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  • Icebug - Featured and Main

Review: Icebug Mist RB9X Shoes

A pair of shoes from a Swedish company named “Icebug” wouldn’t seem to be appropriate for running in the hot, humid summers of the American South, however, I was quite surprised – they’re pretty damned good.

Though you may not have seen anyone running in Icebugs lately, the company has been around for almost 15 years. They have only had a market presence in the United States for the past few years, however, and just recently opened a unique testing center in Shale Hill, Vermont where the public can try out the shoes at their on-site obstacle course.

I tried out a pair of their Mist RB9X shoes over the past couple of months. Here’s a summary of their performance for both running and run commuting.

Icebug Mist RB9X

Icebug Mist RB9X (US Size 10)

“We were frustrated by having to choose between slipping and saying [sic] no to outdoor activities because of the risk of slipping. The company started as a result of us wanting to be able to stay active year-round.”

– On the origin of Icebug shoes

Initial Wear and Run

The shoes fit great and are true to size. I love the off-center tongue loop and the cushiony feel of the tongue and collar. It makes for a very comfortable feeling around the ankles.

They’re slightly flexible. They initially feel quite stiff and you don’t really feel any cushioning underfoot.

The tread is amazing and makes Icebug shoes stand out from the competitiors. The crazy combination of rubber knobs, raised surfaces, little rounded buttons, and corrugations seem out of place on a road shoe, so I was a bit leery at first about how the Mists would run on streets.   

The upper is made of a tough, durable mesh. While you would expect a mesh upper to be breathable, the Mists seem to surpass that expectation. I had a fan on nearby when I first tried them on and you could feel the breeze pass through extremely well.The only shoe that I’ve worn with a similar breeziness were the Salomon Techamphibians, which – oddly enough – were the shoes I used for run commuting when I first started almost 7 years ago.

Quick Facts

5 mm Drop

9.4 oz. Weight

Rubber 9 Extreme Outsole

Minimal Cushioning (though listed as Medium)

One Color Option (Shell and Sapphire)

My test run – a 5.3-mile morning run commute through urban and suburban neighborhoods – went quite well. My initial thoughts after I finished:

  • The shoes are stiff, but feel fine on the run
  • Terrain grip is excellent
  • Feet did not get warm on hot day while running
  • Did not feel rocks or roots underfoot

To expand upon several of the points above, let’s take a closer look at the traction on the sole.

The tread pattern is grippy on flat, smooth surfaces and very functional on rough terrain. They worked extremely well in all conditions I tested. 

Extended Test Period – Road and Trail

After running over 60 miles in the shoes, I’ve found that the shoes pair best with a slightly padded sock, such as the Thorlo Experia or Trail Runner, rather than a thinner one like the Drymax Lite-Mesh sock. The stiff insole allows the foot to slide around inside a bit too much otherwise. Buying a half size smaller may solve the issue, though I prefer a looser fit in the midfoot and toe.

The shoes are solid performers in the city. You never know what kinds of conditions or terrain you will come across during a run commute, and, in my case, whatever those happened to be, the Mists handled them exceptionally well. Here are some of the surfaces and/or conditions that I encountered:

  • Wet and dry concrete
  • Wet and dry asphalt
  • Dirt trails
  • Stream crossings
  • Slightly muddy trails
  • Heavy-volume rainstorms
  • Gravel
  • Medium-sized stone paths (think railroad grades)
  • Dusty, pollen-covered, and wet steel road plates
  • Wooden footbridges

On my trail test runs, I took them through several stream crossings and was amazed at how well they both shed water and returned to their pre-submerged state. With some trail shoes, the cushioning and upper retain moisture for a long time, leaving you with wet feet and soggy, squishy, heavy steps for up to a mile-and-a-half afterwards.

These shoes would be ideal for obstacle course racing, where the terrain and surface conditions change frequently and you are constantly getting wet. Apparently, I was not the first to realize this – Icebug was just signed on as the official footwear sponsor of the 2015 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships.

Pros

  • Comfortable, airy upper
  • Durable construction
  • Rock-solid tread for any conditions
  • Drains water extremely well
  • Dries quickly
  • Great for road and trail

Cons

  • Little cushioning
  • Rubbed a little on longer runs (8+ miles)

Summary

For the run commuter, the Icebug Mists will treat you well overall. They’re a good, all-around run commuting shoe, in which one can easily switch from hopping paver stones along a sidewalk, to bombing down steep trails and plunging through streams on the detour in to your office. Best for up to mid-distance commutes (5 – 8 miles), and those accustomed to running in minimal shoes.

Icebug’s International Website

* Disclosure: Icebug provided us a pair of Mists for this review.

By |July 13th, 2015|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , |0 Comments
  • Deuter_Futura22_Featured

Review: Deuter Futura 22 Backpack

All of us down here at The Run Commuter’s Atlanta, GA headquarters decided it was time to get some new packs to test out, so over the next few months, we’ll have some in-depth insight and detailed field test results from a handful of running backpacks. First up, the Deuter Futura 22.

Performance and Evaluation

Blinkie lights will fit in between the zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

I ran approximately 50 miles with the Deuter during rainstorms, extreme cold weather, and mild-to-warm days over several weeks.

When I first put the pack on, I immediately noticed how much more comfortable it was than the Osprey Manta 20. That was entirely a result of the thick padding within both the shoulder and waist straps, as well as a small patch of cushioning that rests between your shoulder blades.

