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

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

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

Salt-crusted hats are where it’s at.

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

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

  1. Brim too long

  2. Dome too high

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclaimer

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

Save the nips: Red11 Sport anti-chafe salve review

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of Feb. 2017, Red11 is no longer available for purchase. A good replacement is Body Glide.

I, like so many, have since my first tentative steps as a runner dreaded this happening to me. During an out-and-back segment of my first ultra, 24-ish miles into a grueling 50K, a runner in the opposite direction had upon his face not fatigue but wide-eyed fear mingled with agony. I understood why. Upon his white shirt: twin red streams trailing toward his waistband. And he had six more miles to go.

Bloody nipples. Nipple chafe (clinically: nipple fissures). Hell, chafe in general, as M. Suzette writes, in any of the body’s geography. Every runner harbors this terror in the heart and the skin above it, and holds forth numerous methods of mitigation: adhesive bandages; sport tape; petroleum jelly. But I give you today Red11 Sport, an anti-chafe agent unlike others I have known, a salve to save your nipples and nethers from being churned to hamburger when you run.
IMG_8432

The Run Commuter team has been using Red11 Sport for several months now, putting it on our delicate tissues, then putting this through the wringer. My first impression was a chuckle for its clever, snarky name. (Think about my description above of the afflicted gent.) Red11 Sport is a New York City-based newcomer, cheeky in its marketing and seems so in its company culture, judging by our correspondence with them. That is a good beginning to recommend it to runners: they’re like us.

But they can get away with it because the product works, and works extremely well. Red11 Sport is composed of shea butter (main ingredient), vitamin E, coconut, mineral wax and peppermint. In fact, the peppermint scent was among the first things we noticed, as soon as we popped the tin open. It’s present but not strong, just enough to notice. You won’t feel it on your skin, and don’t worry that your areolas will smell like candy canes: they won’t.

Red11 Sport feels to the touch like a lip balm: a bit waxy, smooth, but spreadable. In fact, one of our contributors, Nic, has used it just so when he forgot his lip balm at home. Rub some on the end of a finger; rub the finger on your nipple(s); go running: simple. Both sizes come in tins small enough to fit in a pocket.

Here’s the meat of this review: it works. This tiny tin of chafe-halting nectar works so much better than anything I have found. I’ll explain by way of comparison, then tout Red11 Sport’s merits.

IMAG1466The primary anti-chafe methods, anecdotally and from experience, are bandages/sport tape, petroleum jelly and BodyGlide. The latter will likely be Red11 Sport’s main competitor. Bandages/sport tape will protect nipples from being rubbed raw, but sweating will dislodge them. That’s been my experience with bandages, anyway, though sport tape usually stays put. Unfortunately, you can’t put them in your armpits, butt crack, upper thighs, and balls, all areas prone to chafe.

Petroleum jelly always works but it stains shirts, leaving competitors and onlookers to wonder why you’re lactating. I slathered it on my thighs mid-race in the 2011 Detroit Marathon, experiencing some chafe then, and it again worked but my shorts clung to it, riding waaaaay up into the nethers. And my shorts are short enough already; there’s little room to travel.

I’ve never been a fan of BodyGlide. It wears off too quickly. I’ve tried it, tried it again to be certain, but it seems to slough off maybe 5-10 miles into a long run or race. I’ve seen teammates and competitors in longer ultras reapply it periodically, which I never had to do with petroleum jelly. It always leaves me disappointed and raw.
IMAG1468Red11 Sport came to us just before the crush of southern summer. Most of my use has been on run commutes, but I’ve used this precious goo on shorter and moderate runs, about 5-10 miles, and several times on long efforts, up to and past 20 miles. No issues. No need to reapply. And nary a hint of chafe! Nor has there been any stain or mark on my shirts, any time that I have applied Red11 Sport. That is hugely important. Stains in no way alter the function of tech shirts but it is embarrassing and ruins some very cool race shirts.

It also has proved effective with irritation from heart rate monitors. Hall has used applied it in that way and had none of his usual chafing. We passed it along to a female friend who was experiencing significant chafe from her monitor whenever she ran. She says, “I ran twice last week with the heart rate monitor strap and used your special cream. I was free of all irritation!”

