Archive for June, 2012

Run Commuting

Note:  This is a slightly modified version of what I posted on

Right, then…

Last week, I made my first try at run commuting. I’ve been toying with this for about a month or so – that’s when I heard about the concept of running to work. Up to this point, I’ve been bicycle commuting and either running on my days off, or doing a short run at lunch. When I heard of run commuting, it opened up some new possibilities.

My commute is broken up into different sections, so I run barefoot (henceforth, “BFR”) the first 2.4 mi to the local train station, take the train south for a bit, and then run shod the remaining 3.8 mi in to work. Over time, the plan is to gradually increase my BFR mileage (using the 10%/week rule) so that the entire run is barefoot. As of yet, I am not running home, but that can become a possibility in the near future. Ultimately, the thought is to run the entire 11 miles in to work.

Overall, I can happily say that I enjoyed it and I am planning on run commuting at least once per week.

These are some random thoughts and whatnot that I noted on my run this morning:

1) I would not even consider this if there were not any showers at work. I’ve read some articles where folks did a variation of the Greyhound Bus Depot bath (basically, wash your face and the parts that stink), but that’s no good for a guy like me who sweats buckets.

2) My running clothes were not fully dry at the end of the day. True, I just mentioned above that I’m a good sweater (and I also am a lovely shawl), but I sort of figured that the forces of evaporation would not need more than 9 hours to dry out my running clothes. As I do not intend on wearing my work clothes for the trip home, I pretty much need to bring a dry set. Unfortunately for the guy sitting next to me on the shuttle, I was wearing damp, moderately pungent clothes for the ride home.

3) I’m learning the downfalls of using a cheap backpack. True, I don’t need a pack that can withstand Everest, but there are some things that are problematic.

  • Number one: The shoulder strap buckles do not hold after they have been adjusted. It got to the point that I constantly had to hold on to the bitter ends in order to keep the shoulder straps cinched up (which prevents the pack from swinging while I run).
  • Number two: Operating the zippers are a two-handed affair, making it a pain as I had to stop and close one of the waist pockets when I checked my phone.
  • Number three: The access port for loading/unloading is a bit small, which is fine for soft items (e.g. clothes) but creates problems with things that don’t squish down, like shoes or the container I carry my lunch in.
  • Number four: The pack I’m using now does not have one of those air-mesh back suspension things that create a void between your back and the pack. My thought is that I’m still going to be sweaty, so there’s no point to trying to avoid it with the air-mesh back suspension thingy. What I did learn is that while this might be true, I’m also soaking the padding with sweat, which – as you can probably imagine – will probably get rather nasty in short order.

This aside, I’m going to tinker with how the pack is loaded and see if there are any cheap mods that I can do to make the pack a little user-friendlier[1].

4) For now, I’m using a 30-liter pack (Outdoor Products Skyline 8.0). I went with this size so I can carry clothes, lunch, and my running shoes for the times that I’m BFR. I’m pondering different options that would allow me to use a smaller pack, like storing some clothes at work for when I run in (like I do with toiletries) as well as eating in the cafeteria those days, so I don’t have to carry lunch (don’t like the cost of that, though…also, whenever I eat at the cafeteria, I’m virtually obliged to buy at least two cookies, which starts me on a cookie binge). As for the shoes, I might look at carrying them outside of the pack in the water bottle pockets. In time, I should be able to go BFR the entire distance, which would eliminate the need to carry shoes, altogether.

5) My lunch salad seemed a bit traumatized by my run in to work. The vegetables were…I don’t know…bruised or something. Oddly, the dressing tasted like tears, so I don’t know what’s up with that.

UPDATE:  Since I originally wrote this, I modified the straps on the pack.  It turns out that when webbing (like what is used to adjust the shoulder straps) is too smooth, the buckles do not bite and hold it in place.  To counter that, I’ve glued a small section of rough webbing to the webbing on the pack, where it laces through the buckles.  I think I’ll wind up spending some time adjusting it, but by the way things look, I think it will hold nicely.  As for the zippers, I did some Googling and found that you can make zippers run smoother if you rub a bar of soap on the teeth – so I did just that and things seem better.  We’ll see how this shakes out in practical application.


[1] This was originally written as “more user-friendly” but the MS Word gods felt “user-friendlier” was more apropos.