The lower portion of the frame felt like two fists gently pushing into my kidneys. It was strange, and normally something you’d experience in an external-frame hiking backpack.

The break-in period for the pack ranged from 10 – 15 miles. What happened during that time was two-fold – One, the straps loosened slightly from their stiff out-of-the-box feel; and two, the waist strap cushioning softened. These two things together allowed the pack to adjust and fit the individual shape of my body much better than it had when brand new, leading to a more comfortable run (Note: this is normal for all packs, with some variability in the length of time it takes.) The “two-fists-pushing-into-my-kidneys” feel gradually lessened, with a bit more use, changing from slightly uncomfortable to unnoticeable.

The rain cover is tucked away in the standard location at the base of the pack and stays on without using a plastic toggle spring like Osprey rain covers, which tend to drift in between your back and the pack while moving, creating some discomfort. I used the rain cover during my first test run with the Futura. It deployed and went on quickly, and kept the pack, and the items inside, secure and dry.

I experienced absolutely no hot spots or abrasion areas. None. Some days I used the pack while wearing full winter gear, with several layers between my body and the pack; some days it was just a single tech shirt. No chafing, whatsoever.

There are no attachments for lights on the back of the pack, but I found that blinking lights could be added in between the dual zippers on the top and bottom of the pack.

In addition, the hiking poles attachment (seen on the left side of the pack) works quite well for carrying a long-handled umbrella to or from work.

Overall, the Deuter Futura 22 is a great pack for run commuting and I would put it in a tie for first place with the Osprey Manta 20, followed closely by the Osprey Stratos 24.

What I Liked

Volume: Very roomy; enough space for work clothes, lunch, and a winter jacket

Strap Padding: Very thick and comfortable

Bottom Pouch with main compartment access

Raincover is effective and does not use a plastic toggle spring

What I Didn’t Like

No pouches on waist strap

Cannot access side pouches while running

No blinkie/light attachments on back of pack (I use Amphipod Vizlets in between the dual zippers for low-light conditions)

It should be noted that these certainly wouldn’t keep me from purchasing this pack.

Let’s Get Down to Details

 Volume

22 Liters

Weight

2.5 pounds

Material

60% polyester

40% nylon

Color

Papaya/Stone

Price

Buy It Now

Amazon.com

Front

The front of the Deuter Futura 22 includes a large, fold-down zippered accessories pouch at the top, and a rounded, dual-zippered compartment at the bottom. Inside the accessories compartment are several standard mesh pouches and key clips for keeping your small items organized and in-place while moving.

The front of the Futura 22 includes two compartments and four small areas of reflective material.

The accessories pouch is large and will easily hold all of your personal items, like cell phone, wallet, and keys.

Sides

Both sides of the pack feature elastic-topped pouches which are crossed over by the packs lower set of external compression straps. Each pouch is partially-covered by reflective material that wraps around to the front of the pack.

Each side includes an elastic pouch and both a lower and upper set of external compression straps.

Main Compartment

The main compartment, while very basic, is extremely roomy. It easily fits my Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, winter jacket, lunch, and extra running gear, with space to spare. The Futura is hydration compatible, and includes a hydration sleeve and velcro attachment (shown below,) as well as a tube slot at the top of the pack.

The spacious main compartment, with hydration sleeve and attachment

Bottom Compartment

The bottom compartment, open.

The bottom compartment is not a normal feature of run commuting packs. Standard packs generally have a large main compartment and one or two smaller accessories pouches near the top.

Inside view, showing the zippered access to the bottom of the main compartment.

Back/Suspension

The Deuter Futura 22’s suspension system.

Deuter’s breathable suspension system, called AirComfort, is very similar in concept to the AirSpeed frames that Osprey manufactures. The one noticeable difference is that the Futura’s wire frame forms an “X,” whereas Osprey’s lightwire frame forms a rectangle. This gives the Futura a little more malleability at the sides, allowing it to contour to your shape a little better than the Osprey.

Rain Cover

In my opinion, a rain cover should be a feature on any pack you use for run commuting. If you get caught in a rainstorm, you only have to stop for a few seconds to unzip and cover your pack, keeping nay electronics and dress clothing dry and out of the weather. Deuter even added a reflective logo to the cover, so when it is on and covering up the pack’s standard reflective fabric areas, you still have a little extra something to keep you visible to drivers.

The Futura’s rain cover is found at the very bottom of the pack.

The rain cover on the pack.

By |March 3rd, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , , |6 Comments
  • Kate - Featured

The New Run Commuters – January 2015

In our first edition of The New Run Commuters for 2015, we meet Kate Livett from Sydney, Australia. Kate is a recent and die-hard convert to run commuting and though her job contracts and office locations often change, she’s determined to make the run to or from work no matter the circumstances. Rock on, Kate!

If you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the post and we’ll get started on your profile. We look forward to hearing your stories! 

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Runner Basics

image

New Run Commuter Kate Livett

  • Name: Kate Livett
  • Age: 36
  • Hometown: Sydney, Australia
  • Profession/Employer: Academic (English Literature), various universities around Sydney (currently UNSW)
  • Number of years running: 7 years
  • Number of races per year: None. I went in a couple of road races and was not a huge fan of the crowds, but I’m planning to do some trail ultras in 2015.
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Trails are my passion (Whenever I can I run on trails.) I’m very lucky to live 40 minutes’ drive from a massive national park of native forest with very technical, rocky and rootsy singletrack, loads of mini-waterfalls, giant goannas, echidnas, kangaroos, poisonous snakes (!), unspoiled coastline and generally all-round amazing natural beauty. I try to run in the national park at least once a week. Running in the city, I enjoy looking at people’s gardens and meeting cats and dogs or watching birds in trees, etc., but I hate the aggressive drivers in Sydney, and constantly having to be ‘on my guard’ against crazy cars.

