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.