Run commuting can appear daunting, but with a little preparation (and the right gear) it really isn’t that hard. I do it at least a couple of times a week and find it to be a very efficient way to get my runs in. I’ve written about this before from a more personal perspective, but here’s five lessons I’ve learned from my years of (literally) running home from work.
Get a good running backpack. I use a Gregory Miwok 33. I love it and have recommended it to many friends who also love it. Its big enough to fit clothes, and (even a small laptop) but not so bulky that it sits too far off your back. Some people, especially those who won’t be carrying clothes back and forth may wish to go with a a smaller bag. In shopping for the bag, you want to make sure it rests easily on your hips and sits close to you back, otherwise its going to swing around too much.
Here’s my Gregory ready for an attempt on the Presidential Traverse:
Plan to run home. If your office has a shower, mazel tov, you’re set. You can run to or from work (or both!). But if you’re like me and are lucky enough to live in a city with a good public transportation system, but unlucky enough to not have a shower at work, the only viable option is to run home. Plan your schedule accordingly. The first couple of times are likely to be an experiment in finding the best route, so give yourself plenty of time.
Leave your shoes at work. I have a selection of dress shoes stashed under my desk at work and commute everyday (whether I’m running home or not). I bring my clothes back and forth with me, but I have a friend who brings in four shirt on Monday, leaves them all at the office, and then brings them all home on Friday. This works too, I guess, if you have the storage at your office.
Prepare for the weather and distance. Depending on how far you’re running, you may need to think about the run as a short easy run, or prepare for it like a long run. My average commuting distance is about seven miles, which makes it ideal for a standard weekday run. I do notice that I overheat quicker with the added weight (and loss of heat evaporation) associated with the backpack. Plan you clothing accordingly.
Be seen and be safe! I’m lucky enough to live in the city that never sleeps, so even if I’m running home in complete darkness, it isn’t complete darkness. Still, my bag has reflective patches and when running after dark, I try to wear bright colors. You should too.
EDIT: After posting a link to this on facebook, a very old friend commented on the difficulties of run commuting in an area without strong public transportation. Here’s how she does it:
I only do it once in a while because of the hassle of the car issue. In the summer my schedule is easier and the building is super quiet so I can get away with running to work in the cool and just being way dressed down and ponytailed all day. It is way easier to find a ride home at 4 than a ride in at 7:15, especially if you plan a happy hour in there. The other thing I’ve done is run home one day and run back the next morning. That isn’t bad if I prep well enough a couple days ahead of time. I have to bring running clothes AND extra work clothes to work day 1. Wear running clothes home, run back in and change into work clothes I left the day before.
Thanks for the advice, Amy!
That’s about it. If you run commute I’d love to hear how you go about it. If you live within a reasonable distance from your office, it really isn’t that hard!