Gear

  • Backpack: I have several…*ahem*. Depending on weather and load, I switch between the Deuter SpeedLite 10, Osprey Stratos 24, Salomon Advanced Skin Set 12 (2013 version) on the road, and Ultimate Direction Wasp and Nathan Intensity for trails. For me, backpacks are as important to get right as shoes.
  • Shoes: Altra Torin for road, Altra Superior and Lone Peak 1.5 for trails, Inov-8 Trailroc 235 for super-technical trails and hills (though,they are too narrow and give me blisters), and flip-flops with shoelaces around the heels for homemade huaraches when it’s hot (see photo). I love zero-drop and wide toeboxes.
  • Clothing: I try to buy from brands that respect at least one of the following ethical criteria: vegan/environmentally sustainable/workers’ rights. This is very limiting; for example, I won’t buy Salomon or Nathan from now on. I know, I know, I have packs by both those brands. They’re awesome packs, too. But, I made the decision to try to “buy ethically” just after I got the Advanced Skin Set and starting sometime is better than never, right? I am hoping they will get some specific policies on ethical issues soon, so I can buy their stuff again! I just bought a long-sleeved Patagonia capilene tee with UPF50+ sun protection. It’s made of 60% recycled plastic bottles. I’ve worn it twice in 90 minute runs in 30-degrees Celsius, and it’s totally awesome — cool and light and protective. Moving Comfort bras. Basic running shorts.
  • Outerwear: Puma PE windbreaker jacket for trail and when I’m not commuting. For run commuting in winter a huge yellow neon cycling windbreaker, which i wear with my pack underneath. It makes me look pretty silly, but ‘safety first’…
  • Headgear: I always wear a cap and Polaroid sunglasses.
  • Lighting: Two bicycle froglights on my pack and reflective clothing.
  • Hydration: None in winter. In summer, I will drink up to a litre of water on the exact same run. I recently bought two Ultimate Direction soft-flasks (see them in the front pockets of my pack in the photo). They’re pricey, but i cannot recommend them highly enough — best investment ever, for trail and road. You don’t have to run with half-empty or empty bottles all the time. They are much better suited to the female anatomy as well.

General Questions

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I have been obsessed with running since I took it up in my late 20s. Since that time I’ve been employed all over the place at different things, often working from home. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘run commuting’, and always did my running before/after work. Looking back, even if I had heard about it, I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was impossible for me to run commute, as I lacked general ‘running knowledge’ and wouldn’t have felt confident running with a backpack, timing my meals etc.

Last year, though, (having accumulated 6 years’ running experience) I got a contract to work regular 9-5 hours in the Sydney CBD, and about a month before I started, I stumbled on The Run Commuter website. The universe aligned, and I decided I wasn’t going to let my running be sacrificed to employment! I read every post on this site and successfully run commuted for that whole 6 months. I’m about to start another contract with regular hours. My New Year’s Resolution is to embrace the changing GPS coordinates of my employment, and to adapt to run commuting wherever the location of my latest workplace. I’m lucky that my partner is very supportive of my run commuting and doesn’t mind if dinner time is delayed a bit because I’m run commuting home.

image_1

Mishi, checking out Kate’s homemade running sandals

How often do you run commute?

Usually four days a week either to or from (mostly to). I would love to do both ways every day, but it would kill me!

How far is your run commute?

Last year’s 6-month stint was 12-14 km one way, depending on the route. The job I’m just about to start is almost the identical distance.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I try to pack a sandwich and apple. I admire the runners profiled on this site who run with frozen soup, strawberries, etc.! I’m not sure I’d be successful with that…

What do you like most about run commuting?

Chris Van Dyke, one of the first run commuters profiled on this site, says it best when he says: “How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?” Similarly to Chris, I have loved swapping the peak hour public transport experience (cranky sardines in a slow-moving can…) for exercise and personal room to breathe, and I feel physically and mentally invigorated all day after running to work. When I’m run commuting i’m actually excited to go to work. Like most things in life, once you’ve done it the better way it’s hard to go back. Now I get cranky with myself if I don’t get to run commute because I’ve slept in.

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

Runners, no. Quite a few of my colleagues bicycle commute.

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

Train and then bus (unfortunately). Sometimes drive, but parking is impossible and the aggression of other drivers stresses me out.

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

If you’re lucky enough to have showers at work, before you start run commuting try to ascertain what the unofficial “shower schedule” is — if you’re going to be rocking up at the same time each morning you don’t want to find that the shower is “pre-booked” every 15 minutes until lunchtime.

Specifically for the ladies — backpacks are generally made for men’s bodies. It can be discouraging trying to find one that doesn’t bounce, look stupid or feel wrong. Spend extra time researching this key piece of gear, and possibly spend extra cash on it, too. I’ve found it’s worth spending more at the beginning for a superior product– you will save money in the long run by not giving up run commuting due to an uncomfortable pack. (Happily, this logic also justifies my backpack fetish…) At least you’re not shelling out as much as you would for a sport like cycling/golf/triathlon. Also, don’t forget clean socks.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I know some people are put off trying a run commute by the thought that other commuters driving or walking past are ‘judging’ them or staring. But, if you feel self-conscious, just remind yourself: “They are probably very jealous that I am enjoying my commute and they are not.” The other confidence booster I like is the haughty self-question-and-answer: “Are THEY running 12 km to work? No, they aren’t!”