Here’s what one of our contributors, Nic, had to say:

“I have used the Red11 for about 150 km since I received it, and it is great. Seriously, it is the best anti-chaffing stuff I ever used (I got absolutely no chafing at all last week, and I ran a total of 114 km). My only comment would be to replace “nipple protection” on the container by something more gender neutral, but beside that, I liked the product and the format of the container. And I even used it as lip balm this morning since I could not find my usual one!IMG_8431

“I wore my chafing shorts for a 15 km interval training/run commute. (These shorts are very old, and I always have problems with them, even with Vaseline and Nok). So I decided to wear them, over a generous coating of Red11. And I am glad to report … nothing! Nothing at all! Baby skin throughout. I am very, VERY impressed.”

Heed Nic’s suggestion to alter the “nipple protection” labeling on the tins. That’s how Red11 Sport is primarily marketing the product — indeed, that is the top-tier trouble zone — but I’ve used it everywhere, as Nic has. Thoroughly saturated by sweat in 95-degree heat and maximum humidity after 18 miles: I felt nothing in any of the typical problem spots. If you see Red11 Sport at your running store, snap some up. Your nipples/genitals/miscellaneous, and anyone who has to see them, will thank you.

DISCLOSURE: Red11 Sport provided gratis samples for our review.

By | 2017-02-24T10:03:50+00:00 August 6th, 2014|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

Rubbed the Wrong Way: Warm Weather Chafing

As the weather warms, the coverage we look for in running clothes drops off dramatically. It seems so freeing to run with as little on as possible. I will be faster! I’m like a wild animal! It’s not until I get home and survey the damage from skin rubbing on skin or cloth that I realize it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Chafing! Miles and miles of it. Burning, stinging, oozing, and bleeding in some very sensitive regions of my body. Add a run commuter backpack to the mix and there is bound to be chafing in areas of which you’d never thought.

We put together a list of problem areas and anti-chafing solutions, as well as a some additional fixes you can make, to keep your run commute as smooth and irritation-free as possible.

Running Form

Running with a backpack requires some adjustment. Even if you haven’t paid much attention to your form before, you will immediately recognize if adjustments to your stride or posture need to be made. Runner’s World recently reposted one of the best articles on form that I have ever read. It was written in 2005, and there have certainly been lots of others since, but not many with advice that you can so easily apply on your own.

Your pack, with sternum and waist straps buckled and cinched, will normally pull your shoulders back and straighten your posture while you run. Run with strides too far apart under this setup however, and no matter how well your pack fits, it will rub somewhere. Practice running with good form and you will not only reduce the likelihood of backpack chafe, you’ll also find yourself to be a more effective runner without the pack.

Chafing Problem Areas

Under arms: Device cases and backpack straps are the worst offenders here. To borrow from a recent very popular animated film in which the main character suffers from complex icy architecture shooting from her fingers unsolicited, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” A layer of clothing between you and the offending strap and a good bit of lube is the only way to prevent this if running with these items is desired or required. For these hot summer months, try an ultra-lightweight moisture wicking shirt. Take your pack and device case with you to the store to try on new running clothes. That way you can see if they fit comfortably together and ensure that your trouble spots are covered.

Sports bra chafe

Sports bra chafe

Shoulders, Lower Back and Stomach: These are all from backpack straps. We here at TRC are of at least two different schools of thought on this one. Josh likes his straps tight; I like mine kinda loose. Again, look at your form and your pack and make adjustments on the fly. If your pack is rubbing a hole in your back, it is moving around. If it is moving around, either you are bouncing or wasting tons of energy with side-to-side motion, or your pack it too loose, or possibly both.

Here is Josh’s advice to a new run commuter suffering from backpack-related chafing:

‘First of all, cinch everything down like crazy. In order, tighten your waist strap, then shoulder straps, then sternum strap… All of these can be adjusted on the run as well. Usually, I readjust everything once I’ve been running for a few minutes.

Wear polyester-based shirts; either 100% poly, or at a minimum, a 50/50 poly/cotton blend. After you start sweating, these types of shirts tend to stick to your skin better than cotton, and provide a slippery, non-irritating surface for your pack to slide over if it is loose.’

