The New Run Commuters – March 2018

This month’s New Run Commuter is David Roland, from our headquarters city of Atlanta, Georgia. I had the pleasure of meeting David in person last week, and we spoke not only about how he became a run commuter, but also of Atlanta’s many, many distracted drivers and the dangerous conditions they create for vulnerable users, such as pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. David’s advice for staying safe? Be mindful of cars turning at intersections – they often don’t see people in the crosswalks – and make sure you are as visible as possible.

Read more about David’s story below and if you are interested in being the next run commuter featured on TRC, please fill out the contact form at the end of the post.

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Runner Basics

  • Name:  David Roland

  • Age:  35

  • City/State: Atlanta, GA

  • Profession/Employer: Web Developer | Software Engineer

  • Number of years running: 5

  • # of races you participate in a year: 1 – 3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? I like both, the good thing about running on trails is that you don’t have to look for cars.

David Roland

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Gregory Miwok 18. I carry work clothes, breakfast and some extra running clothes. I think 18 is a good size for my needs, because if I need to also carry shoes or lunch, I can.

  • Shoes: Nike Downshifter 5, though I don’t recommend them for running everyday.

  • Clothing: Nike running shorts and any t-shirt (preferably a t-shirt from a running race or a dri-fit one). I also wear a Buff headband on my neck when it is a bit chilly.

  • Outerwear: During winter, I use a thick windblocker: New Balance Men’s Windblocker Running 1/2 Zip, and New Balance running tights/pants.

  • Headgear: Nike Featherlight Dri-Fit hat. I prefer to run without it, but when it is raining or too sunny, I use it. Also Rudy Project Rydon glasses.

  • Lights: LED Slap Armband – sometimes I use it on my arm, and sometimes I hook it on the back of my backpack. Usually I run home during daylight, so I don’t use it that often.

  • Hydration: None. My commute is not very far, so I drink water before and after.

Atlanta traffic from above

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

After watching the movie McFarland, USA, I thought I should try it someday.

I’ve been a bike commuter since 2013. This winter I started having many flat tires on my bike, since I was commuting on a single speed with thin tires. I didn’t carry any gear to fix them, so I started running back home. After 3 or 4 flats, I started run commuting back and forth and leaving the bike at home.

How often do you run commute?

Almost every day, though I don’t want to overdo it, because I’m afraid of hurting my knees long-term.

How far is your commute?

3 miles (5 km) each way, very hilly.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I buy lunch at the office cafeteria – usually a salad with some protein.

What do you like most about run commuting?

The most important reason for me is that I hate being stuck in traffic, that’s why I choose running or biking over taking a car or bus. I love the feeling of waking up and thinking “Nice, I will go running”, instead of “Uff, I need to go to the office” :D

Also, it is more fun, better for physical and mental health, better for the environment, and cheaper.

 

Gregory Miwok 18 with contents

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

After I started run commuting I was googling more about it and I found this website. Since the creator is also from Atlanta, I messaged him and we met.

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

Sometimes I bike (10-15 min), or else I take the bus (35 min), while running takes me 25 min.

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

I read this before and I think it’s great advice: you don’t have to run everyday or both ways, or even all the way (mix it with public transit or driving), just do what you can. You can also try the route over the weekend to see how you feel and learn what it is like.

Also, try to find where you can shower. Maybe there is a gym close by, or even showers in your building – ask around.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Some advice based on my experience: when run commuting, you have to be careful at intersections (even with lights) because drivers turn without looking for pedestrians. Some of them are on their phones. It is very dangerous. Try to wear bright clothes.

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

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

By |2018-03-05T10:22:13-04:00March 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Am I a Runner?

A few medals

 

“You’re not a runner. You’re a racer.”

That was what my coach said to me. She was neither complimenting nor criticizing me. She was describing me.

This is the story of my running career, such as it is. In 2015, I ran my first half marathon. My cousin and her husband had come to visit. He was running the San Francisco marathon. He told me if he could do it, I could too. I have since repeated that sentiment to many others, because it is true.

Inspired by casual conversation, I signed up. I figured I would try a half marathon. That is 13.1 miles. It seemed just within reach.

I finished. It took just under three hours. I was stiff and sore for two days. But I had found myself. The experience was that combination of joyful and miserable that compels repeating — I was once in the San Francisco Chinese New Year’s parade, riding a convertible at night in the cold rain, waving nonstop while trying not to fall off the back of the vehicle; that was the perfect combination of fun and discomfort that should have a name.

That year, I did another ten races. I did not train. I didn’t do anything in between. Except I regularly walked to work. I didn’t taper in that routine.