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 I'm interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters!

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  • Snocross 2

Review: Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

Salomon Snowcross CS

Running on ice can be treacherous, and sometimes even dangerous. For many years, I have been carrying a set of Yaktrax for those days where the paths were just too icy to run comfortably. However, I never felt I had stable and solid footing while running with these on, and most of the time, I ended up running much slower than desired. Running intervals with these on was simply just out of the question.

Since running on icy and snowy surfaces north of the 49th parallel is frequent, I started looking for other options. Among them are the IceSpikes. Unfortunately, I was never able to test them since they are, at least in my area, only available through online purchase.

Last Spring, as I was resigned to keep doing my best with my Yaktrax for many more years, I stumbled on a very good deal for a pair of Salomon Snowcross CS.  I had known about these shoes for over two years, but their price tag ($200) was, at least back then, just too high for the family budget. This time though (under 100$), I did not hesitate.

 These shoes stayed in my closet until this past November, where Ottawa started having some relatively inclement weather, which left us with quite a bit of snow, lots of ice and some cold temperature, but still not enough to get the cross country skis out, for about a month.

Not expecting much, I took the Snowcross out for many spins over that month… and I don’t think I will be able to live without them ever again.

On the ice, the nine carbide spikes on each shoes offered unprecedented grip, to a point where my brain actually had problems adjusting to it  (“lots of ice. Should be slippery. Very slippery, but… not slippery. Not at all… can’t compute.”)  Honestly, it took me about four or five runs over a week to understand that these would keep me going on the ice as fast as if I was on clear roads.

Ice-covered trails are part of my everyday commute

Icy trails are part of my everyday commute

In the snow, the aggressive cleat pattern also got me going pretty fast.  The integrated gate design, borrowed from the cross country ski world, also kept the snow out while keeping me warm and cozy.

Frankly, I am now in love with these shoes.  If you have to run on icy and snowy roads on your way to work, they offer amazing grip while keeping you warm.

Since I have to keep a minimum of critical sense, the low points of these shoes are:

  • the integrated gate is water resistant, but not waterproof.  It will keep you dry through snow, but not through puddle of slushy water.
  • the white lines are not reflective.  For shoes of that price, this would be expected.

 Last, but not least; with the carbide spikes*, make sure you do not walk on wooden floors.

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*The Salomon Snowcross CS share their soles with carbide spikes with the Salomon Spikecross. The latest are basically the same shoes as the Snowcross, but without the integrated gate. Therefore, a clever alternative to the Snowcross would be a pair of Spikecross combined with a set of short gators. The company Inov-8 also has two models with integrated carbide spikes (Oroc 280 and Oroc 340), which could also be used in conjunction with a short set of gators for similar results.

By |January 5th, 2015|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments
  • 2015

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?

Or

  • Results

2014 International Survey of Run Commuters

We’re pleased to release the findings of our first International Survey of Run Commuters!

The survey results can be viewed here, and the raw data is available for public use here. Please acknowledge The Run Commuter if using for a publication/blog/paper/etc.

If you would like to provide any feedback or have any questions, please email us at info@theruncommuter.com.

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

We received a total of 145 responses from 22 different countries.

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Responses
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Countries

Run commuters are more likely to be:

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) have been run commuting less than a year.

57% of run commuters run both ways in the same day.

When not commuting by running, the preferred method of transportation is the bicycle, with 55% choosing cycling over other forms of travel.

On average, respondents live 7.47 miles (12 km) away from their workplace.

The average run commute is between 3 – 7 miles (4.8 – 11.2 km).

93% of run commuters have run with a backpack at some time in the past, while 77% continue to do so regularly.

11 respondents run with laptops.

A majority of respondents keep hygiene items (72%), and an extra set of work clothes, including shoes, at the office (~65%).

More than two-thirds of run commuters have access to a shower at their office, but nearly the same amount say that they would still run if none were available.

Aside from running to work, nearly one-fifth of respondents use running to pick up groceries and run errands. 14% occasionally run to meet friends.

An equal number of respondents have run to the pub as have run to the library.

  • TNRC July 2014 - Featured Marcel

The New Run Commuters – July 2014

In this month’s edition of The New Run Commuters, we feature Marcel Beaudoin of Gatineau, Quebec, and Dell Wilson from Madison, Alabama. Both are current or former bike commuters who began run commuting to train for longer races, and they have great bits of advice to pass on to those thinking about giving run commuting a try.  

