs in my pack.  At an extreme, I’ve run two miles home with 20 pounds of dog-food on my back and a USPS package under one arm.  I’ve got a massive BOB double-jogging stroller, so I can run my kids to the park, with me to store, to gym class.  If you decide to run home 4 miles after a staff happy-hour, I do suggest you stop after the third beer.

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    Runner Basics

    • Name: Tarun Rajanthe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, tarun rajan
    • Age: 31
    • City/State: Sydney/NSW/Australia
    • Profession/Employer: Biology Teacher at Macquarie University
    • Number of years running: 4
    • # of races you participate in a year: Did four last year, with hopes of doing more this year.
    • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I like running trails, but for the sheer ease of getting out and doing it, road running works for me.

     Run Commuting Gear

    •  Backpack: I currently use a High Sierra 14L backpack that I picked up from Costco for not much. I removed the bladder from it to make room for things to carry to work.
    • Shoes: I have big dreams of running bare feet, but for now I pound the road in Brooks Ravenna 4.
    • Clothing: I use the running singlets that get given out at races and just about any shorts I have sitting in the cupboard.
    • Outerwear: It doesn’t get that cold in Sydney during winter. I don’t own a jacket or a base layer. Generally just run with a singlet or t-shirt on.
    • Headgear: Don’t wear one.
    • Lights: I run on dedicated cycleways which are well illuminated. Haven’t bothered purchasing one.
    • Hydration: I use a Caribee 1.5 hydration pack for my longer runs (15+km). I just drink plenty of water when I’m home or once I reach work.

    On Run Commuting

    Why did you decide to start run commuting?

    It’s good from a time management and financial perspective (don’t have to worry about parking tickets, petrol). I’ve only been doing this for 3 months though, so am fairly new.

    How often do you run commute?

    I run commute thrice a week (to and fro.)

    How far is your commute?

    Distance ranges from 6.5 to 10km depending on which route I take. If I’m in a hurry, I take the shortest route, but some days I run the longer distance just to mix it up.

    Do you pack or buy a lunch?

    I bring lunch from home everyday. I’ve got some decent Tupperware boxes which I cover in a plastic bag and put in my backpack.

    What do you like most about run commuting?

    It’s cheap, convenient and faster to get around during peak hours and I’ve heard some say it’s not too bad for your health either! Other commuters (bike, run) acknowledge you and it provides some motivation.

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

    Glen, my mate, is a God at running. He clocks some amazing mileage. He’s a real inspiration. I’ve taken to run commuting after him. He’s just so good at it. At this point in time, I only know of us two commuting to work on foot.

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

    I ride the bike to work twice a week (on Mondays and Fridays). I get my clothes for the week in a bigger backpack and store in the locker. Work is great, in that we have showers and lockers.

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

    Logistics are definitely a big issue. It takes a few goes to see what works for you. Take only what is essential, try and get it to work on days when you aren’t running.  Try and ease into commuting.  

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    If you are a new run commuter and want the running world to hear your story, let us know!
    We are now accepting submissions for April and May. If you are interested, submit the form below and we’ll contact you.
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    How to Arrive at Work Wrinkle- and Stain-Free

    How do I keep my work clothes from getting wrinkled is a question I have been asked a lot regarding run commuting.  Each run commuter carries different items to and from work depending on their access to showers or enough storage at work (e.g., TRC posts: Josh & Kyle).  In this blog post, I’d like to share with readers my technique for making it to my work cubical without looking like I ran in.

    Each day, I carry my work clothes, heels, undergarments and, often, lunch to work in my backpack.  The solution to keeping my clothes wrinkle- and lunch-free is a combination of laundry garment bags and an extra plastic bag around the food container.  Laundry garment bags are light-weight cloth bags used to protect delicate items in the wash. They are inexpensive and can be purchased in almost every super market near the laundry detergent.  An alternative to the garment bags would be to use other cloth or plastic bags.

    wrinkle-free clothes
    My work attire typically includes dry-cleaned slacks, work top, cardigan, undergarments, and a pair of shoes.  The clothes packing process follows this order, as pictured:

    step 1 – obtain laundry garment bags

    step 2 – lay out clothes

    step 3 – roll clothes up like a stromboli (e.g., Kyle’s TRC post)

    step 4 – wrap the clothes roll in the garment bag

    I have even carried a suit jacket using this method and arrived at meetings wrinkle-free.  Rolling the clothes and placing them in a garment bag helps to give the clothes more strength and form, so they do not crumple in the backpack.  Additionally, the garment bag adds a bit of protection from spills in the backpack if you’re carrying toiletries, food, or from an unexpected rain soaking.

    Shoes don’t really wrinkle, but I still place them in a shoe bag.  The bag was free and protects the shoes from potential spills and protects my clothes and lunch from my dirty shoes.

    lunch-free clothes
    Pick a sturdy container to put the food in, wrap it up in an extra plastic bag, and place it at the bottom of your backpack.  If the container spills, gravity will help the food stay away from your clothes.  If the container is on top, gravity will do everything to get the food all over your clothes.
    Yes, this is soup.  I have successfully run commuted with soup in my pack.

    final stages
    This is what my daily backpack load looks like:

    All my shower needs are pre-staged at work, so I shower and pull myself all together.  Here’s the final product, at work and wrinkle-free:

    Taking this photo was the most difficult part of this blog post.  It was hard for me to look at the mirror and click the button at the same time, so hard in fact, I forgot to smile!  Here’s what you missed:   :D

    I hope this post helps a few ladies and gents stay stylish at work without sacrificing sportiness during their commute.

    TalkJogRun Interview with The Run Commuter

    On Monday, Kyle and I sat down for a chat with Caitlin Seick of WalkJogRun, a popular running route finding and planning website, and talked all about run commuting. WalkJogRun’s iPad app recently  hit #7 in the health and fitness category, so check it out now, hipster, so you can say you knew all about it before it was #1. Blog post with audio/podcast below.

    Article:  Running To Work – WalkBlogRun

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