Saturday, March 7, 2009

Run-commute

When life gets busy, we tend to sacrifice our hobbies and exercise activities before anything else. I personally refuse to give up running. I simply go insane if I don't run. My work requires me to sit for long hours in front of the computer, so if I don't run, I pretty much become a hybrid beast: the human-chair.

But, how to keep running (walking, biking, etc) when our schedules are so full? Well, I think I have come up with a possible solution for many of us: run-commute. And I am not the only one. Increasingly, runners are joining cyclists on the road to get to work every morning (for example, see this Seattle Times article).

However, the logistics of running to work are not as straight forward as biking to work. You can't carry a change of clothes and shoes with you (not to mention, lunch, a laptop, etc).

So here are a few tips from my own experience:

- Once a week, drive to work and bring in a large gym bag with clothes and lunch food for 4 days. Hopefully your company offers a refrigerator and a safe place to store your belongings.

- If your company does not have showers it gets tricky. I have not tried it, but I hear some people use a damp towel to wipe sweat off their skin and this seems to work pretty well for them.

- On your running-commuting day, wake up early enough to have a light breakfast (my favorite all-time is bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas).

- Before going to bed, get everything ready. Look up the weather forecast, and prepare your clothes appropriately. Fill up your water bottles, etc. That way in the morning, it won't be so hard to get up and you will have a few extra minutes to relax before your run.

- If your commute is too long, find a Park and Ride where you can park your car and then run into work from there. Some Park and Rides fill up early, so make sure you check beforehand at about what time it gets full.

- When running, use a waist belt with a small bag to keep your keys, credit card, ID, cell phone, and a few dollars just in case.

- Use reflective clothing and flashing lights if you start running in the dark! Be very defensive. Caffeine has not kicked in for most drivers yet, and they are in autopilot.

- Going back home: here you have two options. Run back as well (hard core!), or, figure out a system by which you can drive back. I usually vanpool back to a Park and Ride, or take the bus back to the same Park and Ride. I actually quite enjoy riding the bus back home. It gives me a buffer between work and home to zone out.

So, does this really save me time? you ask. I think it depends. For me, it works quite well. Instead of driving my car into work for 25 minutes from home (times 2, that's 50 minutes a day of time spent commuting), I run in from a Park and Ride (about 1.5 hours total to get to work), and I only take one shower a day instead of two. So in the end, I save myself about 30 minutes.

But time savings are not the only benefit. You save gas, and parking if you have to pay for it at work. And (big AND), you are greener (the big trendy word these days).

It takes a few weeks to get a system working. You have to fine tune it for your own situation. I initially started only once a week, and as I learned more, I started doing it more frequently.

So there you go, another way of staying active.

8 comments:

Cliff said...

Use baby wet naps. They work really well. Cheap too.

Jon said...

I actually know the guy who the article is about (David T and I are apart of the same triathlete group).

We talked about some additional logistics, especially when it comes to work equipment. I seriously envied him and his ability to not have to take his work laptop with him and was given the OK to be able to do remote sessions via Terminal Services from another computer (leaving him to only carry a thumb drive of his data on the run.)

But run commuting has really helped him to train on his tight schedule, all the way to a sub-3 hour marathon at Seattle last year if I remember right.

Anonymous said...

I run to work and carry a Solomon Raid 30 adventure racing pack. I carry all my clothes, except shoes. I also carry a water bladder. When I get to work, I wash off at the bathroom sink with washcloth and small towel I carried it the pack.

The TRICK is to take a shower immediately before leaving the house. If you do that, a quick wipe works fine - yes even here in Texas when it hits 100.

Anonymous said...

yoo. interesting ..

Erika Martin said...

Thanks for the awesome and informative info. I found the tips and notes on prep work really helpful. I'm linking this article to an Earth Month Challenge:Using Alternative Modes of Transportation to Work. My question is...What do you eat after your run so you don't getting the "foggy head?" Thanks again for all the info!

Anonymous said...

I finish work too late so I don't have much time for myself during the week. I love sports so I decided to commute by bike. It takes me just 40min, faster than it would by car because I have no traffic jams. Riding also helps me work on my fitness!

Andrew said...

Keep up the run commute message :)

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