Nipples: Chafed nipples are mostly commonly a problem for men, but women can get them too from wearing an ill-fitting or poorly supporting bra, but that may need to be addressed in a later post. The cause is the same though: bouncing. Noticing a theme here? Some guys stick Band-Aids over their nips, others use Vaseline or an anti-chafe product, such as Red11Sport. And then, some just deal with it until their nipples become less sensitive. One or two good long, sweaty runs will result in painfully raw, possibly bleeding, nipples. Thankfully they heal quickly and will be tougher and less likely to chafe again. As long you keep running regularly, they will stay that way. As a mother who has breastfed two children, I have to say that this last option is probably the easiest in the long run if you can handle it.

Inner thighs: I am a normal-sized human being, and my thighs touch. They did when I was a little girl, and they will until the day I die, or, God-forbid, only have one leg. This is arguably the most common spot for chafing on a woman. Do an internet search on chafing (like I did for this post) and most of what comes up are blog posts from women whose thighs touch and means by which they’ve tried to prevent it. You must do one or both of two things: cover them or lube them.

Thigh chafe. That shower is gonna hurt...

Thigh chafe. That shower is gonna hurt…

“I feel like such a sexy beast standing at the trailhead lubing up my thighs before a run,” said no one ever. But no one ever managed a sexy walk while suffering from inner thigh chafe either. Compression-style gear is tight-fitting, like bike shorts without the chamois, and acts like a second skin, so all the friction will be on it and not your sensitive bits. However if heading out of doors wearing what feels

[looks] like sausage casing doesn’t appeal to you, try a loose, lightweight layer on top. You may also notice that shortening your stride length helps keep your shorts down on/between your legs. I don’t know who told running clothes manufactures that everyone likes (and can wear) short shorts for running. Some companies are getting better about making slightly longer lengths, but I for one do not want very short or very tight. Rubbing a friction reducing product on the areas that touch will not only help keep your thigh skin from rubbing off, but also your shorts from riding up, and you from walking like a monkey for a couple of days.

Anti-Chafe Solutions

Try out different kinds of anti-friction products. You can often buy small/trial sizes of different kinds to help you find one you like. When you do find one that works, buy several so you’re never stuck without it.

A few of our lubricants on display. L to R - Aquaphor (generic, store-brand), Body Glide, Vaseline.

A few of our lubricants on display. L to R – Aquaphor (generic, store-brand), Body Glide, Vaseline.

Aquaphor and Vaseline are my favorite products because they have so many uses. They are also affordable and easy to find. Before I head out on a run, I smear it on my lips, under the band of my sports bra and shorts, and on my thighs. If, despite all my preventative measures, I still get a raw spot, Aquaphor is very soothing as well.

Here are some products we like, and where to find them:

On-the-Run Chafing Emergencies

I may scandalize or otherwise shock you here, but picture this: you’re headed home from work. It’s been a fine day, relatively normal, but you are eagerly anticipating leaving on vacation on Friday. It is only Tuesday, but you have much on your mind- saltwater fishing, that chef that’s going to come cook an amazing dinner for y’all, which books are you going to read, how many pairs of running shoes can bring without your partner mocking you…Anyway, the run home will be great for thinking about those things.

It’s pretty hot, and you are getting ridiculously sweaty, because in this story you are me and I sweat. A lot. Suddenly, a twinge of something, a tiny prick of stinging pain rouses you from your pleasant thoughts. You realize you forgot to put on your anti-chafing stuff! DAMMMMMITTTT! Pleasant thoughts instantly change to – cute new bathing suit is ruined, ocean water is going to burn like acid, how am I going to look amazing wearing shorts and walking like someone who is just getting used to standing upright? If you can get over how gross this idea is, you still can. Raise your hand up to your mouth and spit a big glob of saliva on it, cough something up if you have to. Then rub it on the spot that’s starting to chafe (in this story, your thighs, but I’ve used it under my arms, my bra band, and my pack shoulder straps too – don’t judge), and every time it dries out, do it again until you get home. Disgusting? Yes, absolutely, but it’s better than the alternative in my book.

So, there it is. I hope these tips and ideas will get you through a long, hot summer of run commuting without losing too much skin. I’d love to hear how you manage chafing and your high friction areas too.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Drying soggy A.M. gear for the P.M. commute home

Reader and new run commuter Eric asks a very good question:

[M]ight you add where you store your wet running clothes during the day? I mean, they have to get dry before the pm commute, right?”

Technically, no: they do not have to dry before the return home. I will impinge on no person’s prerogative to ball up sweat-soaked clothing in an IKEA bag, shove it in a filing cabinet, then don the clammy bundle eight hours later to endure a mildew-scented run home. No! Such freedoms are what made America great.

