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Running with a backpack?

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Is it a sensible idea to run with a backpack? I am thinking of taking up running on a slightly more regular basis, but by far the most convenient time for me to run is in a break that I have in the middle of the day (I'm at university and have lectures with gaps between them). However, when I go to university, I never go without my backpack as it has, well, my lecture notes and my lunch and things like that. Depending on the day it can be somewhat heavy. So, basically, is it sensible for me to run while wearing my backpack (assuming I shorten the straps so it doesn't jiggle around too much), or will running with it cause knee damage or other kinds of damage or something? Based on how busy my days are it's very unlikely that I'd manage to go running at any other time of day...

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Its called rucking, people do it with upwards of 30lbs + gear. 


True, but it's also a different style of running and a different style of pack.


OP: give it a shot and see how it feels.  If the backpack is large and floppy, it's going to suck in some very specific ways:

1) The backpack will bounce and flop as you run, which will pound your back and throw you off balance

2) It can be rough on your pack's contents - papers get crumpled, electronics get tossed about, and so on.  Make sure your water bottle is sealed tight (trust me on this one)


As Barfly noted, sternum and waist straps help quite a bit.  If you can compress your pack contents and "tighten up" your pack to minimize the "flop factor", that will help as well.


EtA: be sure to be generous with the deodorant - the pack will add a weight to your shirt, which will guarantee the back of your shirt will be wetter than it would be otherwise.

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Is it possible for you to rent a locker somewhere on campus? Or go to the gym, change, stash your stuff in a locker, and go out to run? That would really be the better solution if possible. At the schools I went to, there were lockers to rent on campus for a fee for the year, and the gym was included in student fees.

I run home from work sometimes with a lightweight backpack and even though I try to minimize what I put in it, and it's got good straps for cinching up and the backpack itself is quite light, that run always feels really hard compared to other similar distances. I can't really imagine doing it with textbooks etc. in it. And if you've got a laptop or tablet plus a textbook or something, the extra jostling of running could be bad. And your back will get extra super sweaty from the backpack.

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"None of us can choose to be perfect, but all of us can choose to be better." - Lou Schuler, New Rules of Lifting for Women

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Two things:

0.  Build the weight up slowly.  Add distance before you add weight.

1.  Weight distribution matters.  Some people like the weight high on their backs, some people prefer it low.

2.  Wherever you like the weight to be, make sure it is strapped down well.  Adding items like clothing or towels can help fill space and keep things from bouncing around too much.

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Nothing wrong with running with a backpack, as long as the items within are well-stowed and the pack itself has both chest and waist straps. I did it myself, back in my younger days when I was going back and forth to uni.


Yes, it will be harder, which means you might have to start by alternating running with walking for some of the distance.


Yes, it will make you stinky, depending on how much you push as well as your natural tendency to sweat. If your campus has showers, allow time for a quick shower. If not, adjust the time, so that you won't arrive there a sweat-drenched wreck. Make up for it by pushing otw home instead.


As pointed out above, jostling can be reduced by padding your pack with large, soft items of clothing or the like, towel for shower, light raincoat in case you get rain, small pillow for that partiuclarly boring lecture (I jest, well, halfway, at least), that sort of stuff.


A friend of mine never walked anywhere without his backpack, a habit he'd picked up in the military and refused to part with. By the time I met him, it was quite heavy indeed, and he was in pretty good shape. Sure, he looked a bit odd, carrying a large pack everywhere, but I guess it worked for him.


Tl;Dr: Go ahead, give it a shot. Just remember to go easy in the beginning, and make sure everything is stowed well.

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I used to run with a pack regularly to support the distances I was doing (I did a marathon with a mini-pack), and echo everything that's already been said.

Just wanted to add, weight should be a consideration. Are there lockers available for stashing heavy, bulky, or otherwise difficult to pack gear? The more you can take out of your pack, the closer you'll be able to pull it to your back/center of gravity. In addition to waist and sternum straps, make sure your pack has straps for pulling it flat to your back. I bought a camelback at the REI garage sale in college that fit both my notebooks and my back, problem solved. 

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Something that might work for you: clasp the chest strap normally, but get the waist straps longer and clasp them over the chest straps, so you achieve a somewhat x shape with them.


It often makes it easier to breathe properly and it still tightens the lower part of the pack to the back.

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