And, interestingly, both are Buff wearers. I guess we’ll have try one of those things out…

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Runner Basics

  • New Run Commuter Marcel Beaudoin

    New Run Commuter Marcel Beaudoin

    Name: Marcel Beaudoin

  • Age: 40
  • City/State: Gatineau, Quebec….Canada
  • Profession/Employer: Patent Examiner, Government of Canada
  • Number of years running: 3. Previously, I commuted to work on a bike in the summer. However, my bike got stolen from the bike locks at my office…it is a bit harder to steal the shoes from my office.
  • # of races you participate in a year: Three – 2 ½ marathons (Ottawa Race Weekend ½ Marathon, Canada Army Run ½ Marathon), and a Spartan Sprint)
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road. At 40, after 6 years in the military, plus another 5 years playing lunchtime soccer on a field that only Salvador Dali would consider flat, I do not want to punish my ankles much more.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I used to run with a backpack I found at home, but it was not what I would call stable. I just (Father’s Day) got a Deuter Race X from my wife, so I look forward to running with something with chest and waist straps to help in the stability.
  • Shoes: Saucony Viziglo (fall 2013). I’ll be honest, they are comfortable, but I also admit to buying them because they are OMGWTF visible. Slowly, but surely, I am getting my wife used to them so that I can buy the most incredibly bright and gaudy pair of running shoes I can find.
  • Clothing: Socks – Whatever socks I can find in my drawer; Shorts – Nike DriFit shorts. They are comfy, and are pretty good at not riding up between my thighs; Shirt – Whatever technical t-shirt with sleeves I can find. Sleeveless shirts get a lot of chafing around my neck and my armpits. I tried, once, using a normal t-shirt…my bleeding nipples were the first sign that I had made a mistake. The pain in the shower was simply confirmation that I had made a significant error.
  • Outerwear: As I have only been run commuting for about since May 2014, I have been lucky to have avoided really cold weather. That being said, I live in Canada, which has winter a fair amount of the year, so in the fall I plan on picking up a bunch of winter running gear.
  • Headgear: When I started running, I would just go with what little hair on my head I had. 3 pairs of shorted-out earphones later, I switched to baseball caps. That lasted a month, and then my wife said that my sweaty hats were disgusting, and that I had to find something else. I then got informed about Buffs (From Buff Canada) and have been a convert ever since. And I am totally not an addict, I can stop buying new patterns whenever I feel like it.
  • Lights: Running in the summer means not having to worry about lighting. However, the latitude I am at means that in the winter it will be getting dark at around 4pm, so I will have to look into a lighting system once I see how the street lighting is.
  • Hydration: Currently I have a belt pouch with 2 small water bottles. I may look into throwing a CamelBak hydration system into my Race X, but I don`t need to yet.

On Run Commuting

Marcel - Path

A multi-use path along Marcel’s route.

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I started run commuting for a couple of main reasons. With 2 small kids, going running after work meant either abandoning my wife for an hour or so immediately after supper, or heading out at about 9:30 after they have gone to bed and their stuff for the next day is prepared. In addition, I had signed up for a ½ marathon that took place at the end of May, so I needed to get some pavement behind me. Work has a shower freely available, and a personal cubicle means I can hang up my stuff to dry during the day. I can also leave sandals and other stuff at work, which lightens the load for my commute.

How often do you run commute?

I run to work 4 times a week and, due to after-school activities, can only run back 3 times. So, call it 3.5 run commutes a week. In the summer, when after school activities are no longer going on, 4 days a week.

How far is your commute?

It is about 5.5 km one way. It is pretty flat, with a total drop of only about 60 metres from the start to the end. Some mild hills in between, but it is overall downhill from home to work. Here is a typical run, as tracked by my Garmin FR220. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/524180326

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Typically I try to bring lunch to work. Either a bunch of sandwiches or something I can heat up at work. Occasionally, I will treat myself to a smoked meat sandwich or a fish and chips platter at work.

Marcel - Town

Downtown Gatineau

What do you like most about run commuting?

It is very peaceful. Running, for me, is fairly Zen. One foot in front of the other. No matter how bad my morning before work was, or how many coworkers I have to deal with, running always calms me down.

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

My run commuting inspiration, Nicolas Pedneault, recently joined The Run Commuter as a columnist. He runs about 11 or 12 km each way, pretty much year-round.

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

I take the bus to work, which is a nice way to catch up on podcasts or reading.

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

Don’t measure yourself against other people who are running to work. There will always be people who run farther to get to work, faster to get to work, have hillier hills or flatter flats. Just worry about yourself.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Oooo look, another new buff pattern.

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Runner Basics

  • Dell - Profile

    New Run Commuter Dell Wilson

    Name: Dell Wilson

  • Age: 50
  • City/State: Madison, AL
  • Profession/Employer: Software Architect @ Intergraph PP&M
  • Number of years running: 1
  • # of races you participate in a year: 1
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road, I currently have little experience with trail.

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Dell - Ready to go

Ready to head out.

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I’ve been a full-time, year-round bike commuter for the past 5 years and I self-identify as a cyclist primarily. Last November, the younger guys in my department challenged me to run 100 miles during the month and culminate with a half-marathon. Because we dress casually on Friday’s (don’t have to carry office clothes) and go out to eat (don’t have to carry lunch), that day became a perfect opportunity to gain additional mileage for the challenge. After the challenge was over, I continued it because I enjoy it and I learned that I can deal with harsher weather running than cycling, which helps to keep my fitness up during the winter.

How often do you run commute?

I bike commute Mon through Thu and run commute on Fri.

How far is your commute?

4.25 miles to work and 3.75 miles home.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I carry my lunch on the days I bike commute and buy lunch on the day I run commute.

Dell - Neighborhood Road

A shot from Dell’s route.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I feel a freedom because I can get around on my own power. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about cycling and, with running, you’re even free of the mechanics of the bicycle.

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

I’ve not met any other run commuters in my city. However, I live in a small city so that is not surprising.

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

Bicycle!