Perhaps I am obsessive. In 2016, I ran a total of 36 half marathons. I had set a goal of 24, but I got carried away. I brought my personal record down to 2:30. I looked for events wherever I went. In 2017, I managed approximately 27 half marathons. I am not quite sure because I stopped keeping track with care. I ran at altitude, above one mile, in Fort Collins, Colorado. I added different distances. There were multiple night races carrying lights. I achieved a 2:17 in the San Jose Rock ‘n Roll. But I also learned I couldn’t fly coast to coast, arrive late at night, and perform the next morning.

At some point, my wife decided I needed professional help. She concludes that about various aspects of my life. So, she hired a trainer for an assessment.

When we met, Angela put me on a treadmill and filmed my butt. She informed me my stride was asymmetrical and inefficient. I bought a package of sessions.

We are working on making me more of a runner. I’m not a runner in another sense. I am a run walker. I alternate. I have thought I ought to learn race walking. That sport may be just my speed literally. I admire its quirkiness. It has that punctiliousness about rules that appeals to me as a law professor.

For now, I run about a mile at a time. Then I walk a bit. I goad myself. Others use the same technique. I say when I cross that intersection or pass that tree, I have to get going again, then I have to make it at least to the next similar marker and so on. I pick a personal pacer. I remind myself not to be creepy about following someone.

So, I still am not fast, but I am persistent. I have never not finished. I have run back-to-back races, Saturday and Sunday, more than once. This past New Year’s Eve, I ran with a friend who is faster. I finished at the top of the bottom tenth. The next day, I ran with her sister who is even faster. I finished at the top of the bottom sixth. Considering the earlier excursion and the elevation gain of the route, I was satisfied to see the improvement relative to the field even if I remained at the back of the pack.

Along the way, I became not a runner, but a run commuter. I was I delighted to discover that to be a run commuter, as kids say nowadays, “is a thing.” I want to make progress in this pastime. My coach assures me I am ready for a full marathon, especially having completed the final warm up for the New York City marathon, an 18 miler that consisted of three loops of Central Park. She also tells me I can be considerably faster if I were disciplined, running more often and actually running when I “run.”

Thus, I turned the stroll to work into a jog, and, now, a run-walk. There are two long, gentle downhills, at the beginning from my home into the park and at the end through Hayes Valley toward City Hall. On both these stretches, I really move. Ever so briefly, I am a real runner. Yet I can report that through all this I have not once laced up my shoes to run, other than to a destination or in an organized event. I don’t just go out to run. It doesn’t interest me. I love running. I simply don’t do it for it’s own sake.

There are many types of runners. I guess I have created a category for myself. I’m an anti-runner who happens to run. There must be others out there.

By |2018-02-27T10:28:46-04:00February 27th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

“Do You Shower?”

Where my run commute ends. The UC Hastings Tower is in the background on the left.

The only issue that run commuting presents is whether to shower. I have run with a colleague’s husband, a fellow who is much faster than me and who plays team sports in an adult league, meaning “run with” refers to getting together afterward. We have enough rapport that he, of Hispanic background, answered the question whether I need a shower, “Don’t tell me you Asians don’t smell! There are Asians on my soccer team, and I can tell you that you smell just as bad.”

Informal polling shows that the majority is with him. Whenever people learn that I am a run commuter, they want to know about the physical details, as if the greatest deterrent for them to consider this practice is that they would work up a sweat. I cannot recall any other context in which acquaintances have been so curious about my bodily functions, but that seems to be just about the first thought that comes to mind for everyone — it actually is a funny indication of how similar we all are to one another. So I explain the mechanics. Then I solicit their opinion.

“You should shower,” is the consensus.

The truth is I do not shower. I towel off with baby wipes stored in the office. I could, I suppose, shower in the men’s locker room of the gym in the residence hall of the school where I teach. No doubt it reveals something about me, but I don’t want to use the facilities there: too many memories, none positive, about high school, and I’d rather not be naked in the presence of students, even in a place where it is appropriate. I further rationalize my reluctance on the basis that I am unlikely to find myself that close to anybody on campus, that they would object. An arm’s length distance, what is comfortable in contemporary American culture for most folks, ought to be beyond the range of any run commute body odor — but perhaps I am only fooling myself. It’s also an extra fifteen minute production, having to trudge down the street, check in with the guard, store everything, etc.

What I do is I change my outfit, down to the socks. That is primarily what I carry, a full set of clothes. I keep the same shoes on. I am lucky to have a job that does not require coat and tie. In addition, San Francisco has a climate that does not compel seasonal changes in wardrobe, and an attitude that allows professionals to wear a much wider range than likely would be true in most cities. Inspired by Einstein but without any delusion of other likeness to such genius, I almost always wear black pants and a black pullover shirt, having a half dozen identical items in the closet. The one piece of attire that I regard as a necessity at all times is a good, year round cap or hat. I replace the running cap, usually soaked through, with more of a beret, upon arrival. There is a bit of variation. If it is raining, I can take a fresh pair of shoes. Given the bulk of footwear, it has to be very wet for me to do that. (Since I am disclosing these details, I keep a toiletry kit in my desk drawer, too. It includes Gold Bond powder to sprinkle. I know nobody wants to catch a whiff of anybody else’s feet.)