Not my cup of tea, though. While I will neither impinge upon nor impugn the right so stated above, I will talk wrinkle my nose before turning it up, and then talk trash. C’mon: gross. So I take great care to dry everything out before my p.m. run, and do so in as clandestine a manner as possible. Surprisingly, no one here has ever asked me how I dry my clothes. They must assume I am one of two things: awesome or disgusting. Perhaps both. Regardless, should they step behind my desk, they would see this beneath it:

Sub-rosa sub-desk drying

My clothing is drying, or a homeless man was Raptured.

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By | 2016-10-22T20:26:50+00:00 January 31st, 2012|Categories: How To|Tags: , , , |10 Comments

Getting Started – Part 5: From Sweaty to Office Ready

We have enjoyed great interest and discussion since we began this endeavor, but we truly knew we were going somewhere when we got our first public criticism. Rather, I should say our first public concern: hygiene; more specifically, co-workers’ exposure to our assuredly horrendous hygiene. One Reddit reader voiced it thus:

“Anyone who would run commute to their office without showering before they begin work is an inconsiderate ass hole. You think your coworkers want to smell your sweaty crotch all day long? … Yeah, that’s usually the kind of attitude ‘that guy’ has about his poor hygiene.”

First off, asshole is one word. More over: I am about the sweatiest runner you could find; in anything over 70 degrees, you are likely to hear my shoes squish as my mileage climbs into the teens; yet I am also very finicky about my grooming, and I assure you, dear readers, no co-worker nor compatriot has ever had a whiff of my tender bits. I will explain how you can run to work, even in the height of Atlanta’s sweltering summer months (all eight of them), yet still achieve a rosy glow and pleasing scent around the office.

NOTE: Some will certainly say this is gender biased toward men, for whom hasty grooming might be considered easier. As with bicycling, we have heard concerns from ladies of their hair becoming a fright. I let my tumbleweed hair grow 14 months, 11 of them in 2011. I hear you on the hair; I will give the best advice I can. If any female run commuters have ought advice to add, fire away!

 1. Start your day with a shower
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; showering is a crucial aspect of your morning ritual, too, especially if you seek to stanch the lurking workplace crotch-scent some purport to fear. Ready as you normally do. Gentlemen, shave what you want or must. Put on deodorant and lotion. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Stand up straight. Smile.

As my hair increased in volume (better measured thus than in length, curly as it is), especially in humid summer, I wore a hat. I hate wearing hats but I must admit this helped. My hair was sweaty but it remained tangle-free. (It also reduced my wind resistance.)

2. Planning is everything: gather your goods
Before you set out from home, know what you need for the day, and know that you have it. I typically gather everything on our bed, then view my accrued items as I mentally dress myself and plot my day’s events: socks; underpants; trousers; undershirt; shirt; belt; sweater (December and January); lunch box; BlackBerry; notebook; camera; and so forth. Then go over it again as you pack your bag.

This is the most crucial part of the process. I have several times neglected to bring a belt, or socks, and a few times my lunch. The belt is the only thing that aggravates me. You will find it difficult to maintain a professional demeanor when you are manually holding up your pants.

Stoke 19 Contents - Smaller


3. Leave or keep at the office whatever you are able
Just as there is little need to daily haul dress shoes to and from work (I keep two pairs of shoes under my desk: black oxfords and saddle oxfords), it is not always necessary to pack your dress clothes in and out. It will lighten your load, and also leave you with room enough to cart home, say, a 5-pound box of strawberries you obtained from the fruit vendor outside your office, which you can then in turn present to your sweetheart. (This happened.)

On a day I bicycle to work, I might bring several clean pairs of pants and shirts along. I always wear undershirts, so I can get two wears out of each shirt, and about as many from the pants. I keep most of my ties at work. Find an empty drawer in your desk, a filing cabinet, or some abandoned cubicle; use it like a dresser drawer.

I could really use some more blue or purple shirts.

(Again, ladies, I am sorry: this is gentleman-specific advice. Your ways are truly a mystery to me and I have little idea how to transport dresses or wrinkle-sensitive garments, or outfit-specific shoes. Perhaps plan an outfit well in advance, specifically for run commute days; haul those in.)

