The alarm goes. I put on the kit I laid out the night before. Then I strap on my running bag, already packed. All I need to do now is run. The fact I’ll finish at work, feeling calm, and having saved money on travel, are all bonuses of the run commute.
I’ve run commuted for around 12 years. It’s great to see the shift from being looked at like a lunatic on mentioning I ran to work, to the UK having its first #run2workday on Thursday 5 June 2014.
Although I could write a book about run commuting, I’ll break down my top tips into 2 key areas: Planning and Packing
Know your building: Find out where the showers are. If you need one, is there a hairdryer, or a plug so you could use your own? Is there a locker or somewhere you could keep clothes and shower stuff? Is there somewhere you can hang wet kit? If there’s nothing at work, is there a gym nearby you can use, or otherwise run home from work.
Get the office gossip: Talk to people who already run or cycle in, and suss out the peak arrival times, and how long the shower queue is.
Personal timing: How long do you need to stretch, shower, change and get yourself ready? For some this might be 20 minutes, for others an hour.
Route: Plan where you’ll run, and try it out under no time pressure. You don’t want to be late for a meeting ‘cos you’ve got lost!
It’s good to have a few routes or extension options of different lengths, as you probably wont want to always run the same distance. My run commutes have ranged from 3 to 15 miles. (Although do have a single number of miles ready for the inevitable question of ‘how far is your run to work?’!)
Weekly plan: Which days will you run? Are you going to run in to work, back home or even both? There might be days when you have particularly early or late meetings you want to avoid.
Go minimalist: The less you carry, the better for you and your back. Think about what you really need. I even like to leave coins at work, just running with light cards and notes, and always have change for a coffee at work!
Work clothes: You can either carry these each day, or store a supply at work. I cycle in one day a week, carrying a week’s clothing to leave in my locker. But I could still carry in something extra on the run if my mind or the weather, changed.
Either way, my top tip is to have a small stash of spare underwear at work. It’s amazing how many trips to M&S you’ll make otherwise!
Bag: a running rucksack or bum bag, depending on how much you’ve got to carry. It should sit snugly and not move when you run. I suggest taking some of your typical kit you’d be carrying, to a shop and try it out in the rucksack. It moves very differently when it’s empty.
Visibility: Reflective strips and small flashing lights will help you be seen. You can get running ones now, or I just use my cycling ones. If you’ll be in really dark areas and need to see your route, get a headtorch.
Finally, let’s add pride! Don’t be shy about your colleagues spotting you after your run. They’ll respect your efforts, and soon be admiring your energy and increased performance too – just some of the benefits running has on work.
So get out there, save time, save money, get fit – it’s all win on the run commute!
This article was also published on Women’s Running and generated good Facebook debate about how people could fit running into their commuting routines. If you’ve got any questions, do ask in the comments below – it might not seem obvious at first, but there is often a way to make it work for you!