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

I give the exact same advice to those considering bike commuting. I see many people jump in thinking they’d start full time and then fall as soon as life intervenes to cause you to drive. Instead, start with one day per week and take the attitude that you are going to run (or ride) on that day no matter what comes along. You can plan activities that require you to drive on the other days. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you begin to look forward to that day more than any other and your hunger builds to add another day and then another. The key thing is to get in a groove and dare the world to push you out of it.

Anything else that you would like to include?

My department now has a new challenge to run the local marathon (Rocket City Marathon) in December. While I found working up to half-marathon quite easy, I expect this to be difficult. I’ll begin training in August and I’ll weave my run commute into my training plan.

By |July 18th, 2014|Categories: General, People|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments
  • Switch Vision H-Walls

Review: Switch Vision Prescription Glasses

If, like me, you have poor eyesight, you may have to run with prescription glasses. Running with spectacles that are not made for running quickly becomes annoying, as they start sliding down a sweaty nose. Luckily, good prescription glasses for runners do exist. Run-commuting adds some complexity to all of this. North of the 49th parallel, it is not uncommon to run in total darkness during winter months. Therefore, clear lens prescription glasses made for runners are required. Dark lens glasses are preferable for the rest of the year.  

Switch Vision H-Wall Sunglasses. Photo from http://www.switchvision.com

Switch Vision H-Wall Sunglasses. Photo from http://www.switchvision.com

Three years ago, I bought Switch Vision prescription glasses. They came with interchangeable lenses; one clear set and one darker set for sunny days. These are made of ballistic material, which means they can also be used as safety glasses. Switch Vision uses small magnets inserted in the frame and around the lenses to keep them firmly in place. In my opinion, this feature places Switch Vision in a category of their own in terms of sports glasses. Switch Vision glasses’ design is great for people that needs sports prescription glasses for dark and sunny days. However, I have a bit of a bad aftertaste with the durability of the H wall model I purchased. The exposed metal rusted out after only a few months. When that happened, I took them back to the store, where they were replaced. Just like the first one, however, the second pair showed signs of rust after only a few months. Therefore, I would recommend avoiding these particular Switch Vision frames that expose portions of the magnets – they tend to rust over time, as shown below. I would also avoid frames with a soft nose mount and choose one with a plastic one instead.

Switch Vision H-Walls

Switch Vision H-Walls, showing spots of rust on top of the frame

Finally, depending on the number of dealers in your area, these can be pretty expensive (myself, I paid $700 Cdn, which is an outrageous amount of money for any pair of glasses when I think about it). I could probably have bought 2 pairs of sport prescription glasses, 1 clear and 1 dark, for less money than that. I really like the Switch Vision magnetic system, but not enough to pay such a premium to get it again the next time around. Hopefully, prices will have come down to a more reasonable level. ********************* Characteristics of good run-commuting prescription glasses: -durable -interchangeable lenses -light -lenses held firmly in place -resistance to fogging (good luck finding that!)

By |June 24th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments
  • Pam W 03

The New Run Commuters – June 2014

What is the farthest you’ve ever run commuted? Personally, I’ve done about 15-16 miles or so round-trip. Pam Walker, from South Lyon, MI runs that distance to work in the morning… and then runs it again on the way home, for a round-trip total of 31.2 miles! Find out more about her and fellow midwestern runner, Anne Ellis, (who has also surpassed my farthest run commute) in this month’s edition of The New Run Commuters.

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Runner Basics

Pam Walker running the Run Through Hell race

Pam Walker running the Run Through Hell race

  • Name: Pam Walker
  • Age: 46
  • City/State: South Lyon, MI
  • Profession/Employer: Clinical Pharmacist (Emergency Medicine)
  • Number of years running: 8 years
  • # of races you participate in a year: 8-12, but cutting back this year to focus on ultramarathons
  • Do you prefer road or trail? 50/50, I like to have the balance. Trails are nice and easy on the leg and tend to have more hills for me to work harder on. The road (or rather paved Rails-to-Trails) gives me a more flat training environment and it’s easier to focus on form changes with the bonus of a safer environment being separated from vehicular traffic.

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I started run-muting this past October since I needed to get in more training miles (training for my first 50 miler – JFK in November. I didn’t want to cut into time at home with my husband. He’s already been more than patient with my time out running. I found a shower facility at work so I just had to plan out the proper route to work and bring in needed clothes, food, etc., on the Mondays since I drive in on that day. I run 80% dirt roads (many rolling hills) into my job at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor.

Pam W 02

Pam’s route to work

How often do you run commute?

Twice a week – both round trips.

How far is your commute?

15.6 miles one way on some really beautiful back roads.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack and bring everything in on Monday for the full week. It’s far easier to make sure that I have healthy foods to ensure good recovery for the next run. I am big on using Garden of Life’s Raw Meal post-am run to cover all my BCAAs, protein and some glucose needs and that is easy to just leave a tub of it at work. I will take essential amino acids before I set back out to run home. Since I feel that this type of training can increase the inflammatory process I keep up on my Omega 3’s capsules and I do have issues with iron deficiency, so I have to take iron tablets to stay on top of that. Yeah, typical pharmacists popping pills, nutritional supplements that is ;)

What do you like most about run commuting?

I enjoy seeing the sun rise and/or set on my runs. It’s beautiful running on the rolling dirt roads, listening to the birds and frogs in the early morning. It’s interesting because I am far from a morning person but this run in helps prepare me for work and those running endorphins help with my needed creativity for certain projects that I may be working on.I love this run for all the farms and horses out and about, great way to leave the work day behind.