The ultra lightweight backpack I bought has two main compartments. That enables me to stuff the dirty clothes into the back half.

The great development that has made my run commute possible is the tablet and the internet. I contemplated lugging my laptop. I have not even tried. It would just wreck my stride. Suggestions in this regard are welcomed. But my iPad, the medium sized model, is fine anyway. I load all the materials for the day onto it, or I have them available via the cloud, which also connects through the office desktop computer, and even in the classroom, equipped as it is with a “smart board” system. The necessity of planning ahead enforces discipline. I have to be mindful about my schedule. Every now and then, since my wife is on the faculty too, I stow a bag in the trunk of her car, which I can retrieve. We have different schedules though.

There you have it. That’s my routine. But, no, I don’t shower.

By |2018-02-11T10:38:37-04:00February 12th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Math of Run Commuting

Twin Peaks, San Francisco, where my morning run commute starts

Here are my calculations that turned me into a run commuter. I concluded that I could invest twenty minutes of time per day for a full workout. I was already considering the idea. But I was persuaded by the argument from efficiency.

I live in San Francisco. That is an advantage. People travel by every conveyance in the Bay Area: cable car, ferry, bicycle, motorcycle, and powered skateboard are acceptable means of arriving at the office. There is no judgment, and what you wear, or even if you are clothed, is not regulated as would be true most other places. The city also is compact. It is seven miles by seven miles. My home is on the “other” side of Twin Peaks. My office is near City Hall.

My primary mode of transit was either the MUNI train or my vintage Honda Hawk GT V-twin cafe racer. By the former, it was about 25 to 30 minutes door to door; by the latter, perhaps 90 seconds faster, but with the tasks of putting on and taking off a high visibility riding suit over street clothes. I actually tracked it for these purposes.

I was walking everywhere anyway. So I did a test. On foot, without too much exertion, I could make it in under an hour. It is a 4.5 mile route with the option of a modest hill, through the park overlooking the famous “Painted Ladies,” the Victorians seen on postcards with the skyline in the background. With a bit of training, and considerable sweat, I have brought my PR down to 47 minutes. It is realistic to believe that I could achieve 45 minutes.

Painted Ladies, Alamo Square via Wikimedia Commons

At that rate, the run is an incremental increase of 20 minutes over the alternatives. That seemed to be a worthwhile investment for the benefit of clearing my head and exercising my heart.

The mornings are almost always cool, sometimes foggy. I have quite a bit of company along the route, especially in popular areas such as the “panhandle” of Golden Gate Park. Every now and then, I will double the distance by returning in the afternoon with a slightly slower jog. If I am feeling like a bit of leisure, I will take my camera for a photo stroll. On the occasions I fall behind, I allow myself to cheat. I will catch a bus through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. I figure I’m still better off having done a couple of miles under my own locomotion, than if I hadn’t bothered at all. I’m not trying to impress anybody.

The most important social science finding to report is borne out by research. You can form a habit quite easily. Laziness is a habit, as is its opposite. I could have been accustomed to, and probably was, staring at my smartphone while on the short train ride from the Forest Hill Station (said to be the first such subway stop with a building in the West) to the Civic Center Station. After finishing my first run commute, however, I became addicted to it, and as a consequence, if I take too long of a break my body protests the withdrawal into inactivity.

Before I tried this experiment, I would not have believed it was possible for me to do it. But it has worked better than I could have imagined. I run commute about three days per week. No doubt others can best that if they try.

By |2018-01-29T14:13:12-04:00January 29th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Strava Data Reveals Surprising Numbers on Run Commuting

London tops the list of cities with the most run commuters, according to Strava’s recently-released 2017 Year in Sport report, while Amsterdam, Paris, New York City, and Sydney, Australia round out the top five.

We’re fairly certain that our friends at Corridaamiga were solely responsible for #8, São Paulo, Brazil, as they are at the forefront of run commuting advocacy in that city.

What is even more exciting to see, is how much run commuting has grown over the last year. The number of run commuters grew by 43% and the number of runs tagged as commutes is up 51%! While these numbers come only from those that use Strava to record their run commutes, last year alone, 136 million runs were uploaded. That’s a ridiculously large set of data to analyze. 

While the percentage growth is impressive, the actual numbers are even more amazing. Over 31,000 run commutes were recorded weekly in the United States alone! Let’s break that down a bit.