NOTE: I keep two pairs of emergency socks at the office. I have learned over the last year or so that I am most likely to forget socks, if I forget anything. Black, gray, or zany argyle are my choices.

4. Shower if one is available; if not, take a bird bath
This is the crucial step toward avoiding stink. I now employ the term “bird bath” rather than “whore’s bath,” as the latter earned some quizzical looks from a few co-workers. Turns out I hadn’t offended them in explaining my methods; they thought I had said “horror bath” (syllables and consonants are subject to wide interpretation in Georgia), but I still wish to avoid giving offense, in sense and scents.

You can easily obtain everything you need for a quick clean-up: soap; deodorant; shampoo; comb; baby wipes; foot powder; lotion. Look in the travel/sample section of your favorite grocery or department store. Check, too, for a little bag in which to keep them; stash that in your filing-turned-dresser drawer.

All signs point to spring-time freshness.

Except in the sweatiest of months, I typically eschew the full-on sink bathing experience, instead washing my face, neck, and behind my ears (the salt really gathers there), and wetting and resetting my hair. I do these in the single-occupant, lockable restroom down the hall; however, I have at times tended to superficial clean-up in shared-access restrooms. My curly (wavy when short) hair pretty much takes care of itself. Most days, typically fall through spring, I simply tend to salt- and scent-sensitive areas with baby wipes. After a great deal of field testing, I find Huggies wipes to be supreme.

Put it all together, and you can go from something like this:


… to something like this:

If you can take a better self-portrait of a 6’4″ man when the tallest object in your office is 4 feet tall, I would like to hear how.

(No need for you to look surly, though, and I am very peppy; however, Josh mandated that we never smile, and I abide by it.)

5. Practice makes perfect
When changing your commute to bike or foot, you should one weekend plot and time your route to work. Too, I encourage you to practice readying after returning home from a weekend run. This will give you a sense of how long it might take you, what items you will need in order to complete your transformation, and the general process through which specifically you must go; you will be able to tailor this advice to your routine.

6. If you lack a private office, share a work space, or lack storage
Many offices have drop ceilings. Find a remote panel, possibly in a lockable bathroom or above a stall, perhaps even in a closet, and stash your kit up there. I have done this and it works. I got the idea from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

7. If you remain concerned about stinking:

 

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:51+00:00 December 29th, 2011|Categories: How To, BecomingARunCommuter|Tags: , , , , , |28 Comments

Review: Nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs

As you can see from some of our previous posts, it’s hot down here.  And while beer occasionally does the trick, I need something to use on a more regular basis after finishing my sweltering summer runs.

I picked up a tube of Citrus Fruit flavored Nuun from Big Peach Running Co. in Decatur about a month ago and decided to give it a try.

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By | 2016-10-22T20:26:59+00:00 July 19th, 2011|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Our first Run Commuter Summit

We gathered in Atlanta last week to host our very first Run Commuter Summit, discussing the perils and peaks associated with this noble activity.

It actually was just the three of us — Josh, Sophie, Kyle — drinking beers at Mellow Mushroom and talking shop. We did meet Terry the Psychic, though, who was there to read palms and tarot cards. Terry was kind enough to snap a photo of us, on the condition that we not “call her a dude.” (Wednesday also has trivia hosted by Ruby Redd, a drag queen. A few errant participants made that mistake of Terry not long after.)

Run Commuter Summit

From left: Sophie; Josh; Kyle. Also the descending order of personal condition and appearance.

The appellation “Hotlanta” is as dead as Marley, generally used by tourists whose primary information on Atlanta comes from articles on the 1996 Olympics, and our ginormous airport; however, there was no denying it was hot last week in Atlanta. How hot, you ask? (more…)

By | 2016-10-22T20:27:00+00:00 July 18th, 2011|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Hot Running: Heat, Humidity and Dew Point

There is a great article in Running Times this month called It’s Not the Heat, Nor the Humidity.  You can’t read it online, but the ladies over at The Bitchy Runners have summarized it and created a replica of the dew point chart that you should check out.

I incorporate race training into my run commute.  It’s not that exciting, but it can be pretty intense based on which route I am running at the time (hills vs. flat).   Sometimes during the summer, it REALLY sucks the life out of me; almost to the point where I am worthless the rest of the day.  I always chalked it up to humidity, but after reading the RT article, I realized that what I should really be keeping an eye on is the dreaded dew point. (more…)

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