Pam W 03

Running through the countryside

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

No, I wish I could find someone doing the same thing, especially if there was a way for our paths to cross and run a section together. But I have talked some friends into running a few miles with me after work.

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

Drive my car but I am looking for ways to “inherit” my husband’s mountain bike and add that in for another 1-2 days of commuting.

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

Use The Run Commuter page to get inspired and learn how to make it happen. I got started because I was inspired by how easy they made it all sound. Then I searched out a safe route and tested it out with my car to see how busy the road traffic might be and to make sure that I wouldn’t be too isolated. Planning, planning, and more planning. Let your friends and family know what you are doing, often times I have friends keeping their eyes open for me and it’s always nice to have them wave or shout out to me on my run-mute and its keeps me more motivated and potentially safer. In fact, I am thinking about getting a Spot Satellite Messenger to let my family and friends track where I am and use it to text when I am done or need help. Keep a foam roller in your office or cube, if possible, and see about finding a sports massage therapist if you don’t already. Have a backup plan, mine is bribery (dinner out) if I have to bail and get picked up. Really, if you put your mind to it and work up to the distance following aerobic heart rate training, it is not only easy but makes you a more content person.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Keep in mind the road conditions and your fellow cyclists and drivers. I did stop with my run-muting during this crazy winter (Jan – Mar) because of all the snow and ice on the roads. Not only do I worry about my own safety, but I do not want to create unsafe conditions for everyone else. Also, use bug spray and keep your cellphone dry (learned from a bad experience.)

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Anne Ellis

    Anne E 01

    New Run Commuter Anne Ellis

  • Age: 42
  • City/State: Chicago, IL
  • Profession/Employer: Program Manager at a large urban church
  • Number of years running: 18
  • # of races you participate in a year: 4-6 in the past 5 years or so, didn’t really race much before then
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I love both. When I started running it was mostly on trails (rural Massachusetts) and I still run on them whenever I can. I love the varied terrain (makes my run feel like play) and being in nature. But being in the city I’ve had to embrace road running. I like running through the different neighborhoods, I like my city and I like watching people. I think it would be hard to run on roads if I lived someplace less interesting. (Even now, I run off pavement as much as possible.)

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (1.0) It is not water- or sweat-proof, so I put my important items in a large Ziploc bag before putting them in the back compartment, and my phone in a smaller Ziploc bag in front. I bring in my clothes and food the day before, and leave behind anything I don’t absolutely need overnight.
  • Shoes: Brooks Ghost
  • Clothing: Race shirts and Road Runner Sports compression shorts or tights
  • Outerwear: My favorite lightweight piece is a Mountain Hardware windbreaker, many years old now. Otherwise, I wear a mix of layers. I have a great cold weather running hoodie that I got from a race and I ran in that all winter. I could use something really waterproof, maybe next winter I’ll splurge. Also, as I get older I’m having more trouble with my hands getting cold and I need to get more running gloves, even for summer – it gets windy along the lake. Or, maybe I’ll just remember to wear the ones I have.
  • Headgear: Turtle Fur gaiters for when it’s really cold or bandanas when it’s just windy (I don’t like my neck to be cold). I have a beanie from another race and a Mizuno beanie for colder weather, and then I wear Brooks running hats when I need shade.
  • Lights: Not needed, I don’t run in the dark.
  • Hydration: I have a UD bladder that fits my race vest for really long runs but mostly I use 8 or 10 oz. Fuelbelt flasks in the front pockets of my vest – I like the way they fit against my chest. The bigger bottles that came with the vest are too unwieldy.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I was training for my first marathon (2010) and needed a way to get the miles in! I commuted 1-2 times a week but stopped once the marathon was over. I was using a small backpack that I had jury-rigged with safety pins and it wasn’t very comfortable. Then last year when I decided to do a marathon again I splurged on the UD race vest and that made a huge difference. I also had a second child in the meantime and didn’t want to take weekend time away from the family for the long run, so I decided to incorporate that into my run commuting. Towards the end of my marathon training last year I was running in twice a week and loving how I felt with the higher weekly mileage, so I decided to continue with run commuting through the winter. I had to take a break for two months due to injury but have been back at it for a couple of months now.

Anne E 02

A view from Anne’s run commute

How often do you run commute?

Right now, 2-3 times a week. In the winter I’ll probably drop back to 1-2 times a week.

How far is your commute?

At a minimum it’s 6 miles. I like to make it 7 or 8, and I also use it as my long run, so have done up to 18. I have a semi-flexible schedule and work several evenings a month so can make my commute serve that purpose when I need to.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Usually I pack a lunch (and snacks!) in the day before along with my clothes. At the end of the each week I look ahead at the next one and figure out when I’ll need to bring in clothing and food (and towels).

What do you like most about run commuting?

I like having the extended quiet time to myself, while still being out and about. I also like having a purpose to my run and the idea that I am getting myself where I need to go. And having the extra time though mostly I’ve filled that up with new athletic pursuits.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work? (If so, tell us a bit about them)

No. Very occasionally I’ve seen people running (usually on the way home) that look like they might be run commuting, but haven’t managed to get up close enough to them in time to make sure.

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

Public transportation. That’s the only thing I miss with run commuting, the train is my reading time. On the other hand, running is my only opportunity to listen to albums in their entirety.

