10 Tips on How to Run to Work

Photo first appeared on Pete Bland Sports

Run Commuters. You’ve seen them out your car window, running to work with their fancy backpacks, with you, stuck in traffic. If you’ve ever thought ‘maybe that’s not as crazy as it looks,’ you’re right.

With a little planning, you too can stay in shape, train for a race and save a little money (and the planet) by running to work or wherever you need to be – how about that for multitasking.

Here’s how to go about a run commute the right way from a runner who’s learned hard way.

Tip #1: Plan Your Route:

First off, make sure you familiarize yourself with the route you’ll run, its distance and how much time you’ll need to make it there on time. Your boss won’t care that you’re late to work because you’re route was ‘a bit hilly.’
Personally, I like Google Maps when planning for a route I haven’t run before. There’s a ‘walking’ view within the map that serves as a good proxy for the most efficient path from point A to B.

Tip #2: Invest In A Proper Backpack:

There’s a reason running backpacks are a thing: they’re light, form fitting, with just the right amount of space for everything you need. Contrast that with your everyday backpack, which will definitely suck to run with, given there’s no chest or waist strap and may lead to a visit to the chiropracter. Here are some great running backpack options .

Tip #3: What to Pack So You’re Set For The Day:

  • Wallet/I.D./Mobile Phone/GPS Watch/keys: (I know these seems obvious, but I’ve forgotten these items when racing out the door) if you lose steam on your run and want to hop in an Uber, injure yourself or the weather turns nasty. A little cash money is a good idea, too, especially when the grouchy convenience store owner won’t accept a debit card for that Gatorade you’re craving
  • Hydration, Fuel: depending on your route, how far you’re running and the the weather conditions (like a stinking hot July morning), you may want to pack a bottle of water/Gatorade and a few gels or cut-up fruit. Getting up and going to work each morning is hard enough without bonking on the way there.
  • Get a proper backpackIf you have to travel with a laptop to work, consider getting a pack that’s specifically designed for this very need that will fit snugly and securely in your backpack. I like the IAmRunBox Backpack Pro . The above should cover the essentials for what you need to lug along on your run commute. That said, here’s a comprehensive list,

Tip #4: Dealing With The ‘Hygiene’ Question:

Change of clothes nobody wants to walk around all day in sweaty spandex, and that includes your cubicle mate. Keep a spare set (or sets ) of work-appropriate clothes on hand at your workplace, including shoes, that would take up a ton of space in your running pack.

Showering
If your workplace doesn’t have showers, scout out the local YMCA or other nearby community centre / public swimming pool and pay the usually nominal daily pass fee to shower and change. Or, if your budget allows for it, sign up for a gym membership, especially if you live in a region that sees its fair share of snow during winter. Then, not only do you have a place to shower and change for work, but you can take your workout indoors on a treadmill.

Live on the Edge: Been there. Done that. Never been called out by HR for it: If showers just aren’t available on your route nor at work, and you’re pretty sure you’re, like, a 3 out of 10 or below on the B.O. scale, add a towel, soap and deodorant to the items in your backpack along with a change of clothes (if not already at the office as per above). Then, find a nearby public washroom, freshen up over the sink and change into you’re work attire in a stall. Just build in time to stop sweating before cleansing.

Tip #5: Prepare For Passive-Aggressive Colleagues, Jealous Of Your Herculean-like Efforts:

Get ready for that colleague, lingering in the office kitchen as you grab a glass of water after your run and head to the work shower to make super passive-aggressive comments, such as “wow, good for you. I’m so busy with work that I could never find the time to run.” or “don’t you ever get sick of running.” Just ignore them and proceed to tip #6.

Tip #6: Take Advantage Of The Boost To Your Mental And Emotional Health:

Ever notice how content you feel after a long run or race? Running not only gets you in great physical shape, but it gives you serious mental and emotional boosts; these include elevated levels of the chemical serotonin that promotes neuroplasticity, aka, your brain’s ability to create new neural connections or pathways. Running also dampens negative thoughts from churning in your head, similar to meditation.

Tip #7: Get Illuminated:

Headlamps and clip-on lights are an absolute must when on a run commute after the sun goes down, especially in the Fall and Winter (in northern climbs at least) when weather conditions make it particularly hard for drivers to see you.

Tip #8: Plan For Weather:

Pro tip: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST. Stay classy, San Diego, but even in lands with almost perpetual sun, take a quick peek at your weather app in the morning to make sure it’s not pouring. This way you can dress accordingly for your run, including a waterproof jacket. If you’re backpack isn’t waterproof, throw a small plastic garbage or kitchen bag over it before heading out the door.

Tip #9: Music Or Podcasts: The Hack Within The Hack:

Go ahead and enjoy your favourite tunes while on your run; or become the smartest person in the office and listen to podcasts. Either way, you’re getting entertain/informed, and staying fit while run commuting to work. (Are you some kind of genius?). That said you may want to invest in a pair of bone-conduction-based headphones while you to move to the beat on your run. Aftershokz and Apple’s Air Pods Pro, feature bone-conduction technology that allows you to hear noises in your surroundings, like that bus, hurtling towards you while playing your favourite tunes or podcast.

Tip #10: Don’t Overdo It; Know Your Limits:

Make sure your run-commute is realistically something that you can pull off. If you’ve never run further than 10 kilometres, don’t be a hero and attempt a 15k run. You’ll just set yourself up for failure (especially with the extra weight on your back) and may just give up on run-commuting altogether. Instead, set a distance that you know you’re actually capable of completing, then add on the mileage from there. If that’s 5k, then run that distance and hop on public transit or order an Uber for the rest of your commute to work. Be realistic: slowly build up your endurance and eventually you’ll run the whole commute.

Bonus Tip: Expect To F-UP Up Along The Way:

Everybody forgets to wear underwear when headed work, right? No, not really actually, except for run commuters. The first week may feel like you’re packing for a camping trip instead of a run commute, and that can be time consuming and stressful trying to get out the door with a half dozen other items you have to take care of in the morning (especially if you have kids). Don’t worry, you’ll get into a routine in no time when it comes to making sure you’ve included all the items you’ll need for the run, and for the rest of your day. Like anything new, do it for long enough and it becomes a habit you barely have to think about. Happy trails.

Written by Dave Carpenter

Hello, I'm the guy behind HustleInTheSix, a blog devoted primarily to photographing and writing about running and uncovering hidden urban gems along the way, By day I'm an award-winning content creator and strategist. Please see my LinkedIn profile below for more on my professional background and I how might help you. You can also contact me directly at davecarpenter@carpendiem.ca . Thank you. Dave.

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