Combining your Commute with Running – How You Can “Run-Commute”
There’s nothing more gratifying than being able to accomplish multiple goals at once! Juggling work, family, friends, and exercise can often be difficult. Commuting to your office by running is one way to chalk up miles without having to carve out extra time to exercise. As a frequent running commuter, running before or after work allows me to clear my mind and be more present in other aspects of my life. “Run-commuting” also leaves me with some pocket change as I don’t have to pay for fuel, parking or public transportation.
Becoming a running commuter is not difficult, but it will require planning. Here are four easy guidelines to get you started on your journey of becoming a road running warrior:
1.) Choose your route(s) and have a backup plan. Determine the best running route to your office. As much as possible, stay on running trails and avoid vehicular traffic. Are you able to run the distance from your home all the way to work or is there another starting point that is more manageable? If the distance is too short, considering adding more miles by taking a detour? Try to have several routes in mind, should you encounter some road blocks on your original route. This also helps reduce boredom should you decide to run-commute several times a week.
The best way to find routes are through word of mouth. Reach out to other road running warriors in your office to get advice on routes. You can also reach out to your greater social network, by using apps such as Mapmyrun and Strava. I have even used these apps successfully when on business trips internationally in search for running routes. Some of my favorite resources for US trails include Trails.com, Alltrails.com, and Traillink.
2.) Combine run-commuting with other forms of transportation. If the idea of run-commuting sounds overwhelming, break your route up – takeoff from a more manageable starting point and combine with other forms of transportation. Sometimes I spice things up and split my daily commute by biking to work in the morning and running home in the afternoon, then reversing this order the following day. This gives me the added benefit of cross-training. Sometimes I carpool or take public transportation.
3.) Check the weather. It is surprising how many runners don’t check the weather before they head off. The last thing you want is to get caught ill-prepared in bad weather. Make it part of your routine to check the weather and dress appropriately or decide to run another day. Weather reports also provide sunrise and sunset times, so make this part of your routine as well, and try to avoid running in the dark. If you have seasonal allergies, try and avoid running in the seasons when your allergies are worst. Pollen.com offers good five-day pollen forecasts and allergy maps.
4.) Dress for success. Try to bring your clothes to work on the days you’re not running. Consider leaving a portable steamer at work to avoid looking disheveled. If you do plan to bring your clothes on your run-commute, set them aside the night before and choose an appropriate running pack or belt. There are plenty of options out there, so invest in one or a few that are most comfortable and best suite your needs. Try to pack light and bring only the essentials. I leave my toiletries and dress shoes at work to lessen my load. I even go as far as leaving extra sets of underwear at the office as most people easily forget to pack these! Managing to stay clean and fresh after exercising is tough, so another key consideration if you run to work are showers. If your office has no shower, try to find gyms or public showers near work. If all else fails, use baby wipes.
5.) Be safe. Try to find a running buddy to help you stay safe and motivated on your route. When running alone, make sure to inform at least one person when you’ve left your starting point and when you’ve arrived at your destination. There are a plethora of apps that help track your real-time location on your routes, such as Glympse and RunRaegis, and send alerts should you encounter an accident. When running on roads with no sidewalks, check your local traffic rules. The general rule of thumb is to run on the shoulder, against traffic. This helps you easily view and react possible mistakes made by advancing vehicles. Wear reflective gear and bring a headlamp or flashlight, especially when you run while it’s dark. Most importantly, be aware. If you like to listen to music while running, try to have the volume on low or keep one ear free of earphones.