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

Anne E 03

Anne’s office setup

Make lists of what you’re going to need to bring in (or leave behind) and use them. I’ve forgotten a few things from time to time, usually not serious, but a couple of weeks ago I forgot to bring in pants. I needed to look semi-professional that day, otherwise I would have just stayed in my running kit all day, so I ended up waiting until the Columbia store opened and getting a new skirt. Luckily there are plenty of shopping opportunities where I work. I do plan to bring in a backup outfit to leave behind for the future, which would also give me more flexibility in deciding to run in or not.

Anything else that you would like to include?

I leave a cleanup kit at work. When I first started I relied on baby wipes and washcloths to get clean, but now we have lockers and showers at work which is nice, especially as I can go straight down to the basement and get cleaned up before anyone sees me, other than the security guards.

 

By |June 16th, 2014|Categories: General, People|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment
  • Henty Featured Image

Review: Henty Wingman Backpack

Henty takes a simple method of storing and transporting clothing to an entirely different level with their Wingman Backpack.

This unique, smart bag transforms a heavy-duty garment carrier into a securely rolled-up backpack, making it a mobile gear transportation system for runners, cyclists, and walkers alike.

Though a bit expensive, cyclists have sworn by the messenger-style Wingman for years. Listening to customer feedback, Henty decided to add backpack straps to make the bag more appealing to cyclists who preferred that setup to carry their bags. With that simple modification, the Wingman Backpack opened up to the running market. I ran with it multiple times over several weeks under varying conditions to see how it performed. Here are the results.

Test Scenario 1: Suit coats and a laptop

I chose to test the Henty Wingman Backpack out on the run commute home, so I dressed in my normal business casual attire, packed up my lunch and gear, then headed to the train station.

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

The Wingman Backpack consists of two pieces – the garment bag, and the duffel. The garment bag seems like it is full of secret pouches, velcro attachments, straps, buckles and zippers. One pouch even contains an integrated raincover!

Garment Bag Opened

Garment Bag Opened

One of the zippers reveals this quick-access area, complete with a detachable passport-style organizer. This is a great feature if you are a run commuter who combines running and transit (easy access to bus/train pass).

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Overall, there is a lot of space in this pack. The duffel is extremely durable yet simple, with no extra pockets or gadgets within. It held everything I needed to pack into it and had remaining space left over. The duffel bag buckles inside the empty, center space of the rolled-up unit. 

Looking down into the WIngman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

Looking down into the Wingman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

The hanger system is awesome, consisting of a single, high-grade plastic hanger that pivots to allow you to pack the curved “hanger part” away when not being used. Henty recommends one suit jacket and one shirt, or three shirts as the maximum load for the garment bag. 

The pack felt different when I donned it, but not in a bad way. I was unused to wearing a cylindrical-shaped backpack, and the feel of it against my back was unusual and tight, but out of the way of my swinging arms. It felt great while walking, though when I started to run, I could feel the effect of the change in center of gravity away from my back due to the extra weight of the suit coats and laptop. The laptop also altered the fit against my back, making the contact width wider than it would have been without a laptop. 

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

The laptop protective sleeve is fantastic and kept sweat out like a champ. Around mile three, the shoulder straps started chafing under my arms a bit, but not terribly bad. I tried it again a few days later under the same conditions and had the same results. It works well for shorter distances under this configuration.

Also, the suit coats looked great when I pulled them out after arriving at home. 

Ideal Distance (no laptop, no suit(s), normal clothes): 1 – 3 miles

Test Scenario 2: Regular clothes, no laptop, normal daily items

For the second test, I again took the train to work dressed in my normal business casual attire, and packed my lunch and running clothes in the duffel. At the end of the day, I hung the clothes on the hanger, packed away my things, cinched everything up, and headed out.

Without the laptop, the bag fit much better. It rested on my back in between my shoulder blades and maintained body contact down to my lower back. And, since it was a bit lighter this time without the suit coats and laptop, the pack’s center of gravity changed to a more normal location.

On the run, I had to occasionally adjust the straps to keep the pack in place. That is a fairly common thing to have to do, and why we recommend choosing a running backpack with easily adjustable straps for on-the-fly cinching.  

Unlike a regular pack, the Henty Wingman Backpack did not affect my arm swing, and it was a comfortable run for the entire 5.2 miles back to the train station. 

Henty - Test 02 Arrival.jpg

The end of a my run commute home with the Wingman Backpack

I did not use the sternum strap very frequently, however, as it is a bit too short. I have a small chest, and it was tight on me. It could probably use another 5 inches of length, but the pack fit securely enough without using it all.  

The only other thing I could see that might affect runners with a different body shape than mine is how far it extends down beyond the lower back. It might rub if the runner has a larger backside. With a standard cargo load, the Henty Wingman works well for medium distances.

Ideal Distance (no laptop, normal clothes): 3 – 6 miles

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Overall, it is extremely well-made, durable, and works pretty well for running. It would be ideal for run commuters who bring a suit or two in on Monday, and bring it back home on Friday. I would forgo carrying a laptop, as it will change the fit a bit too much for running. It’s also perfect for those run commuters who cycle in on Monday morning with clothes for a few days, and run home and to work until they need to change out clothing or supplies.

The cool part about the Wingman Backpack for me is that it combines two things that I normally use – a clothing carrier (Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15) AND a backpack (Osprey Manta 20) – into one easy-to-use system.

As always please try on a running pack to ensure that it fits your body properly and comfortably before you commit to it.

Click here for Henty’s US Website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.