According to our 2014 International Survey of Run Commuting, a majority of respondents said they ran to and/or from work 2 – 4 days a week. Lets go with the middle number of 3, and assume they ran to and from work, for a total of 6 commute events per week, per person. Now, if 31,169 commutes are recorded per week, and each run commuter racks up 6 of those, then that means approximately 5,194 people are run commuting in the United States each week!

Obviously, we’re making some assumptions here, but even at the high end of our guesstimate, saying that the only people who recorded commutes every week, worked 7 days a week and ran both to and from work (14 commute events per week), the number still comes out to 2,226 run commuters!

And the grand total of Strava-recorded run commutes in the U.S. over the past year?

1,620,788!

We’re seriously blown away. We knew you were out there running to work, but we had no idea you were doing it so much. Keep it up throughout the next year and all years to come!


If you are not using Strava to record your run commutes, please make 2018 the year you start doing so! You can sync your fitness tracker to it, and then tag your run as “commute” on the phone app once your done. There is also a Global Run Commute Crew club you can join (currently at 125 members). See you on the streets!

By |2018-01-29T14:16:16-04:00January 3rd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

The New Run Commuters – December 2017

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

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Alex Zinni

  • Age: 36

  • City/State: Mansfield, MA

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

  • Number of years running: 1

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

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

 

 

Run Commuting Gear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alex Zinni

 

Osprey Rev 24

 

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

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

How often do you run commute?

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

How far is your commute?

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

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

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

What do you like most about run commuting?  

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

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

Nope, I am the only one of my kind.

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

Driving along in my automobile.

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

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

What are the weather conditions like for your run commute?

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

Anything else that you would like to include?

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

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

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

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

By |2018-01-29T14:56:07-04:00December 12th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pack Hacks: How to Tame Excess Backpack Straps

Run or hike with a pack long enough and you may begin to notice tiny annoyances about your gear transporter that are enough to drive you crazy.

For example, your zippers may make jingling, tinkling noises with each step. The quiet, sloshing water in your bottle or hydration pack might start to sound like you’re camped next to a gushing waterfall. You may even get noticeably angry at your straps that keep swinging into your arms as you move.

Some backpacks come with pre-built solutions for all these issues, but many do not. What can you do to keep yourself sane while out on the run? We’re here with answers!

In our first Pack Hacks instructional post, we’re going to show you how to deal with excess backpack straps.

The Problem:
Excess Straps on Your Pack

The Solution:
Secure the Straps with Velcro Tape

Here’s How to Do It

Step 1

Purchase some Velcro Tape

Also known as “fastening tape,” velcro tape comes in a wide range of sizes and lengths and is suitable for many jobs in which things need to secured (wires, cables, yoga mats, rope, etc.).

For our example, we used a roll of 3/4″ tape.

Step 2

Cut a 5″ – 6″ Piece of Tape

The length may vary depending upon how much excess strap you have, but usually 5 – 6 inches (13 – 15 cm) will suffice.

Step 3

Place End of Tape Near End of Excess Strap

By placing the first part of the tape inside the roll of strap, you will be securing it from unrolling later on.

Step 4

Roll Excess Strap to Buckle

The roll doesn’t have to go all the way up to the buckle – it can finish near it.

Step 5

Wrap Tape Under and Around Strap and Secure

If you have too much tape leftover, trim the excess.

Done!

The Finished Product Should Look Like This

When done correctly, the straps should never come loose. If you need to expand the pack straps, simply unfasten, adjust, re-roll, and secure once more.

Use anywhere you have too much extra strap on your backpack

By |2018-09-19T11:36:52-04:00June 10th, 2017|Categories: Gear, General, How To|9 Comments

Run Commuting Story Roundup – April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Salt-crusted hats are where it’s at.

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

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

  1. Brim too long

  2. Dome too high

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disclaimer

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

Review: Deuter Speedlite 10

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

Test Model

Deuter Speedlite 10

Size: One size fits all

Carrying Capacity: 10L, 610 cu. in.

Cost: US $50

Add-on: Dry-bag, 10L

Best for:

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

  • Runcommuters who carry small to medium loads

  • Runcommuters with longer torsos

Performance and Evaluation

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

Performance

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

What I Liked

Durability: high-quality materials and construction

Grab-handle for hanging pack on bathroom hooks

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

 

Key hook inside…

….nicely-sized top pocket

 

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

What I Didn’t Like

No pockets at all on shoulder straps/waistbelt

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

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

 

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

 

Backpack Details

Front

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

Sides

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

Main Compartment and Top Access Pouch

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

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

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

Back, Shoulder Straps and Waist Strap

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

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

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

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

Hydration System

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

Comparative Packs

Additional Pictures

By |2018-10-12T15:40:59-04:00October 12th, 2016|Categories: Gear, General|3 Comments